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Hand-size Windows PCs within your grasp

Start-up Antelope Technologies is getting ready to release the Modular Computing Core, a Windows XP computer that fits into a person's hand.

Start-up Antelope Technologies plans to release next month a Windows XP computer that fits into a person's hand.

The Highlands Ranch, Colo.-based company plans to start selling the PC, dubbed the Modular Computing Core (MCC), starting Nov. 7, said Marya Kokaska, a company representative.

Originally announced in 2002, the MCC is a full-fledged Windows computer that measures 3 inches by 5 inches--about the size of a Palm handheld--and is about an inch thick.

Ultrasmall computers remain a niche market. Mini-notebooks, which weigh around 2 pounds and have 10- or 12-inch screens, generally sell in modest numbers. Still, many of the design ideas that first emerged with these notebooks--such as metallic cases, which first cropped up in the failed Mitsubishi Pedion--eventually go mainstream.

The MCC will cost $3,970 and will come with a desktop cradle, a foldable keyboard, a sleeve for easier handheld and portable use, and a carrying case, among other features. It will largely be targeted at corporate buyers.

Antelope has begun to take preorders for the machine. Supplies will be limited initially, but the company hopes to start shipping 1,000 to 2,000 units a month next year, Kokaska said.

The MCC is based on the Meta Pad, a minicomputer designed by IBM. Big Blue chose not to pursue the project but licensed it to Antelope instead.

Another start-up, OQO, is expected to release a similar handheld computer soon, according to sources close to the company, who added that OQO recently received additional outside funding. The company could not be reached for comment

Antelope's computer contains a 1GHz Crusoe processor from Transmeta, 256MB of memory, and a 10GB or 15GB hard drive. It weighs 9.1 ounces.