Via Unveils NanoBook Tiny Modular PC

Via Technology and a partner, FIC, announce a cheap, light "NanoBook" reference design that uses plug-in USB modules to add features like GPS and VOIP. (

TAIPEI—Via Technology announced a "NanoBook" reference design with a partner, FIC, which uses plug-in USB modules—about the size of an iPod Nano—to add additional features.

If it sounds like yet another twist on ultramobile computing, youre right. The NanoBook runs Windows XP and even Vista Basic, but allows users to use a close-to-full-size keyboard while keeping the rest of the system compact and low power.

Eventually, the device will come to market in the United States, priced at about $600, said Richard Brown, the vice president of marketing for Via. However, the company has yet to name (or decide upon) a partner, he said in an interview.

For now, the device will be sold through European partner Packard Bell, he said, as the basis for the forthcoming EasyNote XS.

"What were doing with Computex is [answering the question] how do we make the market, how do we expand the market for the UMPC, and bring it into the mainstream," Brown said in an interview at the Computex show here.

"In a way, this notebook is a BlackBerry on steroids," Brown added.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about Via Technologies low-power chip designs.

Via traditionally has been a microprocessor manufacturer, but has gradually shifted its emphasis onto working with partners and creating reference designs for low-power computers, especially in Asia.

The company is still the third-largest X86 manufacturer, but far, far behind AMD and Intel. With that said, the company is still working on microprocessor design; its next chip, called the CN, is due in 2008, Brown said.

In the meantime, its designs like the NanoBook that are holding the companys attention.

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