NEC trumpets tiny Tablet PC

NEC began selling one of the smaller Tablet PC devices to emerge since their November launch to users in Japan Thursday, with North American and European availability coming by the end of the first quarter, it said in a release.

The VersaPro series will be sold to companies, while home users will purchase the LaVie series, NEC said. With a 10.4-inch TFT (thin film transistor) display and measuring only 15 millimeters thick, NEC's Tablet PC is smaller than most devices announced around the time of the launch of Microsoft's Windows XP Tablet PC Edition in November of 2002.

The company's new Tablet PC is a slate device. Just about every Tablet PC that has been introduced so far has been either a slate device, with a detachable or wireless keyboard, or a convertible notebook with a screen that swivels to cover the keyboard.

A typical configuration of the VersaPro series will include the recently announced 933MHz Ultra Low Voltage Pentium III Processor-M from Intel, 256M bytes of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), a 20G-byte hard drive, and a lithium-ion battery for a price of ¥236,000 (US$1,995). It will be available in build-to-order configurations in Japan, but information about North American or European configurations was not immediately available. Australian availability is yet to be announced.

Users can add 802.11b wireless capability to the device, but that adds weight to the 999-gram heft of the VersaPro and LaVie Tablet PCs.

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