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Portables Hardware

OQO Ultra-Portable Impresses At CES 268

carpoolio writes "One of the most-talked about gadgets at CES last week was the OQO ultra personal computer (uPC). TechTV gave it a Best Mobile Device award, and deservedly so. It's a fully functional PC that fits in your pocket. Running on a 1 GHz Transmeta Crusoe processor, the uPC packs a 20 GB hard drive, 256 MB of RAM, and has a color screen that slides up to reveal the keyboard. The price? Sub-$2,000. Photos available on OQO's Web site. Similar devices have come and gone in recent years, but this one really looks nice." OQO seems to be slowly migrating from vaporware to a release date - a CNET News article notes that "OQO said Thursday that it will begin selling the device in the second half of 2004."
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OQO Ultra-Portable Impresses At CES

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  • Hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by inertia@yahoo.com ( 156602 ) * on Monday January 12, 2004 @06:16PM (#7956603) Homepage Journal
    We must have skipped vPC (very personal computer) and hPC (hyper personal computer). I'd still be interested in a sPC (semi-personal computer). Just don't show me the aPC (anti-personal computer).
  • ...And only two or three replies. This has got to be some kind of record.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2004 @06:18PM (#7956634)
    Oh, yes, it is. Nevermind.
  • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <{akaimbatman} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday January 12, 2004 @06:18PM (#7956638) Homepage Journal
    Is that an RS-232 port I see on the side? If it is, why? Is there something wrong with just providing a few USB ports?

    • Re:That's weird (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @06:24PM (#7956709)
      RS-232 is an extremely useful interface. If I had to choose a port to jettison from PC laptops, the parallel port would be my first preference. I don't understand why this huge and useless connector is still included on most PC laptops.
      • I don't understand why this huge and useless connector is still included on most PC laptops.

        I also prefer RS232, as it is more universal than parallel port. But I can confirm that PLIP (max 50kb/sec on my 75Mhz laptop) is faster than SLIP (max 10 kb/sec). Maybe they want to allow us faster network connection? ;->
      • Re:That's weird (Score:3, Interesting)

        by NanoGator ( 522640 )
        "I don't understand why this huge and useless connector is still included on most PC laptops."

        There are lots of printers and dongles still out there. You just know the one guy who can't run his old copy of 3D Studio MAX is going to be a whiner.
      • I've always prefered the parallel port when it comes to attaching various leds and relays to a computer. If course, opto-couplers help too if you don't want to fry your motherboard...
      • Re:That's weird (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo ( 153816 )
        They should be ditching ALL the legacy PC ports, and just putting USB on it. You can get many combinations of parallel, serial, PS/2 mouse and PS/2 keyboard which will connect to USB, including all of them in a single dongle.
    • Re:That's weird (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @06:25PM (#7956716)
      > Is that an RS-232 port I see on the side? If it is, why? Is there something wrong with just providing a few USB ports?

      Data acquisition and sensing is one of the Really Cool Applications for an ultraportable. It's a hell of a lot easier for Joe Labgeek to h4x0r something together that talks RS-232 than USB. I'm glad there's at least one "legacy" port.

    • Re:That's weird (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kruczkowski ( 160872 )
      GPS and Routers/switches.

      Go on groupstudy.com and see how people complain about the new laptops that don't have a serial port.
      • GPS and Routers/switches.

        Go on groupstudy.com and see how people complain about the new laptops that don't have a serial port.

        When they instead should be complaining that GPS and router manufacturers continue to be too lazy to support modern interfaces. I'm lucky to have access to a friend's PC to update my GPS -- my own machine is legacy-free, and the Garmin GPS I have is one of the few boat-anchors holding me back from no longer needing a serial port.
        • I really don't see what's wrong with a serial port. People act like it's "holding them back." It's a very simple interface, easy to code for, and easy to implement. I'd wager a USB port would raise the price of many GPS units. Also, I believe serial is somewhat of a standard on GPS devices (set forth by the NOAA or some such?).

