Every revision of Intel's popular Centrino mobile platform is generally greeted with a thorough refresh of existing models from notebook vendors. The reason is rather simple. Intel's consistent use of the Centrino branding notwithstanding, each Centrino 'revision' involves a host of changes, from increased FSB support to newer processors and even reworked wireless and graphics chipsets. With such significant changes, the current and fourth revision, Santa Rosa is vastly different from the first Pentium M based Centrino notebook that debuted in 2003.
Intel has managed to keep these revisions coming along at a brisk pace, with the latest Santa Rosa platform coming slightly more than a year after the previous platform, Napa. Some of the changes are incremental, including draft-n support in the new wireless chipset Kedron and an increase in FSB to 800MHz. Others like the new Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100 and Dynamic Acceleration technology have much potential to improve performance while reducing power consumption. Then there are the disappointments like Intel Turbo Memory that have yet to be widely adopted by vendors. In short, it's a mixed bag of technologies from the market leader.
Given its market clout, it's not surprising that vendors have come out in full support of the new platform. The Centrino branding is very powerful in the mobile arena and most consumers are aware of the name, though they may not be certain of its details. Coupled with the timing of the release of the new Windows Vista operating system early this year, demand looks good for these new notebooks and vendors have not been slow to react with their new Santa Rosa notebooks. We have previously seen such notebooks from HP and MSI and now you can add BenQ to the list. The Taiwanese manufacturer known for its affordable but decently powered models has a recent red dot award winner thanks to the new Joybook S41. Can it upset its more illustrious competitors with the bigger marketing dollars and brand recognition?