Hitachi has unveiled a tablet internet appliance based on Transmeta's low power Crusoe chip and the Linux operating system and featuring wireless networking.

The Flora-ie 55mi has at its heart a Crusoe TM3200 processor running at 400MHz and the Midori Linux operating system. A companion keyboard and mouse are available, although the device can also be controlled via the touch-sensitive 10.4in TFT LCD screen.

As with other recently released Asian web appliances such as LG's Digital iPad, the Flora has a built-in modem that supports the IEEE 802.11b wireless networking standard.

This gives transfer speeds of up to 11Mbps (megabits per second), although no base station is provided. Buyers would also have to splash out on a 802.11b home networking system or modem adapter with wireless support to connect to the internet.

Other features of the machine, which Hitachi is promoting as something that can be carried around Star Trek fashion, include 64MB (expandable to 192MB) and Compact Flash and PC Card slots. The machines will be built to order and Hitachi quotes a basic price around £850. Exactly when the Flora will be out in the UK is unknown.

Hitachi puts battery life, something very important for portable machines like the new Flora-ie, at about three hours on a standard battery and six hours on an extended life battery.

Low-power microprocessors, such as Crusoe or one of several competitors, combined with lightweight operating systems, such as Linux or Windows CE, are becoming ever more popular with tablet internet appliance designers.