If you’ve ever wished you
could slip your laptop into your pocket at day’s end, the
engineers at Seattle startup Vulcan would like a word with you.
The design firm, founded by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, has
crafted an unusual miniature computer called FlipStart, which
was set to ship in late March.
For $2,000, you can carry full-blown Windows Vista on a
computer about the size of a Tolstoy novel. Compared with
RIM’s BlackBerry or Palm’s Treo, FlipStart has
packed a lot of technology into a small package. But a high
price and a slow chip may consign the FlipStart to a market
niche or worse—a novelty.
FlipStart runs Windows with an Intel 1.1GHz Pentium M
processor and a 30GB hard drive, packed into a 1.75-pound
brick. Users get a qwerty keypad and 5.6-inch display, as well
as digital camera and stereo speakers. “Flip the lid and
there’s your office—in a clamshell,” the
We’ve heard this song before, and nobody has written
it quite right yet for mainstream users. FlipStart and
OQO’s Model 02 handheld fall into Gartner’s
“one-kilogram wasteland,” a designation for
computers weighing between one pound and one kilogram (2.2
pounds), says principal analyst Todd Kort.
FlipStart will be stuck in small market niches alongside
Samsung’s ultramobile PC and Sony’s UX “micro
PC” until designers improve its heat, chip, battery and
price, he says. “There are not many people or enterprises
that are willing to spend that much when they can get a much
more powerful notebook computer with full keyboard and large
display for much less money,” Kort says.