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Pret a portable from Hitachi

Wearable PC collared for European launch, maybe

Hitachi will roll out a wearable PC and companion head-mounted display in February, the company announced this week.

The WIA-100NB Wearable Internet Appliance's head-mounted display features an adjustable arm which should be placed about 60cm in front of one eye, with or without glasses. This gives the illusion of a 13in display, and has an 800x600 resolution, Hitachi said.

Aimed at workers on the move, Hitachi has tried to keep the weight of the computer and display to a minimum and the entire set tips the scales at 500g, including the 310g main appliance, 80g head-mounted display and other peripherals such as a cable. The main appliance measures 140x90x26mm.

The product runs Microsoft's Windows CE operating system and can be controlled by a pointing device, which allows a finger to trace the cursor around the screen and click on items in view.

The WIA-100NB features Hitachi's SuperH 32bit 128MHz Risc processor, 32MB of memory, a CompactFlash slot and a USB interface. Battery life — a constant sticking point with portable systems — is three hours, according to the company.

Hitachi originally developed this product and supplied it to the US-based wearable computer maker Xybernaut, which will market the device under its brand name in the US as the 'Poma'. Xybernaut showed samples of the device at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month.

Hitachi will market the device in Japan under its own brand name as the WIA-100NB Wearable Internet Appliance. No plans have yet been announced for any European release, but at potentially just over a grand ex VAT this looks good to us.


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