Casio to join subnotebook market

The Japanese electronics maker is apparently poised to reenter the PC market with a portable, a natural move after a long absence.

Japanese electronics maker Casio is apparently poised to reenter the personal computer market after a decade-long absence by expanding its established lineup of handheld devices into the closely related field of "subnotebooks."

Casio will unveil a notebook PC with an undersized screen and keyboard later this year, hoping to tap surging demand for ultraportable systems, said company sources cited by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. Notebooks have passed desktops in popularity in the Japanese consumer market, according to a recent report.

Perhaps best known for its watches, Casio also sells a range of electronics devices, from digital cameras and portable music devices to desktop televisions. In the computer industry, the company already markets the Cassiopeia handheld PC, which runs on Windows CE, as well as several kinds of calculators, personal organizers, and other handheld devices.

Such a lineup makes the jump to a more traditional--if still diminutive--notebook product seem to be a natural. One difference: Notebooks typically run the full-fledged version of Microsoft's Windows operating system and Intel or Intel-compatible chips, while handhelds rely on CE or other "small footprint" operating systems and lower-power processors made by a wide variety of manufacturers.

Casio's subnotebook will come in a form factor that's about 2.5-centimeters thick and weighs about 850 grams. That would place it between Sony's larger Vaio notebook and Toshiba's ultrasmall Libretto, according to Nikkei.

The portable would feature a 6.7-inch screen and run Windows 98. It's expected to sell for 250,000 yen, about $1,790.