Flipstart compact PC goes on sale

  • Seattle (WA) – More than two years after the launch of what was perceived as its main competitor, Flipstart today launched its first ultra-compact PC. Compared to the OQO model 02, the Flipstart is slightly larger, comes with a complete feature set and offers some innovative approaches for data input, but has less horsepower and a high price.

    Ultra compact PCs such as the OQO are intriguing computing devices that spark emotions but so far have failed to attract the interest of the mass market. The
    is going a more stylish route than its predecessor and is available for less money in base versions. The Flipstart PC, in some way, appears to be OQO model 01 all over again: A package of nice features that costs more than two decent notebook PCs (or two UMPCs.)

    The Flipstart PC is slightly larger than the OQO, but smaller than your average UMPC. It folds open and reveals an innovative keyboard that makes it easier for users to use shortcuts or key combinations – for example, CTRL+ALT+DEL is combined into one key. The 1.5 pound system integrates a 5.6” 1024x600 pixel LCD, which is fed by an Intel integrated graphics chipset and a Pentium M ULV 1.1 GHz processor. There’s 512 MB of main memory, an internal VGA camera and a 30 GB hard drive for storing data.

    Perhaps most noteworthy is EVDO Rev A wireless broadband hardware that comes standard with the Flipstart, as well as a Sideshow-like LCD that is integrated in the lid of the computer. The 1.8” LCD has a 220x176 pixel resolution (equivalent to an average cellphone screen) and displays Microsoft Outlook content, such as emails, calendar and contacts.

    Flipstart offers the device in a configuration with Windows XP Pro or Vista Business for $2000. The only extras available are a secondary battery for $150 and an auto/airplane adapter for $150.

    The low production volume of the Flipstart, which by the way was founded and funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, may justify the high price, but a $2000 price tag was one of the key reasons that kept the OQO from taking off so far. From our first look at the Flipstart at the CTIA tradeshow , we felt that $1500 may be a more attractive price point for the device – which is also the mark where OQO positioned its base model 02. And even at $1500, it may be a tough sell against the second generation of UMPCs that is expected to surface this year.