As vendors scramble to find a point of differentiation in today's competitive notebook market, IBM has launched the first portfolio notebook that allows users to transfer handwritten information into a digital format.
The ThinkPad TransNote combines a notebook PC with a digital notepad, dubbed the ThinkScribe, which captures handwritten images and transfers the graphic files to the computer. Big Blue expects the notebook to find applications in vertical enterprises that employ highly mobile workers such as finance, medical, legal, real estate and higher education.
Just like a traditional paper notebook, the TransNote flips open like a book and the digital notebook can be folded over the keyboard. It comes in both left and right-handed versions, features a pivoting touch screen and weighs in at less than 2.5kg including the digital pen and ThinkScribe.
Users can write up to 50 pages of notes and store them in the 2MB flash memory, even when the notebook is turned off. The pages can then be transferred to the computer once it is switched on.
Developed at IBM's US research centre, the notebook also features optional wireless connectivity through either 802.11b wireless LAN or Bluetooth PC cards. It is powered by a PIII 600MHz processor and includes 64MB of memory, a 10GB hard disk drive and the Windows 2000 operating system.
IBM is also allowing its developer partners to customise the use of the notebook and digital notepad, providing a software development kit to the channel.
The new notebook will be available from mid-March and will retail for $6499.
"The TransNote would be ideal for people such as travelling sales staff, medical professionals and insurance agents," said IBM's Australian and New Zealand mobile computing product manager, David Nicol, at the notebook's launch. "It saves time and effort for people who need to take handwritten notes but still need a fully configured computer."