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Sotec enters U.S. notebook market

A 150-MHz Mobile Pentium processor model will be released this fall.

Sotec will become the latest Japanese vendor to enter the U.S. notebook market when it begins pushing a new line this summer, followed by a 150-MHz notebook in the fall.

Established in 1984 and with sales of $73 million in 1994, Sotec has become a significant player in the Japanese market over the last few years, delivering cutting-edge notebook designs more quickly than the major PC players in Japan. The company has also been an OEM supplier of notebooks to U.S. companies such as Gateway 2000.

The company will market lightweight notebooks now code-named Bird and Bird+ in the United States starting in July and will also supply "major U.S. PC companies" on an OEM basis, a Sotec spokesperson said. Sotec will initially market the notebooks only in California but later plans to expand sales nationwide.

The 4.7-pound Bird will pack a 100- or 133-MHz Mobile Pentium processor initially but will offer a 150-MHz Mobile Pentium processor model later in the year. The 150-MHz Mobile Pentium processor has not yet been announced by Intel.

Other features include an 11.3-inch active-matrix Super VGA LCD screen, 16MB of RAM, a removable 1.2GB hard disk drive, an internal 28.8-kpbs modem, infrared capability, internal speakers, and a glide-pointing device. The notebooks also come with a 2-pound base unit that includes a 6X CD-ROM drive and bay.

Although the company has not yet set U.S. pricing, the notebook with its base unit will be marketed first in Japan for more than $4,000.

Hitachi and Fujitsu are also making forays into the U.S. notebook market.