Toshiba Set To Refresh Notebook Lines

Toshiba also aims to refresh much of the rest of its Portege, Tecra and Qosmio notebook lines through the middle of the year, as well as add tablet PCs to its Portege, Tecra and Satellite laptop product families, said Taro Hiyama, vice president of marketing for the Digital Products Division of Toshiba America Information Systems, Irvine, Calif.

In addition, Toshiba plans to reintroduce its Libretto line of ultraportable PCs to the U.S. market, Hiyama said.

The raft of new computer offerings is timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the launch of the first notebook PC and illustrate Toshiba's renewed commitment to the channel, Hiyama said.

After several years of selling systems direct and through retailers, Toshiba is now looking to tighten ties with its channel partners, he said.

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To that end, the hardware vendor is signing up roughly 50 to 75 new partners a month to add to its base of 3,600 Preferred Partners, said Richard Vaughn, director of reseller sales at Toshiba.

"We seem to be able to take advantage of some of the turmoil of our competitors," Vaughn said.

Furthermore, Toshiba's parent company now is committed to making sure that Toshiba systems get first access to the latest components coming out of Japan, which will give Toshiba resellers more time to sell a set of products that are differentiated from offerings by rival companies such as Dell Computer, Hiyama said.

One reseller said he likes enough of what he's hearing from Toshiba these days to re-sign with the company after defecting from it to sell Dell and Sony systems.

"We're going to give them a shot again," said Rob Samimi, network and integration specialist at Everest Computers, a Roslyn Heights, N.Y.-based solution provider.

That chance, however, could be limited if Toshiba is unable to resolve the backlog and availability issues that historically have troubled the PC manufacturer's solution provider partners, Samimi said.