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NEC working on Java portable

The WebPanel will feature a sleek, 12.1-inch active-matrix color screen with no keyboard or mouse and based on Java software.

NEC is developing a portable touch-screen device for using the Internet that is based on the Java programming language, a product that could greatly change how and where users get online.

NEC's "WebPanel," intended for home and portable use, will feature a thin form-factor, comprising a 12.1-inch active-matrix color screen but no keyboard or mouse. The first prototype will be completed by the end of March 1998, according to a report in the online edition of Nikkei Business Publications.

The new form-factor will be able to send and receive email, surf the Web using the Hot Java browser, and run Java applets. Finger-drawn characters would be recognizable as input. Mobile access will take place at a rate of 32 kbps, a little faster than today's standard PC-card equipped notebook computer.

The WebPanel will initially run on a 133-MHz MIPS processor and come with 32MB of main memory and 8MB of flash memory, which retains its contents even after the device is turned off. According to Nikkei, future versions might run on Sun Microsystems' forthcoming Java chip, which would provide more processing power.