Fujitsu to bring Transmeta laptop to U.S.

The Japanese giant announces it is bringing to the United States a notebook PC using the latest low-power Crusoe processor from the struggling chipmaker.

2 min read
Transmeta got some welcome news Monday as Fujitsu announced it is bringing to the United States a notebook PC using the latest low-power Crusoe processor from the struggling chipmaker.

Transmeta, which last week ousted its CEO and reported it sold just $5 million worth of chips in the third quarter, has found a niche with Japanese PC makers but has struggled to crack the U.S. market. Sony, Casio and NEC have introduced notebooks for sale here, but Compaq Computer and IBM announced plans to stick with Intel's low-power chips.

"It's good to see that they can get some design wins," said Nathan Brookwood, analyst at Insight 64. However, Brookwood said Transmeta still faces challenges in convincing PC makers to adopt Crusoe.

Brookwood said Fujitsu and others are getting better battery life these days, but chips are only a small part of the energy equation.

"The processor is not the major consumer of power in this class of product by far," Brookwood said. "People who are getting improved battery life are doing it through their approach to LCD technology and disc technology as much as, or more than, chip technology."

The new Fujitsu notebook, known as the LifeBook P, is Fujitsu's first U.S. model with a Crusoe chip, although the PC maker has been selling two Transmeta-based models in Japan, according to a Fujitsu representative. The company said the U.S. model should be available in mid-November.

"We recognized the acceptance of its predecessor notebook in the Japanese and Asia-Pacific markets and are confident the LifeBook P Series will succeed here in the U.S.," Sara Nelson, Fujitsu's vice president of marketing, said in a statement.

The LifeBook P will start at $1,499 and can either hold a combination DV-CD recording drive or a second battery that Fujitsu says gives the computer up to 14.5 hours of battery life. It comes standard with a 10.6-inch SXGA TFT screen, a 20GB hard drive, 128MB SDRAM, ATI Rage Mobility-M video card and an external USB floppy drive.

The chip used in the LifeBook P, the 800MHz Crusoe 5800, has been delayed, but the Fujitsu representative said problems with the chip did not affect the timing of the LifeBook launch. Transmeta originally announced the 5800 on June 25.

Sony last week announced a new PictureBook based on the 5800. The C1MV, also due to hit store shelves in mid-November, uses a 733MHz Crusoe 5800-series processor, has a 20GB hard drive and will retail for around $1,900.

Transmeta shares have been trading below $5 since early this summer and have been hovering between $1 and $2 in recent weeks.

News.com's Michael Kanellos contributed to this report.