Blending digital whiteboard technology with the portability of a notebook computer, IBM is giving the industry its first glimpse of the IBM ThinkPad TransNote, a modified ThinkPad with a letter-size writing tablet attached to its side.

Due to hit US streets in late February, the TransNote is aimed at notebook users who still take notes by hand, according to IBM’s Rick Bause.

The standard ThinkPad chassis of the device has a slightly smaller screen to accommodate IBM's ThinkScribe digital notepad, which is fixed to the right side of the unit.

With Big Blue's digital pen, users write or doodle on plain writing paper that covers the ThinkScribe notepad, which reads the impressions as a graphics image file, not an editable text file, according to Bause.

TransNote is not a handwriting recognition tool, but more of an image-capture device, which saves writing exactly as it is rendered.

This digital whiteboard-style technology makes the TransNote ideal for architects and other workers who would benefit from being able to sketch their ideas and either save them to disk or transmit the images via the Internet, Bause said.

The 5.5 pound ThinkPad TransNote will house a 600MHz Intel Corp. SpeedStep Pentium III processor and will have optional wireless 802.11 technology, according to Bause.

Available in late February through all current IBM channels, the TransNote will have a sticker price of around £2000.