Acer unveils slim XScale devices

Pocket PC fans will get two lightweight XScale-based devices from Acer, one featuring built-in 802.11b connectivity

Taiwan-based Acer has given details of two upcoming Pocket PC-based handheld computers that will use XScale, making them among the first on the scene to use the Intel processor technology.

Both devices, the n20 and the n20w, will use an Intel PXA250 processor, which can reach speeds of 200MHz to 400MHz. The XScale technology in PXA250 is likely to be a big improvement over the Intel StrongARM chips that currently power most Pocket PC devices, delivering more processing power while extending battery life. Several hardware makers have announced XScale-based handhelds to be introduced over the next few weeks. Acer did not give a release date for the n20 handhelds.

Acer is aiming for a slim design with the n20, which is 1.29cm thick, comparable to the recent 1.2cm-thick Toshiba e310. The n20w is deeper, at 1.96cm, but includes built-in 802.11b wireless LAN capabilities.

The n20w has a few other differences from its companion, such as a longer-life battery (15 hours when 802.11b and the screen light are inactive), and the lack of an expansion-sleeve option. The n20's expansion sleeve allows it to accept CompactFlash cards.

Both devices include 64MB of SDRAM and 32MB of flash memory, allowing the operating system software to be upgraded. They use a 3.8-inch active TFT LCD screen displaying 16-bit colour. Both use removable batteries, allowing users to carry a backup on long trips.

Another innovation is Acer's inclusion of a Memory Stick expansion slot, a proprietary Sony format which is used mainly in Sony consumer electronics and Sony-branded Palm OS devices. Secure Digital slots are generally used by non-Sony devices looking for a compact expansion option; the e310 is one example.

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