          Exactly what hurts you about having a serial port?
    • its not 232, usb doesnt do vga out very well, so i'll give you one more guess of what it might be.
      • Okay, I managed to grab a Google Cache [] of the specs. No mention of RS232, but lots of mention of FireWire. Still, I have FireWire on my Mac and the port looks all wrong. It's too bad that photo is so low-res or I might actually be able to make it out.

        • Hmmmm, maybe Serialized PCI? I got a product sheet at home with a diagram of each component, I'll find out for sure tonight.
        • there is 6-pin firewire and 4-pin (mini) firewire. This one has 4-pin which is sort of rectangular with a dent in the middle of one long side) and I think mac's have 6-pin (which is sort of rectangular with one arrow-ish short side)
    • According to the specs in the Google cache [] (thanks AKAImBatman [slashdot.org], there is a docking cable. I quote:

      OQO docking cable includes

      * 3D accelerated 1280 x 1024 video output (VGA and LVDS)
      * Serialized PCI
      * Additional USB
      * Additional FireWire (IEEE1394)
      * Ethernet
      * DC power
      * Audio out

      So my guess is that the weird port is the port for the docking cable.

      "Serialized PCI". Cool. You could make a docking port with PCI cards in it!


    • Re:That's weird (Score:5, Informative)

      by BigDish ( 636009 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @07:47PM (#7957557)
      No it's not an RS232 port. It's a propritary port. The unit comes with a cable that's about 3 feet long that breaks it out into other ports such as Ethernet, USB, VGA (and some others, I don't remember the details)
      This thing is AWSOME! I saw it at CES and I'm seriously thinking of getting one when they come out. It is truely amazing. The only thing I'm not sure of is the screen seemed prone to getting damaged. They also claimed they had it running off the same battery at CES all day and it was still running (so several hour battery life)
      Not sure if the pictures on this site show it (it's slashdotted) as none of the other pictures I've seen show this, but the screen slides up about 1/2 way to reveal a little QWERTY keyboard.
  • Sexy... (Score:3, Funny)

    by ActionPlant ( 721843 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @06:18PM (#7956643) Homepage
    Oh yeah. I'd definitely hit it.

    • Um... (Score:2, Funny)

      by dewie ( 685736 )
      I didn't get to see all the photos before it got slashdotted, but I don't think it accepts that kind of input...
      • You're right. I didn't mean to objectify it. This is a computer, and deserves the same respect that is the right of every computer regardless of speed, platform or form factor.

      • "I didn't get to see all the photos before it got slashdotted, but I don't think it accepts that kind of input..."

        In his case, it might.
  • Upgrade. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Humba ( 112745 ) * on Monday January 12, 2004 @06:19PM (#7956649)
    This is sooo much better than my OQO 1.0
    OQO 1.0 [archive.org]

    The only real change I noticed from the original spec was a 20Gb HD, vs 10Gb in the first.


  • It shifted its target from lightweight users to enterprise users. It's friggin more expensive than cheapo PDA but has not enough juice in it.
  • Nice but.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ..The keyboard looks awkward. With the device set up the way it is, there doesn't seem to be muc provision for placing it on a desk to enter data quickly (well, more quick than dual thumb tapping)
  • From the C|Net article:

    The machines run Microsoft's Windows XP operating system and all the software that goes with it

    I know this is pretty much a /. cliche, but I think that it is actually warranted in this case - can you run Linux on it?

    I can think of several functional uses that a PC of this size could fulfil running Linux.

    • If you can get it to boot off a CD, you could always try Knoppix :)

  • Apparently. The site's already /.'ed. Anyone get a mirror?
  • A while ago (I have no idea) there was some story about some ex-Microsoft founder (don't know which) who was going to make a device just like this.

    I couldn't get to the site to see who runs the company.

    Is this that device?
  • RE: Major problem. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fshalor ( 133678 ) <fshalor.comcast@net> on Monday January 12, 2004 @06:25PM (#7956717) Homepage Journal
    The darn thing runs windows!. Oh.. Nm. All the other specs sound like my ibook. Needs more ram though.

