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News from Mobile Insights in Arizona

Notepad or notebook, and the end of TiVo?

IBM will officially launch the ThinkPad TransNote, a digital ink and notebook PC hybrid device, at the Mobile Insights conference in Phoenix, Arizona this week.

The IBM TransNote will go on sale in the US this week at a starting price of $2,999 with an Intel Pentium III 600-MHz processor, a 10.4" TFT screen, and a 10GB hard drive. When it will be for sale in the UK is unknown.

What makes the TransNote unique is the other half of the system that is connected to a digital notepad dubbed the ThinkScribe by IBM.

The ThinkScribe allows a user to write using an ink-filled digital pen. Any type of paper sits atop an electronic grid array that senses and captures the pen movements and uses an radio transmitter to send the saved file to the notebook. Although in a graphics file, notes can be searched by keyword, date, and subject matter, among other parameters.

Another turn up for the books at Mobile Insights is the possible premature redundancy of those hard disk-based TV set-top boxes such as TiVo, launched in the UK last year.

USB On the Go, the specification for the version of USB to be built into non-PC devices, is not far from being finished. When USB On the Go is finally approved we can expect to find a host version embedded in handheld devices, mobile phones, and set-top boxes.

Once deployed, companies such as Pioneer plan to embed USB in set-top boxes for attachment of peripherals, including keyboards or even hard drives. This would allow people to download movies through the set-top box without the use of players such as the TiVo device.

One of the first handheld manufacturers to deploy USB will be the Palm-clone PDA company Handspring, according to a source in the industry.

PC Advisor is featuring the TransNote in the New Products section of the current April issue, out now.

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