Japan handheld with Intel Atom chip debuts

Willcom, Sharp, Microsoft, and Intel have announced an ultra-mobile device using Intel's Atom processor, one of the first devices to be officially announced.

Sharp got atomized Monday. The Japanese electronics maker along with Willcom announced the ultra-mobile Willcom D4 "communication device" based on Intel's Atom processor and Microsoft's Vista operating system.

Willcom D4 ultra-mobile communications device
Willcom D4 ultra-mobile communications device Willcom

Microsoft and Intel were also credited with development of the device, according to the Japanese-language release on the Sharp Web site.

The handheld-size device uses a 1.33GHz Z520 Intel Atom processor and runs Windows Vista Home Premium (with Service Pack 1). Other prototype devices based on similar designs--referred to as mobile Internet devices or MIDs--have also been shown running the Linux operating system.

With a separate headset, the device can also be used as a phone using Wilcom's Personal Handy-phone System (PHS) network, both Sharp and Willcom said.

The device weighs in at 470 grams (about one pound) and features a 5-inch sliding LCD (1024x600/262K colors) with an LED backlight, a 1.8-inch 40GB hard disk drive (Ultra ATA/100), 64-key QWERTY keyboard, a built-in camera, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a mirco SD card slot, and a USB 2.0 slot.

The D4's inclusion of a 40GB hard disk drive is an indicator that the device is meant to run Windows--because of the operating system's typically larger footprint--not Linux.

Intel Atom technology includes a single-chip with integrated graphics called the Intel System Controller Hub.

Atom will find its way into fit-in-your-pocket MIDs from Gigabyte, Toshiba, LG Electronics, Lenovo, and BenQ, among others. Netbooks (inexpensive, Internet-centric ultra-small notebook PCs) such as Asus's popular Intel-based Eee PC, MSI's Wind PC, and Clevo will also use the chip.

Willcom D4 is slated for a June release and is expected to be priced at 128,600 yen ($1,272).