At this week's CeBIT trade fair, Philips and Tatung are showing off some of the first products based on the Mira tablet device, first promoted by Microsoft at last year's Consumer Electronics Show. Mira is designed to act as an ordinary PC flat-panel monitor, but is removable, allowing the PC to be accessed from around the house.
The 10.4-inch portable smart display unveiled by Philips comes with a wireless keyboard that can be magnetically attached to the Mira monitor.
Ballmer also showed off a 'ruggedised' Mira device created by Tatung. This version has been designed to be resistant to accidents such as coffee spills.
Microsoft's vision is that businesspeople will use Mira to work from the sofa, even if their PC is in the next room, and that children will be able to take the Mira device to their bedrooms to listen to music. Mira devices are expected to ship by the end of 2002.
The technology demonstrated at CeBIT does not allow more than one Mira device to be connected to the same PC, but Ballmer promised -- possibly to the surprise of his developers -- this feature would be added soon. "The concept doesn't make sense otherwise, so that will be a version two feature. Well, it will be now."
Final pricing hasn't yet been announced for any Mira products, but the indication is that larger models may be quite expensive. "The main cost is the LCD screen, so the retail price will depend how large the display is. We'd expect prices to start at around $500 (about £350)," said a Microsoft executive.
LG is developing a 15-inch Mira device, while Tatung has said it is concentrating on 8-inch and 10-inch products.
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