The systems here represent some of the very first laptops featuring Intel's revamped Centrino platform, code-named Santa Rosa.
While marketing jargon comes and goes, Centrino is one bit of clever stickerware that's scored big with the public. Laptops bearing the Centrino sticker (introduced in 2003) basically feature a specified combination of processor, chipset, and wireless-network interface, promising a seamless online experience and a better battery life. You can identify Santa Rosa systems by their new Centrino stickers: Centrino Pro for added IT manageability, and Centrino Duo for everyone else.
What do the new Centrino Duo and Pro platforms offer to you, the laptop-buying public? To summarize, the new Centrino includes a handful of new Core 2 Duo processors with clock speeds as high as 2.4GHz; a new motherboard chipset with a faster 800MHz front-side bus and an optional dedicated memory cache; a new integrated graphics chip with a larger allocation of memory; and a new wireless card with support for Draft-N wireless. (For more detail on each of these items, we direct you to this Centrino review on Crave.)
The nearly identical Gateway systems (the 14-inch E-265M and 15-inch E-475M), and the 14-inch Lenovo ThinkPad R61 are a little dry, aimed squarely at business users (although the Gateways are stylish enough to pull double duty in the home). In contrast, the HP dv9500t is designed for fun, with a giant 17-inch display and plenty of consumer-friendly extras for that portable, home theater experience.
Our initial testing of these systems showed modest gains in performance and battery life over similar non-Santa Rosa models. For now, we think that while the new Centrino platform is not a huge leap forward, it's good enough to quickly become the default choice for many consumers. As we test more new Centrino Pro and Centrino Duo systems, we'll get a better picture of the performance advantages to be found in the Santa Rosa platform.
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