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Transmeta notches another for tablet

The chipmaker adds a U.K. company to its list of tablet PC customers, which already includes Hewlett-Packard.

Chipmaker Transmeta has found its latest tablet PC customer in the United Kingdom.

Viglen will use Transmeta's Crusoe processor in its new eXaro tablet PC, which is on sale now in the United Kingdom. A subsidiary of Learning Technology, Viglen sells PCs under its own brand name, as well as ones from Toshiba.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Transmeta, which pitches the Crusoe chip as an energy-efficient alternative to Intel processors, has several tablet PC customers, including Hewlett-Packard.

Tablet PCs, which use Microsoft's Windows XP Tablet PC Edition software, typically weigh 2.2 pounds to 4 pounds and feature low-power processors and 10.4-inch to 12.1-inch touch screens. They are designed to be portable so that workers can tote them throughout the day to notes in meetings and connect wirelessly to a network.

Sales of tablet PCs have been strong in Europe so far. A recent report by market researcher Context showed that Microsoft-based tablet PCs accounted for 1 percent of European notebooks during the fourth quarter. That's a fast start, considering the Nov. 7 launch date of the product, London-based Context said.

The eXaro tablet PC from Viglen, which is based in the London suburb of Alperton, incorporates Transmeta's 933MHz Crusoe TM5800 processor. The tablet also includes a 10.4-inch touch screen, 256MB of RAM, a 20GB hard drive and built-in 802.11b wireless. The machine sells for the equivalent of about $1,460, Transmeta said.

The tablet will find competition from HP--whose Compaq Evo Tablet PC TC1000 offers a 1GHz Crusoe chip--as well as similar models from Acer and Fujitsu-Siemens. Toshiba also sells a tablet PC, part of its Satellite notebook line.

Meanwhile, NEC's new 2.2 pound VersaPro tablet PC will go on sale in Europe later this quarter. NEC announced earlier this week that the tablet, previously only available in Japan, is now shipping in North America as the Versa LitePad.