Panasonic's just kicked out several new models of notebook computers. Among them is a 960g model that, it claims, is the world's lightest notebook PC that carries a 10.4in screen.

R1 series machines measure 240x183x37.2mm, weigh 960g and have a battery life of up to six hours. The A3 series units are equipped with a larger than normal 16mm-diameter optical trackball, which should allow for easier operation on the move. The A3 is slightly larger than the R1, and 50 percent heavier.

Both the R1 and the A3 can, allegedly, withstand being dropped from a height of around 30cm, but we wouldn't advise testing this claim.

Chip-wise there's a Mobile Pentium III 700MHz processor, 128MB of SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM), a fast ethernet interface and a SD (Secure Digital) Card flash memory slot.

The R1 gets a 20GB hard disk with the A3 getting a fatter 30GB unit. Screen sizes are 10.4in and 11.3in respectively.

March is the release month for both series in Japan, with European rollout still to be announced.