Intel puts a PC in the dashboard

At CeBit, chipmaker puts new spin on the term "portable computer," with gadgets meant for the open road.

HANNOVER, Germany--Intel executives at CeBit have been showing off a bit of snazzy gear for cars: an onboard PC.

The as-yet-unnamed computer, which is made by Electronic Equipment Produktion & Distribution and uses an Intel Pentium M chip, can give drivers access to the Internet via 3G, Wi-Fi or 3GSM wireless networks.

Drivers can check e-mail using voice recognition, surf the Web, put on a DVD for the passengers in the back or even watch a second DVD when stationary. The computer also works as a route finder.

The computer, which was installed in a modified BMW Mini at the CeBit trade show, is designed to fit the radio slot in dashboards and can also play MP3s to compensate for the lack of a dedicated sound system.

In addition, the chipmaker showed off a touch-screen "stick on the dashboard" portable PC, the Sony Vaio U-70, that is smaller than a typical laptop but bigger than a PDA. Intel said the U-70 was designed to let people synchronize the machine with other PCs for calendar details, directions and other voice-activated information.

Earlier this year, security researchers were looking into the possibility that viruses could attack onboard computers. Intel denied that viruses could affect driving system computers.

"The computer system is totally separate from the car's electrics, ABS airbag and motor," said Hans-Jurgen Werner, business press spokesman for Intel Germany.

Dan Ilett of ZDNet UK reported from Hannover, Germany.

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