Chinese PC vendor Tsinghua Tongfang has announced its new S1 iMini series, a family of netbooks with 10.2in screens that have a Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic OS or a Linux OS.

The devices also carry 1.6GHz Via C7-M microprocessors, an important design win for Via Technologies. The company has had a tough time battling Intel for market share in the mini-laptop, or netbook segment.

Intel launched the Atom microprocessor earlier this year, scooping up several major design wins, including in Asus's Eee PC 1000, 1000H and 901, Acer's Aspire one, Lenovo's S-series netbooks, and MSI's Wind.

Via's biggest customer for netbook microprocessors so far is HP, with its Mini-Note.

But at a cost of 3998 Chinese yuan (£290), Tsinghua Tongfang's new netbook appears pricey for the Chinese market.

The specifications of the device are similar to most netbooks, a low-power microprocessor, 1GB of DRAM, an 80GB hard disk drive, 1.3-megapixel webcam and either a 3-cell or 6-cell battery.

It is a bit different in offering the Vista OS, although HP's Mini-Note does as well, and Tsinghua's includes a few extra features such as a business card manager, MP3 digital music player, digital photo frame and DVD playback functionality.

Tsinghua Tongfang is positioning the netbook to compete as a standard laptop, according to Li Jianhang, vice president and general manager of the company's computer group.

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