PC makers rolling out new Sandy Bridge laptops

The laptops with new Core i3, i5 and i7 chips will start shipping in March

Lenovo and Sony on Tuesday announced faster laptops based on Intel's new Sandy Bridge processors, which the PC makers said could offer longer battery life than models based on Intel's older chips.

Lenovo announced ThinkPad T, L and W business laptops, while Sony announced a lineup of Vaio C laptops with Intel's new Core i3, i5 and i7 chips. Dell in early February announced business laptops based on the Sandy Bridge chips.

The laptops will ship starting mid-March and come with dual-core and quad-core processors and fixed Sandy Bridge chipsets. Late last month Intel halted shipments of Sandy Bridge chipsets after it found a design flaw, which prompted some PC makers such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell to halt or delay product shipments.

Intel's Sandy Bridge processors are faster and more power efficient than its predecessors, which could help programs run faster while consuming less power, said Roger Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates.

"That ends up translating to longer battery life," Kay said.

Sandy Bridge also marks the first time that Intel has put the CPU and graphics processor in a single chip, which is a big step forward, Kay said.

"You have decent graphics... in a very power-conserving environment," Kay said.

Another power saving on Sandy Bridge is Turbo Boost 2.0, in which idle processing cores can be shut down to save power. The technology is also able to crank up the speed of cores depending on the level of processing power needed.

Lenovo said its ThinkPad T420 delivers up to 15 hours of battery with a nine-cell battery, better than the 11 hours of its predecessor. Lenovo has taken advantage of certain hooks provided by Intel to shut down idle components when not in use, which has helped improve the battery life, Kay said.

Intel has also included new graphics capabilities into the Core chips that speed up the creation and rendering of video. A feature called Quick Sync allows the conversion of high-definition video into a format suitable for smartphones in just a few seconds. Another feature called Wireless Display 2.0, available with Sony's new Vaio C multimedia laptops, allows users to wirelessly stream high-definition content from the laptop to high-definition TVs.

The ThinkPads are bundled with Intel's Core VPro platform, which combines software and hardware technology for IT administrators to remotely manage and secure laptops. The platform includes many new remote management features such as Anti-Theft 3.0, which allows IT managers to remotely disable stolen or lost laptops over wired, Wi-Fi or 3G networks. The laptops can be reactivated through a code provided by the IT department.

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