Intel bets big on another wireless gadget

Intel is betting on a big expansion of 'ultra-mobile' computing, an idea that depends on people being willing to tote around a portable device beyond their ubiquitous cell phones, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report quoted in an interview, Intel CEO Paul Otellini as saying that energy-efficient, web-connected computers with full keyboards and screens in the 4-inch neighborhood can give people more of what they want from the internet than cell phones can.

To help stimulate development of the technology, Intel plans in the next few months to begin shipping processors and associated 'chipsets' that demand relatively little power and are smaller than standard PC processors, allowing them to be crammed into tinier devices, which would be built by other companies, the report said.

So-called ultra-mobile computers, smaller than average laptops but bigger and more fully featured than most cell phones, have so far found a tepid response, the report said.

It added that many potential buyers have found little reason either to scale down from notebook computers or up from cell phones that have been improving their web browsing experience, especially when the price often tops $1,000.

But Otellini said such distinctions will cease to matter, especially since smaller web devices can incorporate cell phone functions. And he said Apple's iPhone showed that combination devices can be elegant.

Otellini acknowledged that this vision for ultra-mobile computing is a few years away from becoming realized, the report further said.