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Special in-flight Flybook laptop 'next month'

Long-haul, short battery

So you're two hours into a long-haul flight trying to watch a DVD on your laptop when the person in front of you decides to go to sleep, throws his seat back an obnoxious 30 degrees and shoves your tray table and notebook into your stomach.

Time to watch a bad in-flight movie? Not necessarily. Taiwanese notebook maker Dialogue Technology will begin selling a slender notebook in Japan, Taiwan and parts of Europe next month that's designed for easier use on cramped aircraft.

Called the Flybook, it has a special lid that can be extended upwards on a bracket, pulled towards you and then folded back, so the screen faces up at you. That means it fits neatly behind the reclined seat in front. The Flybook isn't just for use on planes, however, and with the lid in its usual position it functions like any other notebook.

The notebook is based on a low-voltage Core Duo processor from Intel Corp. running at 1.66 GHz, with Intel's 945 GMS chipset, which has an integrated graphics chip.

Battery blow

The Flybook has a 12in screen and includes up to 2GB of RAM and a 30GB hard drive. It will be priced at $1,800 to $2,000 (about £970 to £1,080), depending on the configuration, said Dialogue president Jack Lee. He hopes to sell it in North America too, but is still fixing up a sales channel there, he said.

Battery life is modest, at least in the Flybook's first iteration. The standard three-cell battery offers just under two hours. If you want to watch a full-length movie you'll have to invest in an optional six-cell battery, which gives four hours of battery life.

That should improve with a future version of the Flybook, which will incorporate Intel's first dual-core 'ultra low power' processor, which was unveiled at Computex in Taiwan this week. Using the Core Duo ULV (Ultra Low Voltage) should improve the Flybook's battery life up by about 15 per cent, Lee said. He'll also increase the Flybook's hard drive to 60GB.

The Core Duo ULV just went into production and will appear in notebooks in the third quarter, said Keith Kressin, director of marketing for Intel's mobile platforms group. He showed a prototype 12in notebook from HP, which also will use the new chip. It weighs about 3 pounds (1.4kg), he said.


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