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IBM'S NEWEST PC PUTS THE 'NOTE' IN NOTEBOOK.

International Business Machines Corp. said it will begin selling a laptop computer geared to note-taking professionals that combines a powerful laptop computer with an electronic note pad that stores handwritten notes.

The TransNote computer folds like a portfolio, with a swiveling 10-inch touch screen and full keyboard on the left, and an electronic slate on the right that stores handwriting and transfers it to the computer.

The computer will be available in late February for about $3,000, IBM said, and is geared to copious notetakers, such as lawyers and bankers, who struggle to keep their papers in good order. The slate can be covered with regular paper and written on with a special ink pen that also transmits its movements.

The TransNote is the latest of IBM's popular Thinkpad notebooks, its innovative line that pioneered the now commonplace eraser head pointing devices on many laptops.

Thinkpads have remained a profitable shining star in a personal computer business beset by losses.

The TransNote takes a page from tablet computers -- such as the Stylistic from Fujitsu Ltd. -- which feature a touch screen that is used along with a stylus. The TransNote combines the touch screen with a keyboard, allowing it to be used like any other computer.

"Tablets don't have the flexibility of inputting large amounts of information," Thomas Grimes, IBM's manager for mobile systems, said in an interview.

The development of the TransNote comes as other PC makers, who have long made their money with standard-looking desktop and notebook computers, move into the market for so-called Internet appliances and other gadgets.

With a single device that combines pen-based and keyboard-based computing, the TransNote blurs the line slightly between standard PCs and handheld organizers like Palm Inc.'sPalm Pilot and Handspring Inc.'s Visor.

IBM's Grimes said the TransNote has only a limited ability to understand handwriting, but said professionals and students would nevertheless find value in storing their notes piecemeal as an image.

The notes can be stored in computer folders, passed along as e-mails, and attached to appointments in calendar programs. With special software, the TransNote can process basic forms that use check boxes.

"The technology for free-form handwriting recognition isn't at the level that we feel the customer won't get frustrated with," he said.

The computer is currently being tested by companies in the insurance, banking, education, and legal sectors, Grimes said.
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Comment:IBM'S NEWEST PC PUTS THE 'NOTE' IN NOTEBOOK.
Publication:EDP Weekly's IT Monitor
Article Type:Product Announcement
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 15, 2001
Words:394
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