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Handheld PC runs two OSes on two CPUs

Windows Mobile and XP ticking over simultaneously

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CES DualCor will ship its dual-CPU PDA-PC combo in March, the privately held start-up revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas today.

The company's cPC combines a Windows Mobile 5.0 system running on a 400MHz Intel PXA263 with Windows XP Tablet PC Edition running on a 1.5GHz VIA C7-M processor. Both processors take separate partitions of the machine's 1GB of DDR 2 SDRAM and 1GB of NAND Flash but share the 40GB hard drive, allowing documents created by one OS to be accessed by the other.

DualCor's pitch is that the device provides mobile workers with a powerful desktop system that can operate as a PDA when they're on the move. It quotes a runtime of over 12 hours in Windows Mobile mode, switched from the other at the press of a button. Because both OSes run simultaneously on their own CPUs, the transition is instantaneous. Running in XP mode reduces battery life to around three hours, DualCor said, but it doesn't expect many users to do so.

The unit's not as compact as a true PDA - it's 16.3 x 8.3 x 3cm - but it does provide a 5in, 800 x 480, 262,000-colour display. There's a mini VGA port to hook the unit up to an external monitor. The screen is touch-sensitive to work with a stylus, but the cPC also features a flat joystick-like mouse control.

DualCor touted the cPC's wireless readiness, but in fact that amounts to the provision of three USB 2.0 ports and a CompactFlash II slot into which users can connect Wi-Fi, 3G and Bluetooth dongles and/or cards. You'd add wired networking in the same way.

This kind of portability doesn't come cheap. When it ships, the cPC will cost $1500. To be fair to DualCor, the company readily admits its baby is a niche product - it's not aiming for mainstream glory.

DualCor cPC dual-CPU PDA/PC combo

DualCor cPC dual-CPU PDA/PC combo

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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