If you subscribe to the theories of Bill Gates then you would agree that the tablet PC is supposed to be the next big thing in personal computing. Whether this claim will prove true still remains to be seen, but numerous electronics manufacturers are attempting to fill the market with various tablet incarnations. One such device is the new Philips 150DM; tagged as a “Smart Display” this 15-inch LCD monitor with an XGA (1024 x 768) resolution can be detached from its base station and function as a wireless tablet PC-like device complete with a large stylus to navigate menus and write text using built-in character recognition.
The 150DM weighs in at only 5.3 pounds, and this feature is important as this device is being marketed to the mobile user as both a tablet PC and a LCD monitor for your desktop computer. The 150DM’s similarities to a tablet PC are really only skin deep due to its reliance on a 802.11b wireless network connection to interface with your host computer. On the plus side, this “tablet” PC will still have all the processing power of a desktop machine. Generally, a standard tablet PC will be limited simply by the form factor of such a device and the longevity and power of the battery. It might be simpler to think of the 150DM as remote connectivity device for the PC you already have.
Now because the 150DM uses the 802.11b wireless standard there are a few limitations to the device. Most notable is the range of the screen when detached from the base station. In ideal situations a user might be able to put 300 feet between the screen and the base station, but odds are the real distance will be somewhat shorter. Another limitation, one that was addressed in our NEC Wireless Projector First Look, is that there just simply isn’t enough bandwidth available on the 802.11b network for full screen, high quality video. While the desktop machine may be able to post 10,000 3DMarks, if that video can’t be streamed fast enough to the LCD screen all the PC’s power isn’t visible to its user. Watching a DVD while the screen is detached is also implausible. It is important to remember, however, that the LCD screen acts a fully functional monitor when docked in the base station.
Despite these few shortcomings the 150DM is certainly more than capable of handling common computer tasks like web surfing, email, online chat, even streaming audio if the device is attached to speakers. For a limited time the 150DM retail package will include a stylish wireless keyboard to augment your input options. Keep in mind though that the base station has the capacity to handle your own USB keyboard and mice. As for the 150 DM’s battery life, Philips claims an operative lifespan of five hours per charge, but real life results have revealed a slightly shorter battery life expectancy.
The 150DM has been slated for release in early February, but as of publication time none were available from online retailers. This Philips 150DM Smart Display carries with it a suggested retail price of $1500 USD.