Hands-on with new Mobile WiMax Notebooks From Toshiba, Asus, and Lenovo.

It’s one thing to be able to plug a WiMax card into a notebook, like we have right now with our Sony VAIO TT, but it’s a lot cooler and sleeker to have the technology built in. Plus, the combination WiMax/Wi-Fi card Intel has won’t prevent users from outfitting their notebooks with traditional cellular mobile broadband. How much will this sort of integration cost? A Toshiba rep said around $50. That’s not bad considering that adding 3G can cost anywhere from $100 to $175 these days. One other Intel rep said it could range from zero dollars to $30. Hmmm. The demos themselves were pretty neat. One was showing streaming video to livecast.com from Segways XOHM reps were driving arounnd Baltimore. That was on the IdeaPad Y530. On the Asus M50v, Intel has YouTube playing at full screen of Leona Lewis from the X Factor reality show. The video quality wasn’t that great, but I think it’s the source video and not the connection. When I tried speedtest.net, it showed 5.1 Mbps down and 1.3 Mbps on the uplink. Not bad at all. But then again we’re in a stationary environment. Both the Asus and Lenovo are 15.4-inch systems, but the Toshiba U405 on display, with its 13.3-inch dislplay, is a lot more portable and is better suited for mobile use. There is an Intel-skinned connection manager utility with a simple WiMax On/Off buttons and a big Connect button. Otherwise, this dialog box displays the connection strength. Strangely, in this case it showed only 3 out of 5 bars. In this case we saw 3.9 Mbps downloads and 1.9 Mbps uploads from speedtest.net. According to Intel there is a total of 12 notebooks currently available. Lenovo IdeaPad Y530, ThinkPad T400, ThinkPad SL300 and 500, Asus M50, Acer Aspire 6930, and Toshiba Satellite U405. And there are a couple of other Asus machines. They’re available for direct sales, as well from Amazon.com and Newegg.com starting today. As for the Y530′s performance, we couldn’t test the throughput because they didn’t want us to distrurb the video stream. The livecast.com stream looked smooth, though. We’re just not sure how attractive Mobile WiMax really is on a bigger notebook, unless you’re considering it as a DSL or cable modem replacement. What we were hoping to see that’s not here are XOHM enabled netbooks. Where is the Cloudbook Max? How about a Mobile WiMax Eee PC? I’ll be keeping an eye out but at least so far that fast growing category is not represented at the event.

AUTHOR BIO
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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