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Tadpole's Chance to SPARCLE with Laptop

Forget your P4s and your Athlons, Tadpole Computer is relying on SPARC chips to sell its latest line of notebooks.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based hardware firm Monday unveiled a new entry-level 64-bit laptop called "SPARCLE" running with up to 650 MHz processor speed, 2GB of RAM, 80GB hard drive and weigh less than 7 pounds.

With a starting price of $2,995, the company says the notebook also comes with good battery life, 15"SXGA+ TFT screen, and broad peripheral support. Plus, Tadpole claims its new SPARCLE is the first 64-bit laptop to feature fully integrated 802.11b Wi-Fi .

"The industry has been asking for greater value in an enterprise-class notebook solution that can run 64-bit applications, and only Tadpole has delivered on this," Tadpole president and CEO Mark Johnston said in a statement.

The company says its latest notebooks are ideal for software engineers, field engineers and technical consultants who are telecommuting or working on the road. Tadpole says field sales and support personnel might also benefit from SPARCLE with the ability to conduct demos, training and support at remote locations.

"In the 64-bit technical computing market there is a need for the same portable productivity that users in the PC world enjoy," said Gartner Dataquest Principal Analyst Anthony Kros. "Engineers have a need for notebooks that allow them to telecommute or work on the road using their native development environments, and sales and support staff have a need for notebook solutions that help them demonstrate and administer enterprise-class applications at remote sites".

Tadpole was one of the first Silicon Valley companies to offer 64-bit notebooks and it has a large base of 64-bit portable systems. All of the company's products are also Sun Microsystems SPARC binary compatible, such as its SPARCbook, UltraBookIIi and portable VoyagerIIi server. Prior to the new SPARCLE notebooks, the company's least expensive SPARC-based offering -- the SPARCbook 5000 -- cost about $6,000.

"Based on 20 years of experience in the 64-bit UNIX market, we've developed a notebook computer that gives users the opportunity to experience 64-bit computing on-the-go, at an unprecedented sub-$3,000 price. We're thrilled to be able to deliver the productivity-enhancing benefits of 64-bit computing to our existing customers, and to a whole new breed of users, wherever they're working," Johnston said.

In addition to SPARC-based systems, Tadpole also serves up UNIX notebooks, portable servers and slim form factor rackmount servers.

Once the hardware division of U.K.-based Tadpole Technology, the concern recently completed a management buyout from its former parent.