NEC launches tough laptop PC

NEC will sell in January a tough laptop that can withstand water, dust and drops

NEC launched its latest laptop PC on Tuesday with a splash. A bottle of water was poured over the computer while it was operating to demonstrate its toughness to harsh environmental conditions.

The "Shield Pro" FC-N21S laptop is rated to IP54, an environmental protection rating developed by the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC). IP54 signifies that the machine is protected against ingress of dust at levels that would harm operation and also against splashes of water from all directions.

It can also be dropped from waist height onto a hard surface and survive, as NEC also demonstrated at a Tokyo news conference. NEC guarantees the machine will be safe when dropped as long as its a drop of fewer than 90 centimeters, the machine is switched off and the lid folded down.

The computer has a 12.1-inch touch panel LED-backlit screen and is a convertible-type laptop, which means the screen can be flipped around and folded down on the keyboard so that it resembles a tablet PC. At its heart is an Intel. Core Solo processor running at 1.2GHz. NEC looked at using a Core Duo processor but the desire to keep the PC fanless meant that it wasn't possible to use a more powerful chip because of the amounts of heat that it would generate.

Users can choose between a 60G-byte Serial ATA or 40G-byte Ultra ATA hard-disk drive. Users also get to choose between Windows XP Professional or Linux as the operating system.

The machine will go on sale in Japan in January for between YEN 250,000 and YEN 300,000 (US$2,765 and $3,315). NEC is still considering its international sales plans.

In March several new models will be launched including a laptop that can stand up to a wider range of temperatures than the standard model. It will be able to operate at between -20 degrees Celsius and 50 degrees Celsius. A model with an 8G-byte solid state disk made up of flash memory chips will also be available.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service

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