ViewSonic today unveiled its line of Windows Powered Smart Displays (code-named Mira), which utilize Windows CE .NET technology to wirelessly connect a smart display panel to a PC elsewhere in the home. The effect is similar to that of a cordless phone, in that this new style of mobile monitor allows the user freedom to roam around the house, accessing the PC from rooms other than the home office. ViewSonic's Smart Displays will come in two sizes, the company says, and due to a key software and hardware bundle, the products will over overcome my key concerns about the technology.

"Smart Displays are the latest step in the evolution of the monitor, offering the flexibility and power that will transform home computing," says Brian Igoe, the vice president of US sales at ViewSonic. "The enthusiastic support we have received from our retail partners demonstrates the potential of this new product category to today’s technology-savvy consumers."

Viewsonic will offer its airPanel V110 and V150 Smart Displays in the first quarter of 2003. The V110 is a 10 inch secondary display meant to complement the primary display people already use with their home PC. The V150 is a 15" primary display device, meant to replace the existing display; the 15" version includes a docking station so the display can be mounted in front of the PC for desktop use. Both products include a copy of Windows XP Professional and a USB-based wireless networking adapter, both of which are required by the Smart Display technology. The V110 will retail for approximately $1000, while the V150 will cost about $1300.

In a briefing with Microsoft and ViewSonic late Monday, I was told that the Smart Displays would be available at major online retailers such as Amazon.com, Buy.com, and Dell.com, as well as traditional computer superstores such as CompUSA. Like Microsoft's Broadband Networking Hardware, all Smart Displays will ship with a simple installation wizard designed to get consumers up and running as quickly as possible. "It's a complete solution," Viewsonic product manager David Feldman representative told me.

Going forward, Windows Powered Smart Displays will evolve into remote terminals for businesses and homes, smart projectors with integrated wireless, and High-Definition TV sets, the companies told me. "This is just version one of the software," Feldman noted.