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Asus preps carbon-fibre cased laptop

EMI shielded - but what about Wi-Fi?

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Asus has rejected standard plastics, impact-resistant materials like polycarbonate, and even metals like aluminium and titanium to kit out its latest notebook computer opting instead for carbon fibre.

The Taiwanese manufacturer last week introduced the W1 Carbon family, a line of Centrino laptops based on a range of Pentium M processors clocked from 1.6GHz to 2.13GHz.

Curiously, Asus touts the way the machines' carbon fibre casing acts as an "effective EMI [electro-magnetic interference] protective shield". The snag here, of course, is that it also threatens to shield against desirable electro-magnetic radiation, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals. Wi-FI is a key component of Intel's Centrino platform, but Asus' press release doesn't mention it at all.

To be fair, it does mention Bluetooth 2.0 support, and presumably if Asus has made windows in the casing to allow these wireless signals to pass back and forth between connected devices then it has done the same for wireless networking. And, indeed, a search reveals the machine has 802.11b/g. The cost, however, is that the W1 Carbon isn't as EMI-resistant as it might at first seem.

Still, carbon fibre has other benefits. According to Asus, it's 60 per cent lighter and twice as tough as aluminium-magnesium casings, such as those used to protect Apple's PowerBook range.

The W1 Carbon is pitched at media centre roles, thanks to a built-in analogue and digital TV tuner, and accompanying remote control which can be stowed in the laptop's PC Card slot. The TV tuner, DVD player and a photo viewer can all be activated without booting the machine up.

The notebook is offered with up to 1GB of 533MHz DDR 2 SDRAM (user-expandable to 2GB), a 15.4in WXGA display driven by an ATI Mobility Radeon X700 with 128MB of video memory, 60-100GB of HDD capacity, three USB ports, a TV-out port, a SD/Memory Stick/Memory Stick Pro/MMC memory card reader, a FireWire port, 10/100Mbps Ethernet and a 56Kbps modem.

Asus did not provide pricing or availability information. ®

Asus W1 Carbon notebook

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