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Microsoft co-founder to demo always-on mini PC

Combines power of a notebook, portability of a PDA

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Vulcan, the company set up by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, will show off its FlipStart always-on mobile "mini PC" this week.

FlipStart is a compact 14.8 x 10.1 x 2.6cm (5.8 x 4 x 1in) notebook that sports an unnamed 1GHz processor and runs Windows XP. Vulcan's idea is to offer a machine that has the compatibility, power and application base of the mainstream Microsoft OS with a form factor that's little bigger than a PDA yet features a full QWERTY keyboard. Like a PDA, the device is designed to operate continuously, going to sleep when the lid is closed rather than shutting down completely.

It weighs under 450g (1lb), Vulcan claims.

Unlike a classic handheld, the FlipStart contains a 30GB hard drive and 256MB of memory. The "HDTV-quality" 5.6in 1024 x 600 LCD is driven by an unnamed (again) 3D graphics chip with 8MB of video memory. It's got 802.11b/g built-in, and Vulcan plans to offer optional Bluetooth and mobile phone network access modules. There's a single USB 2.0 to allow you to connect an external keyboard or other peripherals.

The notebook's lid features an optional control and display unit to allow users to check email, play MP3s or check personal information without having to open up the machine.

Vulcan isn't saying when the FlipStart will ship or how much it will cost. All it will say is that it plans to provide that information sometime later this year. ®

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