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Intel and Nokia’s announcement this week of a long-term technology partnership around mobile devices of the future was long on vision and short on the product details that everyone wanted to hear.

Intel and Nokia offered nothing in the form of product direction or timelines beyond a general statement of targeting devices that go beyond today’s smartphones, netbooks and notebooks. The lack of information disappointed many.  

But there are plenty of clues as to the direction the two companies may want to take their mobile Internet device of the future.

Intel’s Anand Chandrasekher, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Ultra Mobile group, has previously said that the fullness of the Internet on mobile devices would only be realized when users could download YouTube-type content onto their devices.

Chandrasekher described a device at the Intel Developers Forum in September 2006 that was bigger than a smartphone and smaller than a laptop. He described it as being the size of those portable DVD players that people take on planes with them. 

The device did not include a telephone, and the screen could not be smaller than five inches. He said success in the space would require a confluence of several factors, including broadband Internet—perhaps delivered via WiMax—plus advances in the user interface and keyboard interface.

Many aspects of that description are very similar to some secret prototypes that some key players in the mobile space have seen from unnamed vendors.

While declining to name specific vendors, “I’ve seen some prototypes in between size of laptop and handheld device,” says Chuck Dietrich, vice president of mobile at  That form factor “gives you more screen real estate and [can offer] a lot of features which you’d never need on laptop.” For example, he says, such a device could include GPS functionality and a video camera that lets users upload video on the fly.

Doctors using such a device could take a photo of a patient’s injury and send it up to Web services, he says.

“I’m really excited,” he says. “I think we will see a further blend of devices that will be somewhere between a smartphone and a laptop.”  And when will we see it?

“Christmas is always a good time for these devices to come.”