Intended to be used as an alternative to a smartphone and an ultraportable laptop, the FlipStart is stylishly designed, powerful and reasonably lightweight. It hasn't yet been launched in the UK, but we expect it to cost in the region of £1,200-to-£1,500. With its tiny keyboard, we found it to be an inadequate substitute for our trusty laptop, which remains our tool of choice when on the road.

Having said that, the FlipStart is still the most usable device in this vein that we've seen. The 5.6in display is bright and sharp, but it isn't easy to read text on. The zoom key, however, immediately zooms in on the screen where the cursor is, while the keyboard is slightly larger than on a smartphone. But it's still not really comfortable and, for creating extensive documents, you'll want a portable keyboard.

The pointing system is clever but takes some getting used to. However, the decision to place functions such as Page Up and Down and Home on a four-way toggle button makes the system work far better than it ought to given the space constraints.

The FlipStart is stuffed with innovative features. The InfoPane consists of an LCD display built into the top of the device. Close the lid and switch the FlipStart into standby, and you can still access your Outlook email, contacts and appointments via the display without opening and restarting the device. And InfoPane can automatically update should email messages come in. A great feature is the FlipStart Navigator, which provides fast access to apps.

Connectivity is good, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support come as standard. You'll also be able to connect to the web using a mobile service; more details will be released nearer to launch.

Preview: FlipStart: Specs

  • 1.1GHz Intel Pentium M processor
  • XP Pro/Vista Business
  • 512MB DDR RAM
  • 30GB hard drive
  • 5.6in display
  • 1,024x600 resolution
  • Wi-Fi 8011b/g
  • Bluetooth
  • 3-6 hours life
  • USB 2.0
  • 150x115x41mm
  • 0.8kg
  • 1.1GHz Intel Pentium M processor
  • XP Pro/Vista Business
  • 512MB DDR RAM
  • 30GB hard drive
  • 5.6in display
  • 1,024x600 resolution
  • Wi-Fi 8011b/g
  • Bluetooth
  • 3-6 hours life
  • USB 2.0
  • 150x115x41mm
  • 0.8kg

OUR VERDICT

If you create extensive documents while you're mobile, don't even think about getting a FlipStart - at least unless you buy an add-on keyboard. If you need only to check your email, contacts and appointments on the move, a smartphone will likely be sufficient. But if you fall somewhere inbetween, this is an intriguing choice.

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