StrongARM speed captured on the television screen

The Network Computer, derided by the big players last year, is being embraced as a robust alternative to the PC. Tony Durham and Tim Greenhalgh explore its rise

Cambridge-based Acorn Computer recently launched coNCord, its next generation, ultra-fast network computer.

Acorn believes the device's main strengths are the ability to display on standard televisions and fast Java execution. The company believes the device could have cost-effective uses on further education and higher education networks and is setting up a trial with an as yet unnamed Scottish university.

CoNCord is based on the new Digital SA110 StrongARM processor with a 233 MHz clock speed and is the next generation of Acorn's "TVCentric" NC technology.

It directly drives a television or monitor and features include: infra-red keyboard support, smart card interface and vertical filtering of the display image to reduce interlace flicker.

CoNCord was designed by the same engineering team as Acorn's original NC, which was later licensed to Oracle.

Apple Computer, meanwhile, which has an education partnership with Acorn, have been slow to respond publicly to the challenge of the new NC paradigm.

However, NC advocate and Oracle head Larry Ellison has recently joined the Apple board. Rhapsody, the next-generation Apple operating system, is now being repackaged as a high-end cross-platform server solution.

Apple watchers believe the company may be ready to add an NC client element to the package, but the company could not comment on rumours of an Apple NC announcement this week.

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