One of the themes of Comdex Fall 2000 has been the many and various form factors into which PC technology is now being fitted -- witness Bill Gates' attempt to breathe new life into the pen-driven computing concept in his Sunday night keynote.
Taiwan-based PC manufacturer SaintSong (www.saintsong.com.tw) has taken the novel approach of squeezing most of the components of a conventional PC into as small a box as possible, allowing you to transport your primary system from location to location in your briefcase or even your pocket.
SaintSong's current products, the Espresso and the new Cappuccino G1 (something of a theme there) are not notebooks: for one thing they don't run on battery power and for another they lack both screen and keyboard. However, in all other respects they are fully featured Intel-based PCs. So long as you can find a monitor, a mouse and a keyboard at any location, your data can travel with you.
The 460g Espresso, which has been on sale in the UK for several months through PC World, measures 10.6cm wide by 15cm deep by 3.2cm high and contains either a Socket 370 Celeron or Pentium III processor, a single DIMM slot for memory, an Intel 810 chipset with integrated graphics and audio and a 2.5in. hard disk. The unit also features a two-button touchpad, so you don't even need to attach a mouse.
For I/O there are two PS/2 ports, VGA and TV-out ports, two USB ports, microphone and headphone jacks, and a docking station port. The docking station contains CD-ROM and floppy drives plus serial, parallel and dual USB ports. A DVD-based docking station is also available. In the US, the Espresso sells for between $1,000 and $2,000 depending on configuration.
The new Cappuccino G1 weighs in a just under a kilogram and is bulkier than the basic Espresso at 14.6cm by 15.7cm by 4.5cm, but includes a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive. Again it's Celeron or Pentium III powered, supporting up to 256MB of RAM and featuring Intel's integrated 810E chipset.
Again, there's a 2.5in hard disk inside and a wide range of I/O ports, serial, parallel, dual PS/2 and USB, VGA, S-Video and AV video, RJ-45 (for the built-in 10/100 Ethernet) and RJ-11 (for the built-in V.90 modem), audio (mic and headphone) and infrared. The Cappuccino is expected to be available in the US in Q2 next year, and is likely to make it to Europe as well. Pricing has yet to be decided.
Both the Espresso and Capuccino will run Windows 2000, NT, ME or 98, as well as Linux.
Tucked away in a booth within the Taiwan pavilion, SaintSong's products were one of the finds of the show.
See full coverage at ZDNet UK's Comdex Special.
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