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Intel unveils $400 mobile PC for developing nations

AUSTIN, Texas -- The head of the world's largest chip maker yesterday unveiled a mobile personal computer designed to provide affordable collaborative learning environments for teachers and students around the world.

Intel Corp. chief executive Paul Otellini said the $400 machines -- named ''Eduwise" -- will feature built-in wireless and will run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows or the Linux operating system.

''What we want to do is accelerate to uncompromised technology for everyone in the world," Otellini said during a demonstration at the World Congress on Information Technology in Austin. ''No one wants to cross the digital divide with yesterday's technology."

The flip-open Eduwise computer includes a handle, light blue accents, and snaps shut like a purse. Special software allows students in a classroom to view presentations, take tests, and interact individually with their teachers using a built-in wireless connection.

The cheaper PCs are part of a $1 billion investment by Intel over the next five years to put computers in schools, cafes, and other public spots in developing countries, Otellini said.

The Eduwise machine was designed by Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel but will be built by its computer-making customers. Otellini said the devices should be available next year.

Many high-tech companies, including Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Microsoft, have disclosed similar initiatives in an effort to close the digital divide between developed and developing nations.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Nicholas Negroponte's nonprofit One Laptop Per Child association hopes to begin providing $100 laptops to millions of children in China, India, Egypt, Brazil, Thailand, Nigeria, and Argentina by early 2007.

Tentative designs call for a machine that uses one-tenth of the power of conventional laptops, a 7-inch screen, and Linux. The project's partners include Google Inc. and AMD.

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