Shuttle’s notebook strategy unveiled

SPA, short for Shuttle PCB Assembly

SHUTTLE SHOWED OFF a range of notebook products at CES, but you can’t have one. Well, at least not directly from Shuttle for the time being as the company is looking for smaller notebook vendors to join the Shuttle Notebook Ecosystem and they will then in turn offer the notebooks for sale to end users.

Earlier reports suggested that Shuttle would launch its own brand of notebooks as well and, although this didn’t happen at CES, it might well be the case in the future. For now Shuttle is offering two base selections, the SPA and the micro SPA. SPA is short for Shuttle PCB Assembly – way to go with simplifying acronyms there Shuttle – and in essence it means that Shuttle will offer the notebook vendors a selection of motherboards and chassis that are interoperable with each other. This allows for lower BOM (Bill of Materials) costs and will allow Shuttle to offer a wide range of solution for its partners.

The SPA notebooks will cover models ranging from 13.3-inchs to 17.3-inches in size and you’ll find features such as discrete graphics on these models. The micro SPA models will range in size from 10.1-inches to 14-inches and as you’ve most likely figured out by now, these will be “feature light” models and quite often netbooks. Shuttle will offer models based on Intel, AMD and even VIA based solutions and the company has a complex product matrix available that allows any potential partner to pick out suitable SKU’s for their needs.

Shuttle is bragging about the fact that they will offer over 196 different product combinations this year based on CPU, chipset, graphics, screen size and the amount of drives that can be fitted. This is all good and well, but Shuttle doesn’t exactly have a reputation as a notebook manufacturer and we can’t see this as being an easy sale. However, Shuttle has an ace up its sleeve as it turns out that Shuttle has a team of ex ECS staff members doing the notebook side of the business and its rumoured that they brought some of their ex-clients with them.

On top of that, Shuttle is using FIC as their assembly partner, although others are likely to follow. The motherboards are all designed by Shuttle and Impress PC Watch has an image gallery featuring all of the base models. The demo notebooks at CES featured a transparent bottom half to make it easier to demo the components inside. This could well be the start of a new trend, although the see-through handbags really never took off, did they.

Overall it looks like Shuttle has come up with some interesting plans for the future. However, there are several concerns here such as support, quality control, warranties and so forth. The first notebooks made by Shuttle and its partners should tip up in Europe as early as February, followed by the US in March. We still don’t know which companies are set to stick their labels on these machines, but we’re sure this information will become available in due time.S|A

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