Microsoft revealed yesterday that it will finalize the Windows Powered Smart Displays (formerly code-named Mira) software this week, and partners will deliver the first-generation hardware January 8. Beginning today, customers interested in buying Windows Powered Smart Displays can preorder units from major online retailers such as Amazon.com or Buy.com, the company says. In the United States, customers can preorder ViewSonic devices in both 10" and 15" versions. Elsewhere, Fujitsu, NEC, and Philips will sell Windows Powered Smart Displays. Dell will begin selling ViewSonic Windows Powered Smart Displays in the coming weeks.
First introduced in January 2002 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Windows Powered Smart Displays let users access their PCs using remote, wireless-enabled displays. The products are based on Windows CE .NET, Wi-Fi, and Microsoft's Remote Desktop technology. Because Remote Desktop requires Windows XP Professional Edition, all Smart Displays will ship with a copy of that software. ViewSonic's devices, which include wireless-networking adapters, give consumers everything they need right out of the box.
When I tested the final ViewSonic hardware yesterday, I found performance acceptable but a bit slow. The 10" model weighs about 3 pounds and features rubber grips that make it easier to hold, buttons that emulate the mouse buttons, a cursor for using the mouse pointer without the stylus, and other ease-of-use features. Windows Powered Smart Displays will cost about $1000 to $1300, depending on the model and size.