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Sharp intros 'world's first optical sensor LCD pad' netbook

The trackpad's that a display too

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Sharp has unveiled a netbook that, it claims, features the world’s first LCD touchpad, allowing for both pen and multi-touch finger operation - and providing visual feedback.

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Named Mebius, the PC has a 4in, 854 × 480 input device that – according to Sharp – is much more than a “conventional trackpad”. Why? The pad’s ability to recognise drawings and text using the bundled stylus, and to perform the same finger-based functions – such as rotate and zoom - as other multi-touch trackpad PCs, including Apple’s latest MacBooks.

And it's a sub-display too, Sharp added. The colour LCD can show different screens, from function-key icons to calendars, email and diary entries. It can also be utilised by the app running on the main screen, to create a Nintendo DS-style dual-display set-up.

Sharp_Mebius_01

Sharp's Mebius: the trackpad's an LCD panel

Trackpad capabilities aside, the Mebius will feature Intel’s 1.6GHz Atom N270 processor, be fitted with 1GB DDR 2 memory – expandable up to 2GB – and feature a 160GB hard drive.

The Sharp machine will come with a 10.1in, 1024 x 600 LCD and Intel’s 945GSE Express graphics chipset.

Other notable goodies include an integrated 1.3Mp webcam, Bluetooth 2.1 and wireless web over 802.11b/g. A multi-format card reader’s also built into the Mebius.

Sharp Mebius

Context sensitive

Although the machine’s claimed three-hour battery life may put off some potential buyers, its 260 x 190 x 23mm dimensions are sure to appeal to portable PC lovers. It comes with a choice of Windows XP or Vista Home Basic.

Sharp’s Mebius will be available in black or white body colours and is set to go on sale in Japan first – although the firm hasn’t said when – for ¥80,000 (£558/$814/€628). A UK launch date or price hasn’t been mentioned. ®

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