Hitachi updates Linux tablet PC

Flora-ie 55mi is Hitachi's latest foray into the tablet PC market

Hitachi will release its latest Transmeta Crusoe-based tablet PC on Wednesday, the Flora-ie 55mi -- but this gadget will only be available in Japan for the time being.

The tablet, which is a laptop-sized touch-screen in a frame, is an update to the product of the same name that shipped in December, but adds wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11b) capabilities. It runs on a 400MHz Crusoe TM3200 processor with Transmeta's Midori embedded Linux operating system.

It comes with different memory sizes from 64MB to 192MB, and includes CompactFlash and PC Card slots. Battery life is estimated at between three and six hours, depending on the type of battery. It will retail in Japan at from 152,800 yen (about £860).

Besides the 10.4in touch screen, users can also buy a companion keyboard and mouse, and use the device like a laptop. But Hitachi sees users carrying it around the office as a sort of super-PDA.

Despite persistent efforts from a variety of manufacturers, the market for tablet PCs, Web pads and information appliances has so far failed to take off. 3Com recently cancelled production on its information appliance, Audrey, after lacklustre sales.

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