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Clarion announces Windows CE-based car PC

Japan's Clarion has unveiled an in-car computer at the World PC Expo in Tokyo this week, and said it planned to put the device on domestic sale in December.

The computer, which is based on Microsoft's Windows CE for Automotive operating system, is one of the most feature-packed, in-car electronics systems yet seen in Japan - a country where dashboard navigation, television and DVD video functions can be found in many cars.

Clarion's Car Digital Assistant (Cadias) offers all of these functions and other basic systems such as an AM/FM radio, a CD player, MP3 and WMA digital audio players and plus a number of communications options.

E-mail and Internet access are both possible through the system once a network connection is present. This can be done in several ways: either through a cable to a mobile phone via a USB connection to advanced handsets such as those for NTT DoCoMo's third-generation mobile service, or via a communications card or modem plugged into a PC card slot on the front of the Cadias.

Other features on the main menu include a scheduler and address book. The system has a 17.5cm TFT LCD panel that includes a touch panel for operation. A remote control is also included, allowing the system to be navigated from the back seat.

Technical specifications include a RISC (reduced instruction set computer) microprocessor running at 166MHz and 64Mbytes of memory. An additional 8Mbytes of video memory is also built in.

Clarion intends to add support for entertainment-related features such as digital TV and direct-to-car satellite broadcasting.

The Cadias will go on sale in Japan on 1 December, costing ¥338,000 (£1,745). At that price, it is around twice as expensive as many mass-market car navigation systems and around the same price as Pioneer's hard disk drive-equipped Cyber Navi system.

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