    I don't think this'll be fun to type on, though I'd say it would be much better than the PDA's of today. Looks well constructed from the pictures.

    I'll wait for the solid state CF 2.0 GB internal drive. I've had it with HD's in portable devices. I love my iPod, but I've had so many HD's fail on me that I'm sick of replacing them.

    • I posted about this on usenet once, the response I got was that you'll find out very fast about CF's million read/write cycle when you are using it for a harddrive and part of that is a swapfile...
  • Obviously (Score:3, Funny)

    by Quixadhal ( 45024 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @06:25PM (#7956718) Homepage Journal
    their web site is running on one of these things... probably in someone's pocket (ow!).

    • slashdotting someones pocket? too many request to get in their pants? are those some open ports in your pocket or are you just...

      /em gives up and goes home.
  • Let's see, 4.9 inches wide, 3.4 high, 0.9 deep, weighing 13 ounces... how does this compare in size with the Newton?

    I don't know about putting it in your pocket... maybe if you're wearing a suit or jacket you could load up an outer pocket with one.
  • uPC at PocketThings (Score:5, Informative)

    by romper ( 47937 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @06:26PM (#7956734)
    Here [pocketthings.com] is another site which shows the uPC -- with pics.

    Soon to be Slashdotted too, I'm sure. :)
  • Vaporware (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2004 @06:26PM (#7956745)
    It's vaporware. Oqo has announced previous versions of this product several times, none have ever made it to market. I'd love to have one of them, and many people have been waiting for it, but at this point I'm not holding my breath. I'll believe it when I see it.

    It made /. in 2002 for best vaporware:
    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/ 12/22/022821 7&mode=thread&tid=126

    Slashdot should not be promoting hype from any vendor that has a history like OQO until it's actually released.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      That explains the OQO Duke Nukem: Forever bundle.
    • Re:Vaporware (Score:2, Informative)

      I agree. In a previous thread in last year's vaporware awards Nominations for 2003 Vaporware Awards [slashdot.org] I suggested OQO for 2003, before finding that they won for 2002. They even cited that 2002 award as part of their press package. While I was seriously interested at the $1K price point, 2K is getting a little steep, and that is making the big assumption they ever release one, I am not getting my hopes up and will stick with my clie NX70v
  • Actually this didn't win best of show from techtv. The Denon/Mediabolic networked PVR won that award, this won in its category (mobile computing) http://www.techtv.com/news/ces2004/story/0,24195,3 591383,00.html ------ Got Wang? http://www.battlewang.com
  • by BFedRec ( 257522 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @06:29PM (#7956770) Homepage
    It does look sleek and sexy, but not the most practical. It fills in where a power user needs a PDA, and it seems to have the function built in to become a desktop. But the problem is that it's filling a pretty small niche of people who want more than a PDA but less than a laptop. It's not practical to use this as you primary work travel PC as the keyboard is a thumb-board and isn't good for quick entry. It is an ultimate PDA... but you've got to be a pretty high-roller to spend two grand on your glorified PDA.
    Sadly it's probably a niche market item. I hope they find a way to make those innovations really work with a practical product, but I fear they'll be innovating in the field but not financially leading it. I'd love to try one out but don't see it as a practical addition to my tech tool belt.

    • by Neon Spiral Injector ( 21234 ) * on Monday January 12, 2004 @06:39PM (#7956895)
      I guess I am a niche buyer. But this is exactly what I'm looking for. Laptops are too big, PDAs don't have enough power (and also can't run x86 code).

