How to market Centrino 2

Jim Forbes blogs about how the wireless capabilities of the Intel Centrino 2 chipset should be marketed.

If I were working in PR today for Intel or one of its portable computer marketing partners, I would have set up tables with new notebooks that incorporate the new technology in a parking lot or field. Each of the tables would also have an older notebook with legacy wireless networking chipsets. And each of the tables would set in front of as range marker listing the distance between it and the WiFi router.

The very visible point of the demonstration is that the new chipsets free notebook users from being close to a WiFi access point.

Now let’s think a minute about Intel’s WiMax WAN technology. Want a fun way to demonstrate it? Set up a test network along Amtrak’s Oakland, CA to Sacramento right of way. Now load up 15 reporters, editors or industry luminaries in several of the cars on a train’s consist ( the term used to describe an engine and cars expressed as a single unit). Let them experience true persistent mobile connectivity, sit back and wait an hour or so for the rave reviews to appear.

Mobile persistent connectivity is a transformational experience for most users.”

Jim and I worked together at PC Week in the mid-80s. He has seen it all when it comes to PC marketing and I think he’s right. Users need to see this stuff in the field to grasp the impact of what we marketers try to embody in the speeds and feeds that characterize “spec pod” marketing.

New laptop – X200 for Beijing trip

I ordinarily don’t rant about Lenovo products on this blog. Old journalistic allergies to conflicts of interest, subjectivity and public relations sort of chills any professional promotional instincts. But I’m making an exception here because new technology has come into my life and, well, of the dozens of PCs that I’ve used (beginning, technically, with a Wang dedicated word processor in the spring of 1980), this one, by far is the most impressive and “personal” in the sense of strong ergonomics and usability.

I’ll get the punchline of this post over early: the X200 is the best ultraportable notebook computer I’ve ever owned. I’ve gone super ultraportable for the most part in my PC choices — avoiding anything above a 12″ screen and using external monitors and keyboards for extended desk use.  Weight is important, but having gone too small, I’ve come to realize that in order to function happily, I need a serious keyboard and a crisp screen. This is my first widescreen PC, and the increased screen turf is appreciated. It isn’t the lightest ultraportable, but I don’t quibble about a half a pound difference at this point in life. I want something that is sturdy, and the X200’s magnesium frame makes this feel more hefty than my old X60s and X61. The screen is far crisper than my old X61 tablet, and the Intel Core Duo P8600 2.4 GHz processor is the fastest by far. As Computer Reseller News notes in its review, this sucker isn’t quiet, it’s silent.

Thin? Very, not as skinny as our former flagship, the X300, but definitely a sleek notebook and not a brick. I think for hardcore ThinkPad users, the machine will be appealing because a) it is Trackpoint only with no touchpad to mess with your head and b) since optical is (in my opinion) going the way of the floppy, you need the UltraBase dock to get a DVD rolling. I take both omissions from the system — touchpad and optical — to be a big plus. But, it does have three USBs, a SD slot, and the usual port stuff happening.

I’ve put about four hours into it, and the port layout, the keyboard, the wireless, everything is working like a charm on this Centrino 2 machine, our first. I need to dig, but not sure if this has a WAN card. I know it has the new  N standard 802.11 wireless and potentially Wimax, but I need to dig into the system config to see what’s inside.

Oh, and it is the first time I’ve used Vista.

Can you believe that? I work for a PC company and have never used Vista? Weird. Anyway, that will be short lived as I need to send this back to IT to get the Lenovo VPN and usual Lenovo specific apps installed and will most likely get re-imaged with XP (I can connect to the VPN, I just can’t download the apps from the LANdesk service until IT gets their hands on it.)

The X200 is out next month, until then we need to do something about pre-orders because I get the feeling that while this may not make the cover of Businessweek like the X300 did, it definitely is going to be a very high demand laptop.

Here’s PC Mag’s take. “The ThinkPad X200 soars to the top of the performance charts, while delivering battery life well into the 6-hour range. It maintains many of the classic ThinkPad qualities, like the industry-leading keyboard and a wide range of wireless connectivity options.”

And here’s CRN’s. “In fact, the X200 is now giving the X300 a run for its money for the title of year’s best notebook.”


Trust me, best PC I’ve ever used.

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