Judges' Award: This portable is in a league of its own

Netbook Pro

Company: Psion TekLogix Inc., Erlanger, Ky., www.psionteklogix.com.

Nutshell: 400-MHz Intel PXA 255 XScale processor; 32M Flash and 128M SDRAM; Windows CE .Net 4.2; 8.25-inch diagonal, 800-by-600 pixel SCGA LCD display; USB and RS-232 connectivity; CF, SDIO and PC Card slots.

Price: $980 up.

Why it won: Fills the gap between PDAs and notebook or tablet PCs. Low-power system ensures long battery life and absence of moving parts increases durability.

The Netbook Pro, at 9.25 by 7.24 by 1.38 inches, splits the difference between a PDA and a notebook or tablet PC.

Henrik G. de Gyor

Sometimes companies advance a product category by adding something new and exciting. Then there are companies like Psion TekLogix Inc. that create entire new categories.

The Netbook Pro is a device for people who could use something like a portable tablet PC, but don't want to carry the extra weight, worry about the frailty of most tablets, or who simply need more battery capacity.

The Netbook Pro runs Microsoft Windows CE .Net 4.2, so it boots instantly with no wait time. It has an Intel PXA 255 XScale processor running at 400 MHz.

It is less than half the size of a standard notebook but has a full-size keyboard. The 800- by 600-pixel display comes with a daylight-readable coating for outdoor use and is also a touch screen, so tablet-type applications work with it.

The Netbook Pro's high storage capacity makes it ideal for capturing information on forms or creating work-related documents. The device itself runs on 32M of Flash memory. It has 128M of synchronous dynamic RAM for user storage. Users can expand the memory further using CompactFlash, Secure Digital I/O or PC Card slots, which are standard.

'The Netbook Pro was created to fill the gap between the small and large form factors, such as the PDA and laptop,' said Barry Boyd, senior program manager for Psion TekLogix. It also meets many of the demands of mobile users, with instant on-off, long-battery life and a range of functions, he said.

The Netbook has no moving parts, so if it is handled roughly in the field, the data will probably survive. Bumping across back roads in the cab of a truck certainly won't affect performance, and it probably would survive a drop from a reasonably small height.

Winning points

The Netbook Pro has several advantages over other notebooks. The most obvious is battery life. With no moving parts, it will run seven to eight hours without a battery recharge. Most notebooks can squeeze out only three hours.

Compared with a PDA, the most obvious advantages are screen size and expansion capabilities. If you are working with drop-down menus and forms creation, or even just typing a word processor file, the screen size'8.25 inches on the diagonal'is much better than the 2-inch screen found on most PDAs. Also, the Netbook Pro's resolution can reach 800 pixels by 600 pixels.

From an administrator's perspective, the CE .Net 4.2 OS is easily supportable. Unlike most notebooks, invalid or unauthorized applications can be easily removed from the system by blanking the storage memory. This won't harm the embedded OS.

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