      I'd take one and two docking stations (one for home and one for work), but it has to run Linux.
      • I asked the rep about Linux on this and he told me that all their engineers run Linux and they actually had Linux running on it before Windows. That said, they won't officially support Linux, BUT they will provide any necessary drivers to run Linux on it.
      • I am going to buy one of these, too. I'm in the market for a new laptop and I'll happily wait the 6+ months it may take for the OQO to hit the market.
      • same here! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by simpl3x ( 238301 )
        so, i bought a fujitsu tablet which weighs in under three pounds. on the road, i access email via a cdma modem, and hunt and peck my way through the emails. at home or at the office, i use a keyboard. the weight was my primary issue. i was really tired of lugging around a full laptop, when the uses for a pc on the road are primarily information gathering and communication.

        my questions about the oqo are: will it use tablet edition of xp, and isn't a 1gz transmeta a bit backwards for 9 months from now? i lik
  • Picture (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    CNet has a picture of the device:
    http://www.cnet.com/4520-7912_1-5116369-1.html?tag =top [cnet.com]
  • customized nano-itx? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by keot ( 667523 )
    the specification seems similar to a nano-itx board, although the dimensions (145 x 86 x 23 mm) seem a tad too small. instead of modding a mini-server into a cdrom drive, you could mod one of these boards into a floppy drive. add a microdrive and the ports you'd need and you'd be well on your way.
  • iPod killer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    No need for an iPod when you can carry around a whole computer.
    • Re:iPod killer (Score:2, Informative)

      by kyoko21 ( 198413 )
      This is the iPod killer. For pretty much the same price, it plays mp3s and it also plays divx, xvid, and it has its own screen to play it on. And it's only twice the thickness. (Did I mention it was almost the same price as a 20 gig ipod?)

      ARchos [archos.com]

  • Just image... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nadamsieee ( 708934 )
    Just image a large warehouse filled with racks upon racks of these things running as an OpenMosix [sourceforge.net] cluster... Super (space efficient) computing at its best. ;)
  • In case you forget aboout google images, here [google.com] you can see pictures of OQO ;)
  • by Hexydes ( 705837 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @06:44PM (#7956940)
    The said this thing would be out in late 2002, early 2003, late 2003, early 2004, and now late 2004. Who cares? They said the price was going to be $800. Then $1,000. Now $2,000. Who cares?

    Neat idea, but the company really sucks at delivering. At least update your webpage. They are only 3 months away from not updating it in 2 years. That's just pathetic. They need to invest in some more resources and a PR team.

  • Uses? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dark Lord Seth ( 584963 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @06:46PM (#7956964) Journal

    Really, what are the uses of these kinds of tiny devices? Heck, for PDAs as well. They're nice toys but they lack power, easy of use and most importantly, a good use. I've only encountered a FEW situations that made me think "Yes, a PDA would be a good tool for this job." and that mostly involves truck drivers and route planners. For the rest I can't seem to find a use for these things. And I'm supposed to seel em for crying out loud.

    As I see it, TINY computers ( PDAs and these toys alike ) are like solutions waiting for a problem.

    • Re:Uses? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by lordvdr ( 682194 )
      I'm sorry, I use my PDA many many times a day. For the basics, ya know, address book, calendar. I don't use it for much beyond that, other than games, a convenient subnet calculator, etc. But saying that PDAs are a solution waiting for a problem is obviously someone who has never really had one. I'd love an easy to use method to get phone numbers into my phone so I only had to put them one place (NOT going to get a PDA/phone, no way), but other than that, could not LIVE without my PDA.
    • Re:Uses? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Rostin ( 691447 )
      ?? I use my PDA all the time, as do many people. I tell it when my meetings are, and it alarms a few minutes before to remind me. I put in all my phone numbers, addresses, etc, and then they are at my fingertips, wherever I go. And, no, I don't have a cell phone that I could put that stuff in. I even have a street map program that gives me directions and lets me search for addresses. Finally, I use it pretty often as a calculator. Could I carry around a "little black book," a bunch of street maps, a s
    • Re:Uses? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by KingJoshi ( 615691 ) <slashdot@joshi.tk> on Monday January 12, 2004 @07:13PM (#7957237) Homepage
      I think these are cool, but not worth 10 times the price of a PDA. And PDAs are useful (but different people have different needs).

