Intel joins Giga-byte, Chunghwa to launch Linux MID

Taiwan's Giga-byte will launch in Taiwan in December one of the first mobile Internet devices based on the 800MHz version of Intel's Atom, it said Monday.

Gigabyte M528

Gigabyte M528

Intel joined Taiwanese mobile phone service provider Chunghwa Telecom to launch Giga-byte Technology's M528 mobile Internet device on Monday in Taipei.

Chunghwa will begin offering the small, handheld device to consumers in December for NT$12,900 (US$386) with a 2-year service package, the companies said. The devices will cost NT$19,500 without a service plan.

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

The device, which runs a Linux OS, sports a 4.8-inch touchscreen, QWERTY keypad and 4G byte solid state drive (SSD), is just one of a few launched so far with an 800Mhz Intel Atom Z500 microprocessor inside.

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

BenQ, another Taiwanese electronics maker, has also announced a mobile Internet device based on the 800MHz 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 HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) wireless connections via Chunghwa's mobile phone network.

For portability, it weighs 340 grams and is 152 millimeters by 80mm by 22.5mm.

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

The MID (mobile Internet device) market is relatively new. Intel and other companies have promoted MIDs as an product area between a smartphone and a netbook, with a screen larger than most smartphones and with greater computing capability. The biggest mobile phone screens, even when their entire face is a touchscreen, don't go much larger than the iPhone 3G's 3.5-inch screen, while netbook screens start at 7-inch sizes.

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

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