Mitsubishi unveils notebook

Previewed in September, the magnesium-encased ultrathin Pedion makes its official debut, and will hit the market in the first quarter of 1998.

Mitsubishi formally announced the release of the Pedion, a magnesium-encased ultrathin notebook that will come to the U.S in the first quarter of 1998.

Mitsubishi's Pedion is the first notebook computer that actually approximates the dimensions of the well-known spiral-bound paper notebook. Its footprint (its width and length) is similar to standard-sized notebooks, but the Pedion measures 18.4mm (less than three-fourths of an inch thick) and weighs less than three pounds, far less than current notebooks. When closed, it could pass for an airline tray table.

But the form factor comes at a high price. The Pedion will cost $6,000.

While thinner, the computer packs features one might see on a standard high-end notebooks. The Pedion comes with a Pentium MMX chip running at 233 MHz, a 12.1-inch screen, a standard-sized notebook keyboard, 64MB of RAM, and a 1.0GB hard drive.

Mitsubishi developed the Pedion in conjunction with Hewlett-Packard, which will likely release its own ultrathin notebook sometime later next year, executives at that company have said. (Deborah Giannoni, product manager for notebooks at HP, noted that HP has made no formal commitment to the form factor.)

To achieve the thinner form factor, Mitsubishi had to develop or commission number of new internal components. The computer's magnesium case is another innovation, adopted to create a sturdier housing.

A prototype of the computer was greeted with great excitement by analysts and reporters when shown on September 8, when Intel released its 233-MHz and 200-MHz Pentium MMX chips for notebooks.

The sleek, high-end design comes with a high-end price point, an eye-opening $6,000. A version using the 200-MHz chip, hinted at by Mitsubishi executives, would cost around $4,900.

Mitsubishi has released the computer in Japan and will preview it again at Comdex. The U.S. release will occur in the first quarter of next year.

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