Cell phone doubles as computer

Samsung announces a "smart phone" that operates as both a cellular phone and a handheld computer based on Microsoft's Windows CE operating system.

2 min read
Samsung Telecommunications America has announced a cellular "smart phone" that also operates as handheld computer using Microsoft's Windows CE operating system.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas today, Samsung introduced two cellular devices capable of voice, fax, and email transmission; word processing and spreadsheet computing; and personal information storage functions, such as an address book.

The SCS 200 operates on the advanced PCS standard, a digital cellular technology that's used worldwide, while the SCS 100 follows the older standard.

Both models employ Windows CE 2.0, the slimmed-down version of the PC desktop standard that appears to be rapidly moving beyond usage in handheld computers. Also at CES, a company called IGS Technologies is demonstrating the first TV set-top box to employ Windows CE.

More important, there have been persistent rumors that Microsoft is talking with cable giant TCI about including Windows CE in TCI's next-generation set-top boxes. (See related story)

Until recently, Microsoft had not been active in the world of consumer electronics, but now it appears the software giant is charging into the market armed with a variety of strategies. The trend is a hopeful one for PC manufacturers if they decide to take up the challenge: While the penetration of PCs into U.S. homes just recently broke the 40-percent mark, televisions and phones are nearly ubiquitous.

Samsung's dual-mode cell phones come with a small keyboard and a two-line display, meaning they will be difficult to use as data-entry devices. On the other hand, Samsung says they will utilize a stylus for handwriting recognition and to manipulate screen icons.

The Samsung smart phones will come with abbreviated versions of Microsoft's Word, Excel, and Internet Explorer, a Web browser.

Samsung expects its dual-mode smart phones to become available in mid-1998 for under $500. Cellular and PCS carriers will handle distribution, meaning the phones are likely to be sold in consumer electronics stores.