December 9, 1996 10 AM ET

WinBook hedges bets with new ultrathin
By Mark Moore

  WinBook Computer Corp. is readying a line of ultrathin notebooks designed to accommodate 200MHz Pentium processors with multimedia extensions--or a substitute chip from one of Intel Corp.'s competitors.

WinBook, a Hilliard, Ohio, subsidiary of Micro Electronics Inc., will release in April its first ultrathin notebook, which is 1.65 inches thick and weighs about 5 pounds with the floppy drive or CD-ROM drive installed. JVC Corp., of Japan, will build the WinBook notebooks on an OEM basis, according to sources close to WinBook.

The ultrathin notebooks will be designed for use with up to a 200MHz Pentium processor with MMX (multimedia extension) technology. The motherboards also can accommodate other processors manufactured by Intel, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Cyrix Corp., sources said.

WinBook officials would not comment on the forthcoming products or on design decisions to support non-Intel processors. WinBook also is considering developing ultrathin models with non-MMX processors, sources said.

The ultrathin WinBook notebook line will be available with three thin-film-transistor screen options: 12.1-inch XGA, 12.1-inch Super VGA or 11.3-inch Super VGA, sources said.

The notebooks will be equipped with a 12mm floppy drive that swaps out for a CD-ROM drive, as much as 72M bytes of RAM and a 128-bit graphics accelerator developed by Neomagic Corp., the sources said.

The WinBook ultrathin units will offer a built-in 33.6K-bps fax modem, as well as a lithium-ion battery. However, the company also is evaluating new lithium-ion polymer batteries that provide even greater battery life for future iterations of the ultrathin notebook PCs, sources said.

"Anything that's lighter and can stand up to the daily beating, that's ... my criteria [for portables]," said Tracy Lussier, vice president of development for Mugar Enterprises Inc., in Boston.

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