Sharp to launch mini mobile PC

Sharp unveiled plans for a new device that fits somewhere between a smartphone and a netbook. The Japanese company said it will launch a paperback book-sized mini mobile PC, code-named "NetWalker," next month, and will sell it for around $480.

The NetWalker will feature a short boot time, touchscreen display and a keyboard, and will run for about 10 hours on every charge. Sharp plans to launch the NetWalker in Japan first, and hopes to sell about 100,000 units by March. The gadget runs a Linux operating system and a processor from Freescale, and supports WiFi connections.

Qualcomm recently debuted a concept for a device called a smartbook, which it said falls somewhere between the smartphone and netbook categories. According to Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm CEO, the smartbook will have the processor of a smartphone and a Gobi module so it can run on various wireless networks.

Indeed, the space between smartphones and laptops is becoming dramatically more crowded. Nokia, the world's largest phone manufacturer, recently announced plans to enter the netbook game with a machine running Microsoft's Windows platform. Conversely, netbook heavyweight Acer earlier this year unveiled a lineup of smartphones, further blurring the lines among suppliers of electronic gizmos.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Reuters article

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