Blast from the past as Apricot returns

Apricot PicoBook Pro

Apricot, one of the most famous names in British computing history, has returned to the market, having disappeared at the end of the 20th century.

The company debuted its first new product in almost 10 years last night, a 8.9in netbook called the PicoBook Pro.

For photos of the PicoBook Pro, click here.

The device sports a 1024x600 display, a 60GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM, integrated 802.11 a, b and g Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a 1.3 megapixel web cam. At the centre, lies a VIA C7-M 1.2GHz x86 compatible processor.

Apricot is claiming a battery life of up to four hours with a standard battery along with a boot time of less than 30 seconds.

The PicoBook will ship in two versions, a 279 inc VAT model pre-installed with Suse Linux, and a 329 inc VAT model running Windows XP Home. Hardware is the same across both versions.

The company, founded in 1965 as ACT, became Apricot Computers in the early 1980s and set the standard for innovation, development and manufacturing of computers in the UK at sites in Birmingham and Scotland. It was bought in the early 1990s by Mitsubishi, which enjoyed some success with the brand in the UK and Japan before eventually winding down the business in late 1999.

"We are very excited about the launch of the PicoBook," Apricot chief executive Shahid Sultan told IT PRO. "The product delivers a great deal of functionality and value for money in the netbook market."

Our first impressions of the Picobook Pro are positive, with a sturdy plastic design, 270 degree screen hinge, a hard-wearing track pad and a decent size keyboard. The demo unit we looked at ran Windows XP and in basic operation ran well with the VIA processor, displaying no obvious signs of sluggish application loading or switching.

We hope to bring you a full review of the PicoBook Pro in the coming weeks.