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Nokia upgrades PC tablet with Skype download

The Linux-based N800 supports Skype VoIP software and can connect to the Net via Wi-Fi. Photos: The N800, plus Nokia's N76 phone

Nokia has updated its popular Internet tablet PC with a range of improvements, including the ability to make Skype calls.

Skype's software can be downloaded to the new tablet, allowing users to make voice over Internet Protocol calls from the device when they are within reach of a Wi-Fi hotspot. The tablet's 802.11b/g radio auto-connects to Wi-Fi hotspots, meaning users can use make free Internet calls and avoid paying standard mobile phone fees.

The new version of the tablet, which will be released this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is called the N800 Internet Tablet.

It offers a substantial performance boost over the previous model, the N770. RAM is increased to 128MB and the processor works at 320MHz, up from 220MHz. The N800 also features a QWERTY keyboard and Opera browser.

But it will not be cheap. Nokia is planning a retail price of about $520, excluding local taxes. Battery life should be around 3.5 hours.

The Linux-based tablet also boasts support for instant messaging, PDF documents, MP3 and Mpeg4, and contains two hot-swappable memory card slots, compatible with secure digital flash memory cards and multimedia flash memory cards.

Richard Thurston of ZDNet UK reported from London.