Notebooks enter Jupiter's orbit

Notebooks enter Jupiter's orbit

Announcements from NEC and Hewlett-Packard are highlighting two mobile industry trends that may be on a collision course.

NEC is expected to announce a low-cost Versa Note notebook computer, which is priced at $US1699. The Versa Note is a full-featured, Windows 95 or Windows 98 mobile device with an Intel Pentium processor geared to the "corporate value" buyer.

Last week, HP announced the Jornada Windows CE device using an embedded StrongARM processor and no hard drive, which is priced at $US1000. NEC has a similar Mobile Pro device.

Both companies stated that a Jupiter-class notebook based on WinCE 2.11 will not force IT managers to decide between it and a low-cost notebook running Windows 95 or Windows 98, but that may not be the case.

"If we need something more than the Palm Pilot, we will use a notebook," said Phillip David Pucci, a systems engineer from Milwaukee. "I imagine the Jupiter machines may appeal to some, but it doesn't fit in to our work styles."

The HP Jornada 820 Handheld PC weighs a bit over a kilogram and includes a 6Kbps modem, 16MB of RAM, an 8.2in dual-scan display, a Compact Flash, and a PC Card slot, but no hard drive. The Jornada has a 10-hour battery life and is expected be available this month.

Weighing cost

IT managers will weigh the cost, performance, size, battery life, and instant-on capability of the WinCE-driven Jornada against Windows 95/98 systems such as the NEC Versa Note.

Available now, the Versa Note is a three-spindle device that weighs three kilograms and includes a 266MHz Pentium MMX, a 3.2GB hard drive, a 12.1in active matrix screen, 32MB of RAM, a 56Kbps modem, and a 12-speed CD-ROM drive.

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