Tadpole Unveils Unix Mobile Workstation

New 64-bit machine will be half the cost of Tadpole's least expensive notebook.

Since its managed buyout from its parent company earlier this year, Tadpole Computer Inc. has said it will create two product lines, one in keeping with its high-end and expensive Unix-based laptops.

The second one will house less expensive mobile computers that officials with the Cupertino, Calif., company hope will help expand their customer base.

On Monday, Tadpole came out with the first of these products, a 64-bit Unix mobile workstation called Sparcle. The new device starts at $2,995, half the cost of the companys least expensive notebook, the Sparcbook 5000, which can range in price from $6,000 to almost $12,000. The average price of a Tadpole product until now was in the $25,000 to $30,000 range, officials said.

There will be several models of the laptop, with prices ranging to about $6,000.

"The opportunity here is to leverage the technical piece and get a product out there to the market, and a big step in that is the price," said Mark Johnston, president and CEO of Tadpole.

The notebook, available immediately, is completely binary compatible with Sun Microsystems Inc.s Sparc chip technology and Solaris operating system. Its high-end version offers up to a 650MHz Sparc IIi chip, 2GB of memory and an 80GB hard drive. It also weighs in at 6.5 pounds and offers up to 3 hours of battery life, according to Edward Crump, director of engineering.

Crump said the machine should not be viewed as simply a notebook, but more as a server with notebook capabilities that can run Java applications and has StarOffice in every system shipped.

There also is a CPU sharing technology that enables users whose CPU is not being fully utilized to run tasks in a background mode via a wireless 802.11b WiFi network, Crump said.

Though Tadpole traditionally works in the Unix space, John Butler, vice president of sales and marketing, said the company will keep an eye on how Intel Corp.s 64-bit Itanium chip and Advanced Micro Device Inc.s 64-bit Opteron processor develop, and will consider them in the future.

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