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HP, Mitsubishi form notebook team

In tandem with the unveiling of the Tillamook, HP displayed a prototype weighing 3.1 pounds and measuring less than three-quarters of an inch in thickness.

Hewlett-Packard (HWP) and Mitsubishi announced they will partner in producing a superlight notebook computer using Intel's new Tillamook microprocessor.

Alongside today's unveiling of the HP ultraportable notebook Tillamook, HP displayed a prototype weighing 3.1 pounds and measuring 18.4mm (less than three-quarters of an inch) in thickness--approximately the size of an airline tray-table.

Largely the same product will be marketed as the Mitsubishi Pediom in Japan, and as part of HP's OmniBook line in North America, said Mitsubishi's Takashi Gotoh, general manager of mobile computing.

Both 200-MHz and 233-MHz Tillamook processors will incorporated, but the Pediom/OmniBook model will not be available with the module version of the chip. The Tillamook module is a small circuit board that contains other companion chips as well as the microprocessor, meaning much of the main computer circuitry is part of one unit.

The Pediom/OmniBook will come with a base memory configuration of 32MB RAM and a 1GB hard drive. Mitshubishi will provide the keyboard and battery components and LCD display technology, while HP will lend its notebook system know-how.

Company officials are also touting its magnesium case, which is harder than standard plastic shells. Consumers worry that ultraslim notebooks are none too sturdy, according to HP product marketing manager Taia Erguleta.

The Pediom will be available in Japan beginning October 1, priced at 598,000 yen (approximately $4,900) for the 200-MHz version and 798,000 yen ($6,600) for the 233-MHz version. It will be available in North America after Comdex in November. HP's OmniBook, not yet assigned a series number, will be available in the first quarter of 1998.

Both Mitsubishi and HP are currently active in the notebook market. In June, Mitshbishi showed off a Pentium-based ultraportable called Amity CN weighing 2.2 pounds. HP has been working hard to shore up its notebook division, moving the division's headquarters to the San Francisco Bay area from Oregon in January and also introducing several new models in the OmniBook series.