Microsoft Co-Founder To Ship Handheld PC

FlipStart puts a Windows XP or Vista-capable computer in a very small package.
Attention Blackberry addicts, your mastery of typing with both thumbs now has an application outside of just answering e-mails. FlipStart Labs, which was founded by Microsoft-co-founder Paul Allen, announced its plans to ship a super compact PC, almost as small as a Blackberry or other smartphone, with full Windows support. The first units for sale are slated to begin March 27.

FlipStart weighs less than two pounds but has a basic PC inside. The 5.6-inch screen provides 1024x700 pixel resolution. Under the hood is a 1.1GHz Pentium M low-power processor, 512MB of memory, a 30GB hard drive and integrated graphics. These specs are at the very minimum required to run Vista.

FlipStart comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. It has a backlit QWERTY keypad, mouse buttons and a touchpad for input, and in a stroke of genius, a single button for ctrl-alt-del. There are also zoom buttons that allow for zooming in on a specific section of the screen.

The unit also sports built-in speakers and a microphone, a built-in camera and USB ports. A full featured port replicator will allow for plugging in the unit so it can be used in a desktop environment with a full size keyboard and monitor and a wired Ethernet connection.

The FlipStart InfoPane allows for quick access to information in the users Outlook store, such as e-mail addresses, contacts and calendar without having to fully boot the unit or even open it.

Allen, a multi-billionaire from his Microsoft stock and numerous investments, said the FlipStart addresses a problem that needs solving. "Years ago, I began to imagine a super compact computer that would allow us to connect, communicate, work and relax, no matter where we are -- one that is intrinsically intuitive to use," Allen said in a statement. "FlipStart is the first commercial product to meet that vision; it simply works as expected."

FlipStart will priced starting at $1,999. For now, the company plans to only sell it directly from its Web site.

A prototype unit Flipstart showed in 2004, used the low-power Transmeta Crusoe processor, but the company has since switched to Intel.

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