Hitachi launches 802.11a desktop PCs

Hitachi Ltd. launched a range of desktop computers on Monday with internal wireless LAN modems that support the IEEE 802.11a standard, the company said, claiming a world first for such products.

The 802.11a standard supports data transmission at rates up to 54Mbps and makes use of spectrum in the 5GHz band, a step up in both speed and frequency from the more common 802.11b standard that supports up to 11Mbps transmission at 2.4GHz.

Among a range of 14 desktop and notebook machines the Tokyo company announced on Monday, three of the desktop models come with 802.11a support built in. They differ in the processor, which is either a 2.4GHz or 2GHz Pentium 4 or a 1.7GHz Celeron, and each has 128MB of memory and a 40GB hard disk drive. Users have the option of a 15-inch or 17-inch XGA resolution TFT (thin film transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor and prices range from US$2,026 to US$1,553).

The machines also include support for USB 2.0, the latest version of the USB (Universal Serial Bus) standard that supports data transmission at 480Mbps per second. This is some 40 times faster than the first version of USB.

Interoperability testing of devices based on the 802.11a system is just beginning and, as a result, devices based on it are expected to become more and more common. Hitachi said the products announced Monday have not undergone interoperability testing, although the controller chip has passed WiFi Alliance tests.

Hitachi’s announcement comes on the same day that Toshiba Corp. is announcing plans to put 802.11a modems inside some of its notebook computers due out in December.