COMPUTEX - Via NanoBook takes aim at ultramobile market

Via has developed a lightweight, ultraportable computer that will soon hit European markets.

Via Technologies has developed an ultraportable notebook reference design that will soon hit European markets.

The Via NanoBook, which will be unveiled Wednesday at the Computex exhibition, uses the company's 1.2GHz C-7M processor and has a 7-inch LCD (liquid crystal display) touchscreen and Wi-Fi. The small notebook PC is intended to ship with either a 30G-byte or 60G-byte hard disk, and can run either Windows XP or Windows Vista. The notebook weighs less than 2 pounds, or 900 grams, and has a battery life of up to five hours.

The NanoBook is aimed at the same market as the Ultramobile PC (UMPC) reference design developed by Microsoft and Intel, but has different specifications. For instance, the UMPC is designed around an Intel microprocessor and does not include a full keyboard.

Via, which trails far behind Intel and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in the microprocessor market, is counting on reference designs like the NanoBook to win more business from hardware vendors, said Richard Brown, the company's vice president of corporate marketing.

  • Watch the video of the Via NanoBook here
The strategy appears to be working. On Sunday, Taiwanese contract manufacturer First International Computer (FIC) leaked details of a NanoBook produced by the company. That device is being made under contract for Packard Bell, which will put the device on sale in Europe during the third quarter, according to a source familiar with the deal.

A similar device will be made for sale in the U.S. but will not be sold under the Packard Bell brand, the source said.

Via's NanoBook reference design includes at least one feature that will not appear in the device sold by Packard Bell. Because the screen is smaller than the notebook's lid, there is space for a removable module that sits next to the display. Via has developed three modules that can be changed by users to suit their needs.

These modules include a world clock, a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver, a VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) phone, a DVB television receiver, and a 3G (third-generation) cellular module.

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