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Samsung and Microsoft design cheap Pocket PC PDAs

Microsoft and Semiconductor are working on concept designs for personal digital assistants (PDAs), aiming to bring down the price of handhelds based on Microsoft's Pocket PC software.

Electronics makers will be able to cut the cost of development and get to market quicker by using the ready-made PDA designs, the companies said. The first concept design, announced on Monday, is for "an ultra low-cost" and "ultra small" Pocket PC.

The design incorporates a Samsung ARM9-based S3C2410 application processor, Microsoft's Windows Powered Pocket PC software and a 3.5-inch QVGA grayscale or colour display.

Expansion capabilities are offered through MMC (MultiMedia Card), SD (Secure Digital) and SDIO (Secure Digital I/O) slots.

A device made using the grayscale display design would measure 10.4cm by 7.1cm and weigh 90 grams.

In comparison, Palm's Zire, a recently announced £89 entry-level PDA, measures 11.2cm by 7.4cm and weighs 118 grams.

The concept designs are an attempt to help Microsoft in its battle with PalmSource for market share on the PDA market.

In the third quarter of this year, just over half of PDAs shipped worldwide ran the Palm OS, compared with 28.3% using Microsoft's software, according to research company Gartner Dataquest.

Gartner analysts Ken Dulaney and Todd Kurt believed the Samsung/Microsoft reference design "does not hold much appeal".

Ina briefing paper, they said biggest shake-up in the PDA market would come from Dell's introduction of PDAs later this month. "Dell's aggressive pricing will force other vendors to change their prices or product strategies," they said.

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