Fujitsu is to become the third major PC maker to sell a laptop that uses flash memory in place of the traditional hard disk.

The company will offer a 16GB or 32GB flash memory disk as an option with new B-series machines due on sale in Japan later this month and Q-series machines that will be available from early November. Choosing the 16GB version will add ¥80,000 (£360) to the price of the computer while the 32GB model will add ¥160,000 (£720).

The disks are made by Samsung and can already be found in two Samsung machines, the Q30 laptop Q1-SSD ultra-mobile PC. Both machines went on sale in South Korea earlier this year. In Japan, Sony is also offering a version of its small-size UX90 portable PC with 16GB of flash in place of a hard-disk drive.

The flash disk has several advantages over a conventional hard-disk drive, including a slight weight reduction and longer battery life because flash memory uses less power. Fujitsu said the B-series machine will run an extra 15 minutes and the Q-series will run an extra 30 minutes on flash disk compared to hard-disk drive.

Most noticeable to the user will be faster startup. Because data can be accessed from the flash memory much faster than a hard-disk drive, the B-series machine takes about 19 seconds to boot up Windows XP Home Edition compared to 32 seconds for a hard-disk drive version of the same machine.

The company is also offering a hard-disk drive that automatically encrypts data as an option with the B-series machines. The drive, produced by Seagate, uses hardware to encrypt all data being written on the drive and decrypt data as it is read. It will add ¥15,000 (£68) to the price of the computers.

Fujitsu also unveiled a new convertible machine running Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005. The company has been a keen supporter of Microsoft's Tablet PC push and the FMV-P8230 will join its existing line-up in mid-November. The computer has an 8.9in XGA resolution (1,280 pixels by 768 pixels) screen and an Intel Core Solo processor. It will cost ¥240,000 (£1,080).

Fujitsu said plans to sell the computers in the UK are under consideration.