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Corel previews multimedia NC

Originally supposed to ship in the first quarter of 1997, the machine is now scheduled to ship in the first quarter of next year.

Corel (COSFF) hardware spin-off Corel Computer today previewed its long-awaited Video Network Computer.

Originally supposed to ship in the first quarter of 1997, the computer is now scheduled to ship in the first quarter of next year.

The network computer, or NC, is a stripped-down computing device that mainly functions as a conduit to a corporate network. It's touted as a less-expensive and easier-to-maintain alternative to the personal computer and a more functional replacement for terminals. Corel's NC will also offer video capabilities.

The computer runs on a Digital Equipment's StrongARM SA-110 microprocessor, a chip designed to offer high processing speeds and handle multimedia functions in devices smaller than the PC.

The computer's operating system is based on Linux, a Unix-based operating system widely and freely available over the Internet. The bundled communications suite, including audio/video, email, Web-browsing, and word-processing software, is Java-based.

While software, user documents, and user profiles are stored on a central server, a cacheing system enables users to continue to work when their computers are disconnected from the server. The 500MB persistent cache memory also helps minimize network traffic.

The small machine, roughly 9 1/2 by 6 3/8 by 2 inches, comes with multimedia features including full in/out stereo, a microphone and speaker, a jack for an analog phone, an IP phone, and videoconferencing capability.

Pricing was not disclosed.