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Intel joins Giga-byte; Chunghwa to launch Linux mobile device

The M528 mobile Internet device falls somewhere between a smart phone and a netbook

By Dan Nystedt
November 24, 2008 12:00 PM ET

IDG News Service - TAIPEI -- Intel Corp. joined Taiwanese mobile phone service provider Chunghwa Telecom to launch Giga-byte Technology Co.'s M528 mobile Internet device today.

Chunghwa will begin offering the handheld device to consumers in December for $386 if they sign up for a two-year service package, the companies said. The device will cost $584 without a service plan.

The first time that users will be able to get their hands on an M528 is Dec. 6 at an electronics show in Taipei. The device will be sold in Chunghwa stores throughout Taiwan starting Dec. 22, the company said.

The device, which runs a Linux operating system, sports a 4.8-in. touch screen, QWERTY keypad and 4GB solid-state drive, is one of a few launched so far with an 800-MHz Intel Atom Z500 microprocessor inside.

"The MID [mobile Internet device] market is relatively new. We spent 10 months developing this product," said Ma Meng-ming, president of Giga-byte, speaking at a press conference.

BenQ, another Taiwanese electronics maker, has also announced a mobile Internet device based on the 800-MHz Atom, the S6.

Chunghwa hopes to lure people to the M528 with promises of high-speed wireless Internet connectivity in their pockets. The M528 comes with built-in Wi-Fi 802.11b/g wireless as well as a 3.5G card for High Speed Packet Access wireless connections via Chunghwa's mobile phone network.

For portability, it weighs 11.9 oz. and is about 6 in. by 3 in. by .8 in. in size.

The M528 will face tough competition when it hits the Taiwan market next month. Chunghwa plans to launch the iPhone 3G in December as well, and several Taiwanese companies also market netbooks that can access mobile phone networks for wireless Internet surfing.

The MID market is relatively new. Intel and other companies have promoted MIDs as a product area between a smart phone and a netbook, with a screen larger than that of most smart phones and with greater computing capability. The biggest mobile phone screens, even for devices whose entire face is a touch screen, don't get much larger than the iPhone 3G's at 3.5 in., while netbook screens start at 7 in.

The M528 comes with a 3-megapixel autofocus camera, a 300k webcam for video chat, and slots for data cards, an earphone and USB. The device can transfer files wirelessly via Bluetooth 2.0.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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