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Tablet PC makes Its way to the masses

PC World

By Martyn Williams

(IDG) -- More than a year after it first offered the world a peek at its upcoming tablet PC, Taiwan's First International Computer will soon begin mass production of the device.

Based on Transmeta's Crusoe microprocessor, the AquaPad tablet PC will be available in two versions: one running Microsoft's Windows CE and one running the Midori Linux operating system, says Allen Chen, a sales account manager for FIC speaking at the World PC Expo exhibition, which is currently running just outside of Tokyo.

The AquaPad features a Crusoe 5400 processor running at 500 MHz. INFOCENTER
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"We will start mass production this month," Chen says. Samples of the device should be available towards the end of the month with a Japanese language version available one month later, he adds.

The company won't be selling the AquaPad direct but supplying it as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) product to larger vendors.

Chen says talks are currently underway with Toshiba, Mitsubishi Electric, Sotec, Compaq Computer, and Hewlett-Packard, but no deals have been signed. When the AquaPad does go on sale, he estimates the street price will be around $599.

"We are aiming for a price somewhere between a PDA and notebook computer," he adds.

The AquaPad also will include 128MB of memory, an 8.4-inch color thin film transistor LCD touch panel with SVGA (800 by 600 pixel) resolution, two USB ports, a PC Card slot, Compact Flash slot, and infrared port.

The computer weighs 2.2 pounds and measures 10.8 by 6.6 by 1 inches. Battery life of the machine is between 2.5 and 3 hours in use and as long as 24 hours in standby mode, Chen says.

The computer was first unveiled as an engineering sample at the Computex 2000 show in Taipei last year. Since then, the machine has been given a faster processor, more memory, and a larger screen but also got a little larger and heavier.

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