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Samsung plans cell phone-TV combo

The electronics company will show off what it says is the world's first mobile phone with a built-in TV, early next year in Korea.

Samsung may have an answer to the perennial question, "What will they think of next?"--a cell phone with a built-in TV.

Samsung Electronics will show off what the company says is the world's first mobile phone with a built-in TV early next year in Korea. The SCH-M220 TV, as it is called, combines a tiny, low-power TV receiver with a 1.8-inch-high screen into a standard flip phone. A single antenna will receive both television signals and cellular transmissions, the company said.

Engineering work on the project is largely complete and it will go on sale in Korea early next year, the company said in a statement.

The combo device is one of a series of futuristic cell phones coming from Samsung. Recently, the company has shown prototypes--or discussed development work on--cell phones containing MP3 players, phones integrated into wristwatches and wireless Internet phones.

The idea behind these developments is to establish the Korean electronics giant as one of the lead designers of wireless communication devices, which are increasingly being asked to take on additional functions. The cell phone/TV, for example, will also contain an electronic phonebook, similar to the databases found on Palm Computing handhelds.

"With the successful development of the TV Phone, we have set a new technological paradigm in the area of digital convergence," Ki Tae Lee, executive vice president of the company's wireless terminals division, said in a statement.

Tempting as it sounds, users will not be able to watch TV and talk at the same time. If a call comes in while the TV is on, the unit automatically changes to phone mode, Samsung said. The unit should allow for 170 minutes of battery life in phone mode or 200 minutes for TV viewing.