      I use mine for the basics (keep track of appointments, tasks, contacts). I also have wireless so I get email. I have my shopping list on there. I track the calories of what I eat. I keep track of my expeneses. I have a dictionary I occasionally use. I have a street map that also has points of interest, which has been useful. I have a graphing calculator. I can voice record or jot down any ideas I have. I also play mp3s on my PDA (the 256MB card still holds 3 hours of songs even with all the other software on it). And also, it can play games when I'm waiting. I've also used it to read ebooks. There are other things a PDA can do. Different people have different needs or some are creative and find other uses. It's a personal digital assistant. It assists me. It may have no use for you, but you have to be pretty blind or stupid to not see how it can be useful for solving many other people's problems. It may not be the only or even best solution. But for me, it solves many and it's easier to carry then a lot of other things combined.
    • Re:Uses? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CarrionBird ( 589738 )
      I use mine a good bit. Basic text entry and word processing, emails, light web browsing, and the traditional PDA functions.

      Plus it doubles as an mp3 player and voice recorder. Basiclly I use it when and where I don't want to lug around all the stuff that goes with my laptop. I can fit the unit and keyboard in a large coat pocket, along with my cell if I need net access. Look at the Dana, basically a palm os based laptop. For some people, that would do everything they need a laptop for. For many others, it

    • Re:Uses? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Linker3000 ( 626634 )
      OK, here goes:

      I have an Ipaq 3970 running Pocket Windows 2002 and fitted with a dual CF jacket housing a Wifi card and a 256MB CF card. The unit has bluetooth and I also have a bluetooth-enabled phone.

      Software on the PDA includes:
      PockeTTY (a ssh client),
      XSForms (create forms on a PC, fill them in on the PDA and then upload the data in XML format back at base,
      Pocket Informant (diary/organiser).

      In my role as a 'roving' techy, consultant and trainer, I am often away from my main office, where I am
    • telephone! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by simpl3x ( 238301 )
      i would love to see a pc card slot so that i could use a cdma cell phone/modem in it. talk about a full featured phone! skip the p900...

      but, in terms of the market you describe, communications are key. and, there is not a slot. What good could it be in that market? oqo needs to be a bit more focused on the market for this product. fujitsu has been doing this for years, and some of the palmtop pc profiles are downright strange, yet driven by customer needs... barcode readers, technician equipment...

      my wish
    • Re:Uses? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by way2trivial ( 601132 )
      with two sets of full size monitor/keyboard/mouse at home and work, you can always pick up where you left off.. + a full computer for use in the field... hmm.. it's like having three perfectly computers all perfectly synchronized....
  • I need a picture with a quarter in it so I can tell how small this thing is.
  • by avgjoe62 ( 558860 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @06:53PM (#7957030)
    One of these actually made it to Real Life? And Doom3 is in pre-order? My God, can DukeNuk'm Forever be far behind?
  • profit!!! (Score:2, Informative)

    by 74nova ( 737399 )
    i think the lameness filter should now catch this "1. 2. 3.profit!!" bidness

    and to stay on topic, i would really like one of these, but sub $2k isnt sub-enough for me. might even be worth it, but thats hefty for a college student. oh well, pdas get bigger/better, and laptops get better/cheaper. someday ill have the $ to get some neat tech toys...
  • a tad late? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Chilles ( 79797 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @07:03PM (#7957122)
    The specs are still all right, I guess..for the size... but when they announced it almost two years ago it had specs I'd die for, right now it's just a too low spec too small expensive laptop, or a too high spec, too short battery life, too heavy pda.
    If it had the size of an average contemporary PDA with these specs it'd be ultra, or with the performance of a P4 2.5GHz with a 120 GB HD and 1024 MB of RAM (a contemporary PC) then it'd be ultra too. Right now it's just a bit smaller, a bit lower performance, a bit more expensive... just a different compromise. Windows XP and Office XP on this hardware? Nothing ultra about that.

    They're still speaking in terms of: "it will be available in QX of 200Y" though, so maybe they're just waiting for the year ipaq's have these specs and HP is willing to produce them OEM style so they can slap their by then hype-laden brand-name on...
  • Sorry to be OT, but this is too amusing to not comment on. Here at /. people very anti M$, but then on the home page there's an ad for visual studio. Is that ironic or what!?!?

