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IBM will announce its WorkPad z50 today, a Windows CE-based handheld PC. The long-awaited 2.6 pound device is a 'Jupiter'-class clamshell design. This means it looks like a dwarf version of the IBM ThinkPad notebook, yet is bigger than most typical CE handhelds. Its size can be compared to Hewlett-Packard's Jornada 820 and LG Electronics Phenom -– both CE devices. The gadget has an 8.2in LCD screen, with an NEC MIPS chip at 133MHz and up to 48MB of memory. It will begin shipping in the US this week, priced at $999, but IBM said there were no plans at the moment to bring it to Europe. Mario Brandao, IBM EMEA mobiles launch integrator and product manager (couldn't he find a longer job title? Ed), told The Register: "The market for this type of product in the EMEA region is not strong enough yet, so we will not launch the z50 here immediately. But demand is growing, and Microsoft is investing substantially into making CE a good operating system." So if it's not yet a good operating system, what is it? Answers on a postcard, please. Brandao said US companies were more likely to equip staff with a companion device like the z50 to accompany their desktop. In Europe, companies tended to stick to moving from desktop-based systems to laptops. Although the Windows CE operating platform has yet to set the world on fire, it offers many advantages. Its "instant on" feature cuts down the long boot-up time of most PCs, and it has an extended battery life to most typical laptops. These devices are also often lighter than normal notebooks. The z50 will run for about eight hours on a single charge and 16 hours with an optional high-capacity lithium-ion battery. IBM claims the keyboard is 95 per cent the size of the current standard ThinkPad keyboard. ®

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