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ASUSTek Introduces 'Mid-size' Mobile PC in Bid to Create New Market

ASUSTeK Computer Inc of Taiwan announced the "N10J" compact notebook PC Sept 19, 2008. Its 10.2-inch display is larger than 7- to 8-inch displays on "mini PCs," for which the company cultivated the market with its "Eee PC," and smaller than 12-inch displays on general mobile notebook PCs.

"The Eee PC is targeted at Internet users," said Kevin Du, general manager of ASUS Japan. "But we are targeting the N10J not only at Internet users but also at business users. We feel that the product will open another market, which is different from the one for notebook PCs."

The PC features Intel Corp's low power 1.6GHz "Atom" microprocessor along with NVIDIA Corp's "GeForce 9300M GS" graphics processing LSI (GPU). These processors allow for greater performance when playing video or running a game, for example, ASUS said.

It is also possible to turn off the GeForce 9300M GS to reduce power consumption. The battery pack can run the PC for about seven hours when the GPU is off and about four hours when it is on.

The N10J uses Microsoft Corp's "Windows Vista Home Premium" OS when operating as a standard PC, but it can start up in about eight seconds if the "Express Gate" function is used for limited operations such as the Web browser and "Skype."

The 10.2-inch display's resolution is 1024 x 600 dots. Its main memory is 2 Gbytes, while the built-in HDD is 160 Gbytes. The dimensions are 267 (w) x 195 (d) x 29mm (h). Given that the N10J is wider than a mini PC, it features a key pitch of about 18.5mm, which is close to that of a full-size keyboard. The weight is roughly 1.5kg including a battery pack.

There is no suggested retail price, but street pricing is expected to be ¥99,800 (approx US$938).

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Toshiba Exhibits Ultrasmall Projector as Small as iPod

Toshiba Corp prototyped a projector as small as the iPod and exhibited it at the company's new products exhibition in Japan (See related article 1, 2).

The projector was on display at IFA 2008, a consumer electronics trade show that took place in Germany from Aug 29 to Sept 3, 2008. According to a demonstrator from the company, it is "the first time that Toshiba has exhibited the prototype in Japan."

It is extremely unusual for a leading Japanese manufacturer to exhibit an ultra compact projector of this kind. Recently, development of ultra compact projectors that are small enough to be fit in a breast pocket and can be driven by a battery is intensifying and drawing people's attention.

However, most of the prototypes were made by manufacturers outside Japan or venture companies. This unexpected exhibition caught the eyes of many visitors who came to check out Toshiba's new LCD TVs and DVD recorders.

The prototype has a luminance of about 7lm. In dark places, it is capable of projecting and displaying images of about 50 inches. It is equipped with the digital light processing (DLP) Pico chip set manufactured by Texas Instruments Inc (TI).

The DLP Pico chip set, which was designed exclusively for mobile devices, is composed of small versions of TI's MEMS device called "digital mirror device" (DMD) and its drive LSI, etc. The projector has 480 x 320 HVGA resolution. It is powered by a built-in battery, and the battery run time is less than one hour, Toshiba said.

The company didn't specify the dimensions of the projector. The incorporated optical module reportedly takes up almost half the size of the projector. It uses red, green and blue LEDs for the light source.

Toshiba aims to commercialize the projector in the first to the second quarter of 2009. The company hopes to improve the luminance to 10lm, extend the battery run time to two hours and increase the projection size to 60 inches before the commercialization. According to the company, the target weight of the product is around 100g.

The power consumption and the price are likely to be on par with those of other ultra compact projectors of the same kind, although the company avoided stating the specific figures. Therefore, the power consumption is expected to be 2-4W, and the price is likely to be US$300-400. The company also exhibited a mockup of a commercialized product.

According to Toshiba, those target specifications may be changed before the release. The company has to overcome technical problems such as the reduction of heat generated by the projector and the reduction of the main unit weight in order to put the product on the market. In addition, the company is faced with the problem that it is still uncertain about the main use of the projector, the demonstrator said.

Toshiba also exhibited a mockup of another projector as small as a USB memory at the site. It is expected to be used as a device externally connected to a mobile phone.

"We designed it as an external component because we are not sure whether a system embedded in a mobile device would truly be the best solution for personal use," the demonstrator said.

At the moment, the company is not planning to commercialize the USB memory-sized projector.

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