Microsoft plans to start shipping its MSN Web companion, codenamed Mariner, by the middle of next year.
The Mariner has been developed as a cheap and efficient way for consumers to get online, and send and receive email. It will run on Microsoft's Windows CE operating system and be sold by companies including Acer, Philips Electronics and Thomson Consumer Electronics.
The A4 pad size device is likely to use a keyboard, although sources claim Microsoft has been investigating voice recognition. It will jump users straight to the Microsoft MSN site.
Although pricing has not yet been released, industry watchers are expecting it to be around the $200 mark.
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