RealTime IT News

Samsung Looks for Middle Ground in Handheld Market

NEW YORK -- With great fanfare and on the heels of major product forays by market-leader Palm Computing, Samsung Electronics Tuesday evening unveiled its own vision of how the handheld devices market has evolved, introducing a Wi-Fi-enabled personal data assistant (PDA) that offers the largest screen resolution available on the market.

With the NEXiO, Samsung is targeting the mobile professionals who needs to take their data with them or the enterprises that are looking to mobilize their workforces. For example, in its sales approach, Samsung is focusing on the financial and healthcare/medical fields as well as the area of salesforce automation.

But Samsung is also trying to capitalize on an emerging market brought on by individuals who are tired of lugging around 5- to 10-pound notebooks but looking for more out of their PDAs. And it began its product development at the point at which everyone interacts with their hardware -- the display. When combined with the full Windows CE OS, NEXiO's 5-inch TFT LCD display offers 800 x 480 resolution giving users the same Windows experience as a desktop. Conventional PDAs on the market based on the stripped-down Pocket PC platform only have resolutions of approximately 320 x 240.

"We think there's a space between where the PDA is and where the notebook is," said David Nichols, director of product marketing at Irvine, Calif.-based Samsung Electronics America. "I think a tablet is going to fill some of that but this has much greater attributes."

NEXiO has a 400 MHz Intel processor and built-in 802.11b support making its speed and connectivity on par with Toshiba's E740, which has the distinction of being the first PDA with native Wi-Fi capabilities. But with an estimated price of $749, the NEXiO is also approximately $200 more expensive putting it more in the price range of Compaq's iPAQ H3975.

Yet, both the Toshiba and iPAQ still only feature Pocket PC, which for example gives users a shrunken-down browser window. Samsung worked with Microsoft to give the NEXiO its own unique user interface for accessing full versions of Microsoft Outlook and Office. The device also includes a presentation viewer, which enables a traveling executive to attach NEXiO directly to an LCD projector through its ActiveSync port.

More importantly, the NEXiO is still cheaper than many notebooks on the market, giving the hybrid Samsung device a fighting chance in the crowded field.

"We can do everything that you want to do with your notebook when you're mobile," Nichols told internetnews.com.

In fact, in its search for partners, Samsung is hoping that developers will embrace the NEXiO for enterprise applications as large as SAP. Company officials hope to announce partnership details in October.

NEXiO comes with a Compact Flash slot for expandability and is equipped with an MP3 player. It features 128 megabits of SDRAM and 64 MB of flash memory. Other peripherals such as keyboards will be available.

The rollout is part of Samsung's overall "DigitAll Inspiration" campaign -- a new branding strategy that showcases a suite of new products that are designed to outline the Korean company's convergence strategy. The other devices include two Palm-OS based smart phones as well as an Internet-connected refrigerator that has a built-in detachable tablet computer with email and web-browser capabilities.

"We strive to build a brand as inspiring as the Guggenheim," Samsung Vice Chairman Jong Yong Yun said in a prepared statement. Samsung will roll out all its new products at the Guggenheim Museum here.

The NEXiO will be available in January.