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UNWIRE!

The Centrino announcement marks the end of an era, and the beginning of a computing revolution! Users will no longer be confined to hulking beige boxes that require a couple user manuals to operate. Tablet PC's and lightweight highly-portable laptops are the wave of the future, where people can have access to their computers, data, and the internet whenever they need it. At least, that is what Intel wants you to think.

You may have recently seen an add from popular chip maker Intel, unless you live in a media-free cave somewhere, advertising their new CENTRINO laptops. Perhaps you saw a little magazine add-in with UNWIRE written all over it. Congratulations you have been exposed to the latest marketing blitz from Intel.

Centrino is a step in an interesting direction for Intel Marketing. The Centrino brand, announced February 11th of 2003, applies to laptop computers only. Prior to Centrino, Intel has limited themselves to the Intel Inside campaign, which uses the common Pentium brand. Of course Intel has Xeon, Itanium, XScale, StrataFlash and Celeron but your average person probably has little exposure to these words and they are really just the names of different chips that Intel releases. Centrino is equivalent to the "Intel Inside" marketing campaign and is an attempt to move the whole computing paradigm a little to the left.

Struck with decreased sales of desktop systems, Intel has tried to refocus computing for the average person. Your typical user will never push the limits of a 3Ghz Pentium 4, except for the rare occasion that they run a large AutoCAD app or play a computation intense 3D-game. For the most part, 3Ghz is more processor than everyone needs. If people are going to keep buying computers, they have to be easier to use, more flexible, and we want to have full functionality everywhere.

Centrino advertises wireless capability. Basically these laptops are supposed to have longer battery life (removing the need for a power cable), wireless internet access at wireless hotspots (removing the need for a network cable), and be lighter and thinner enabling you to use them anywhere, and - of course - better performance.

Centrino is a laptop brand. There are 3 things a laptop must have for it to be called Centrino.

  1. The Montara 852/855 Chipset from Intel
  2. The Banias Intel Pentium-M processor (not to be confused with Pentium III-M or Pentium 4-M)
  3. Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 network connection for 802.11b wireless networking (future versions to also have 802.11a).
Oh, and I shouldn't forget the new logo. Centrino has a logo that looks like a butterfly (sideways) or maybe dart flights pointing to the right. It is two-tone with pink and blue coloring. The logo is supposed to suggest mobility, forward looking, and speed or something like that.

This marks a change in Intel processors. The latest and greatest processor does not have the fastest clock speed. This, finaly solidifies the fact that clock speed does not absolutely determine performance. The Megahertz Myth is over.

Centrino computers are designed for Mobile features, which doesn't always neccesarily mean speed. Banias, the new Pentium M processor, runs colder than comparable processors from Intel, it has a host of new features to support all the crazy things laptops want to do (Better power management, bus control, hotkey support, more feature rich integrated graphics). Intel is trying to jump on the new mobile computing pattern. There is less and less of a focus on the absolute fastest processor and more of a focus on different ways (especially easier ways) of using your computer.

It may be important to note that these computers are all capable of fast wireless internet access. This is in support of the ubiquitous constant access to the internet that Intel envisions for our future. In fact today there are many wireless "hotspots" throughout the US (and many other countries). Right now they are pretty much limited to hotels, airports, and some coffee shops but soon they will be just about everywhere. When wireless really picks up and people have reliable, quick, super lightweight laptops that can easily fit in a backpack or briefcase sales might pickup like Intel hopes.

If you want one of these new supercool superthin and light laptops, here are a list of manufacturers building them. Just about anywhere you can buy most laptops (BestBuy, CompUSA, Dell, etc) you can buy Centrino.

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