Microsoft this week unveiled more details about the European availability of its Windows-powered smart displays, demonstrated by chairman Bill Gates at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas last year.
The smart displays are portable slate-like touch screen intelligent monitors, wirelessly connected to the PC 'base station'.
They allow users to surf the internet, send email and access applications from any room in the house.
The displays differ from Tablet PCs, which have their own hard drive, in that they do not store anything locally but are able to access the PC via an integrated 802.11b wireless receiver.
The Viewsonic Airpanel V110 and V150 are now available to US customers, and both Philips and Viewsonic are set to release smart displays for the European market in the first quarter of 2003, according to Microsoft.
Pricing is not yet available for the European launch, but the Viewsonic V110 and V150 are available in the US at $999 (£625) and $1,299 (£812) respectively.
Although Microsoft would not reveal target figures for take-up, a spokesperson confirmed that the smart displays are aimed at the home user.
Nancy Nemes, Microsoft's European product manager for Windows-powered smart displays, said they would initially appeal to technology super-users: "This is a product aimed solely at the domestic market.
"The benefits of being able to access the PC from anywhere in the home at any time, as opposed to being tied to a desk, resonate particularly well with domestic audiences.
James Governor, industry analyst at RedMonk, suggested that, although the technology is useful for consumers and corporates, both will struggle to find the money for the displays in the current environment.
"Definitely if you look at large enterprises they are interested, but whether they have the budgets to invest is a different matter," he said. "There is loads of cool stuff out there but no-one is buying it."
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