Microsoft, Samsung Team on Low-Cost Handhelds

The Redmond, Wash., software giant has teamed up with Samsung to develop inexpensive handheld computers based on Microsoft's Pocket PC OS.

Microsoft Corp. has two new mobile hardware partnerships, one aimed at cost-conscious corporate customers and the other at cutting-edge consumers.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant has teamed up with Samsung Semiconductor Inc. to develop a design for inexpensive handheld computers based on Microsofts Pocket PC operating system, officials said this week.

Devices based on the design will include Samsungs ARM3-based S3C2410 application processor running at 200MHz, a 3.5-inch grayscale or color display, multimedia capabilities, and SD and SDIO expansion slots.

Palm Inc. traditionally has owned the market for low-cost handheld devices, and some customers say that they went with Palm primarily for the price.

"It seems that Pocket PC only runs on the higher-end devices," said Vincent Bray, a strategic research manager at Toyota Financial Services, a division of Toyota Motor Corp. in Torrance, Calif., who carries a Palm. "Im not going to pay extra for extra features I dont need, but if the price is right I might switch [to Pocket PC.]"

Officials at Samsung in San Jose, Calif., said that the target price for the device is less than $200, but licensees have yet to be announced.

Meanwhile, Viewsonic Corp. this week announced that the company has developed a wireless monitor using Microsofts "Smart Display" technology,

Previously known under its code-name, "Mira," the idea behind a Smart Display monitor is that it can communicate with a PC via an 802.11b wireless connection.

Users can surf the Web and navigate the computer with a stylus using the monitors touch screen, but it should not be confused with the more complex Tablet PC operating system, which Microsoft announced the previous week.

"Our goal is to extend the computing experience in the home," said Megan Kidd, product manager in the Embedded and Appliance Platforms group at Microsoft.

ViewSonics Smart Display comes in two sizes: the Airpanel V110 measures 10.4 inches and will sell for $999, while the Airpanel V150 measures 15 inches and will sell for $1,299.

The two displays will be available in the first quarter of next year. Microsoft officials said a handful of other licensees plan to launch Smart Displays in the first quarter as well.