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Smart Displays On The Way From Philips, ViewSonic

ViewSonic and Philips last week demonstrated the first in a new class of 802.11b wireless flat-panel displays being touted as a breakthrough as significant as mobile telephones.

The new Smart Displays, which are expected to be formally launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, could give solution providers new opportunities in the SOHO market and in vertical markets such as health care. The panels use the same handwriting-recognition technology as the new Tablet PCs, which could allow doctors to take notes digitally while roaming through a hospital, as one example.

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The Philips and ViewSonic Smart Displays, which require Windows XP Professional and come with an XP Professional upgrade, were touted by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates during his Comdex keynote.

Dan Coffman, senior product manager for ViewSonic's advanced technology group, mobile and wireless division, said the Smart Displays provide more mobility and freedom to home and business users. "You are no longer tethered to a desk," he said.

"This could do for monitors what cordless phones did for telephones," said Michael Gay, director of marketing for PC peripherals at Philips.

Leonard DiCostanzo, senior vice president of business development at Emtec, a solution provider in Cranford, N.J., said the penetration rate for the displays in some small businesses could be as high as 20 percent. "Mobility is what technology should be all about going forward," he said.

ViewSonic's 15.1-inch Airpanel V150 flat screen has a suggested retail price of $1,299;, and the Airpanel V110 10.4-inch flat screen has a suggested retail price of $999. Both are slated to be available from Ingram Micro, Tech Data and Synnex Information Technologies in January and are expected to operate at a range of 100 to 150 feet.

Philips' 150DM 15-inch 802.11b wireless display is slated to ship in February. Pricing was unavailable.

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