CES: Samsung chief executive unveils home gadgets

Korean company shows off wireless handheld, Home Media Center

Samsung chief executive Daeje Chin unveiled several new products in Las Vegas on Tuesday, as he spoke of the convergence of digital content and consumer electronics.

During his keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show, the Korean executive showed off the Nexio S150 wireless handheld PC. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates had briefly demonstrated the handheld device the night before during his own keynote speech.

The Nexio is a wireless gadget that can connect to the Internet through a built-in CDMA2000 module. The device will run the Windows CE operating system and come with a spreadsheet application, PocketWord and email capabilities. The handheld computer will feature a 5.1-inch liquid-crystal display with a resolution of 800 pixels by 480 pixels. The Nexio is available in Korea; the company is looking to bring it to the United States this year.

The Nexio is reminiscent of the Tablet PC idea that Microsoft and PC makers have been promoting at trade shows over the last couple of years, including at Comdex in November.

Chin also unveiled the Home Media Center, one of the first products based on the Freestyle extension to the Windows XP operating system that Gates announced Monday evening. "This is the idea of using a PC without sitting down at a keyboard," Gates said Monday. "Wherever you are, the idea of remote interactivity comes with Windows."

Freestyle includes applications for DVD and digital-music playback and for processing and recording live television, allowing the PC to become an entertainment command centre and a potential rival to digital video recorders from companies such as TiVo and Sonicblue.

Home Media Center and Freestyle are part of a growing trend at this year's CES to centralise digital content at home. Moxi Digital, for example, announced its Linux-powered home entertainment platform Monday. Hewlett-Packard, NEC and Compaq Computer are working on similar entertainment-centric PCs.

Chin got help unveiling products on stage from Richard Karn, an actor on the TV show "Home Improvement."

Chin also demonstrated a 63-inch TV with a plasma display and introduced a 40-inch TV with a liquid-crystal display.

Samsung has been growing rapidly over the past 10 years, with revenue jumping from $10bn (£7bn) in 1991 to $33bn in 2000, according to Chin. However, the recent drops in memory chip prices have left the company looking for high-growth markets, such as consumer electronics, where Chin believes Samsung can become a major player in the near future.

"Samsung is well positioned to accelerate the digital convergence revolution into our business core competencies, which includes consumer electronics, computers, communications and core components," he said.

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