  • by crush ( 19364 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @07:14PM (#7957251)
    Was also unveiled. It is based around an iPod-like module [antelopetech.com] which uses the same Toshiba harddrive as the iPod and a Transmeta chip.
  • Everyone and their dog seems to think that Transmeta will never make it in terms of their ultra low heat and ultra portable processors. These things, especially seeing as this one could get off the gound, will be Transmeta's saving grace. They have realized that GHz is no longer the barometer by which users in the know guage performance but it is power consumption and consequently battery life that becomes important as our society moves towards portability bundled with performance. Transmeta has found t
  • not vaporware (Score:3, Interesting)

    by urbaneassault ( 233554 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @07:24PM (#7957349) Homepage
    I saw this device Thursday and drooled the rest of the day. While the rest of the show seemed to be a contest in who could put the most flatscreens in their exhibit, OQO drew a huge croud around their tiny booth in the gargantuan Microsoft display. Having held it and played with it, i can assure you that it's not vaporware. And if it is indeed vaporware, then they've managed to pull the wool over the eyes of many exhibitors who all got to play with this very chic device. While form factor is great, the best feature, i think, is the power dongle, which extends the device well past a simple "not a laptop but not a pda" category that is growing. It has vga, rj45, usb, and firewire all of the same dongle, with usb and audio on the device itself....oh yeah, and it does just fine playing back dvd's...Quite the gadget.
    • At the Transmeta booth, they also had a stand, and the people there were talking tech, not shiny happy MS PR speak. If you were nice, or you happened to have a press badge, they would go into great detail for you. I was one of the two :)

  • New OQO [stevebarr.com]
  • In other news, OQO will be serving its website entirely off of a single uPC
  • One of the slickest things about the OQO is the cable. There is a thick cable on it that you can barely see in my pic:
    I t is wrapped around the guys neck like a bandolier. It has a bump every 8 inches or so, and each bump is a port. One is for a pop-up ethernet plug, another USB, etc etc. You get all the ports in a beautifully efficient way, no clunky dock or block. I should have put it in the article, maybe for a followup. One thing for sure, transmeta had a ton of
  • The skinny (Score:5, Informative)

    by tooz ( 740833 ) on Monday January 12, 2004 @09:03PM (#7958179)
    OK, first of all, it might be later than expected, but it's not vapor. I've held it in my hands and played with it; it's a pretty damned sweet piece of hardware.

    Second of all, it runs linux just fine. The designers have tested it with Red Hat 9 with no problems. They haven't tested BSD, but don't see any reason why that wouldn't work as well; there's some discussion of testing Darwin on it.

    Third, I just asked one of the designers about ports. The reponse:
    "We've got USB, FW (4 pin), Audio (stereo with "extra" feature lines), 2 docking ports, external 802.11 antenna port and Power. USB is 1.1, FW is 400Mb. On the docking connector, we've got: VGA, LVDS (for digital interface to LCD), Serial PCI (for external PCI chassis/devices), same FW, 2 USB lines, Audio, Power. On the docking cable, we've got a USB -> Ethernet converter with RJ-45 plug, male and female VGA connectors (for flexibility of plugging into devices without additional cables), and so on." There is no serial port on the device.

    Fourth, the theory behind the device is to have a box that will convert from a PDA to a desktop machine and back again. You use it in the office, undock it, use it on the train, and redock it to use it again once you get home. No syncing required. It's not really meant just be a turbo-charged PDA.

  • Can't we just nuke the ice caps and save ourselves a few billion in water detecting probes?

    Yes. that IS a joke.
  • Deep ones too? Nah, not too bad, but it's not a tiny device. According to the flyer from the show, it's 4.9" x 3.4" x 0l9" and 14 ounces. Metric? What's Metric?

    Lots bigger than an iPaq or Palm, altho certainly smaller than a Newton.

    But it's much too big for a shirt pocket, and probably too fragile for a pants pocket. Probably destined for a holster or coat.

    Other details:
    Bluetooth, 802.11b, FireWire, 5" VGA screen w/ digitizer, TrackStik w/2 buttons on the keyboard left edge, microphone/speaker, bette

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