A Taiwanese government-backed consortium has developed a powerful handheld PC that uses a WiMax wireless broadband connection to access the web.

The MTube, as the device is called, carries a 1GHz microprocessor made by Via Technologies, an x86-based processor able to use software meant for PCs. But the MTube weighs only 150 grams and has a 2.8-inch screen, so it's small enough to fit in person's pocket. It can store 8GB of songs, photos and other data and runs on a Linux OS.

MTube also works with Wi-Fi connections, but does not work on 3G mobile telecommunications networks, according to Shen Shu-heng, an official at Taiwan's Institute for Information Industry (III), one of the groups responsible for the device.

Development of the MTube, which is made solely from parts manufactured in Taiwan, is aimed at promoting Taiwanese made goods, as well as developing more devices and applications for WiMax wireless Internet broadband services, Shen said.

Taiwan is positioning itself to be one of the fastest adopters of WiMax connectivity outside of North America through its MTube initiative. Officials see the technology as a good way to spread broadband Internet access throughout the island, which includes remote mountain villages and sparsely populated outlying islands.

Last month, the Taiwan government added several multinationals to a growing list of WiMax wireless broadband technology partners, including Alcatel-Lucent, Motorola, Nokia Siemens Networks and Sprint Nextel. The partnerships are intended to encourage foreign companies to build WiMax research and development centers in Taiwan and look to Taiwanese companies for parts and contract manufacturing work.

Intel was an early champion of WiMax as a replacement for the Wi-Fi wireless networking standard, used for Internet access in coffee shops, airports and other places in much of the developed world. The chip giant has already signed a similar agreement with Taiwan and is working with Taiwanese computer parts makers to ready the technology for inclusion in laptop PCs next year.

Taiwan's III worked with the Science and Technology Advisory Group, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and other government agencies to develop the MTube.