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High-tech Etch-a-Sketch reaches market

Wacom, a Vancouver, Washington-based maker of tablet input devices, is offering what could be the display of the future.

    Wacom, the Vancouver, Washington-based maker of tablet input devices, is offering what could be the display of the future.

    At the Seybold conference for publishing industry professionals, Wacom introduced a 1.5-inch thick video display tablet that lets users navigate, draw, and manipulate graphic information and view the changes on the tablet.

    The PL-300 LCD Display Tablet is essentially a 10.4-inch active matrix display much like one finds in notebook computers, except an electronic cordless pen is used to input information by writing on the display. The pen is pressure-sensitive, meaning that lines can be made thicker or darker by pressing down; the pen also has an "eraser" for correcting mistakes or lightening drawings.

    Wacom says the 800-by-600-pixel color display offers twice the resolution of a mouse input, allowing graphic artists and others to input information with greater accuracy. The company says other markets possibly needing a new input interface include medicine, financial, and industrial applications where signature capture and handwriting recognition are needed.

    Futuristic technology comes at a price, though. The tablet is priced at $2,699 and is currently available in the U.S. and Canada in limited quantities.