CeBIT: C Tech Pen is Bluetooth wonder

If it's minuscule, wireless and endorsed by a well-known communication pact, you'll find it at CeBIT this year.

The C Pen is no exception. Described as a "mobile information collector", the device is a cross between a Personal Digital Accessory (PDA) and a text scanner.

A prototype demonstrated Friday at CeBIT was shown using Bluetooth protocols. The Bluetooth clan, which comprises IBM, Nokia, Ericsson, Intel and Toshiba, aims to develop mobile, wireless technology using standard protocols. The latest version -- due out immediately -- is compatible with Microsoft Outlook and boasts four-language translation software.

The device captures text or graphics via a digital camera and stores Information in its 8Mb memory. The C Pen offers a range of PDA-like features, according to Magnus Manhem, vice president for sales and marketing at Swedish manufacturer C Tech. For example, one feature allows the user to scan in a business card, line-by-line, then upload it to a contacts database in Microsoft Outlook. Two-way language dictionaries let you translate, for instance, from English to German and vice verse.

The C Pen has a built-in infra-red port for communicating with other computers. But C Tech also showed a prototype which used Bluetooth 0.85 protocols to communicate via radio waves. The company expects to release a dual infra-red/radio frequency version once Bluetooth-enabled portables are commercially available.

The gadget boasts an Intel StrongARM 100 MHz processor plus a 3 hour battery, yet it is still small enough to fit in the hand. Predictably, the device is expensive at DM999 (£333). Its chief rivals are less expensive and less complex dedicated text scanners such as the Siemens Pocket Reader which costs £149.

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