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Microsoft MIRA


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									TECHNOLOGY                                                                             By Geoff Walker

Microsoft                  MIRA
                            “Mira” is yet          MICROSOFT MIRA AT A GLANCE
                                                                                              Tatung Mira prototype

                                              Mira is Microsoft's code name for a wireless, pen-
                                  another     enabled monitor intended for use with your home PC.
                               Microsoft-     Mira extends the use of Windows XP to any room in
                                              your house. Mira can be summarized as follows:
                            championed          q Available Christmas 2002, $500 to $800

                                 concept        q 14 OEMs & ODMs are signed up to build Miras
                                                q Two form factors: “main monitor” and “mobile monitor”
                                 meant to       q Main monitors are 15" XGA
Philips Mira prototype         extend the       q Mobile monitors are 8.4" and 10.4" SVGA
ViewSonic Mira prototype
                                 reach of       q Mira communicates with the home PC via WiFi (802.11b)
                                                q Mira uses Terminal Server software built into XP Pro
                                                q Only one Mira can be used at a time
                              beyond the        q Mira doesn't support full-motion video or 3D games
                                With Mira     f you’re thinking about buying a     house, or even in the back yard.
                              you access
                           your PC with
                                            I new monitor or a new PC, you’re
                                              probably considering getting one
                                            with a flat LCD screen.
                                                                                   According to Microsoft CEO Steve
                                                                                   Ballmer, “Mira does for monitors
                                                                                   what the cordless handset did for
                                               Microsoft’s “Mira” (derived         telephones.” Think about that for

                               a wireless   from Spanish for “to watch”)
                                            simply makes that LCD mobile.
                                                                                   a moment – it’s a darn good
                                                                                   analogy. “Mira,” by the way, is

                              connection    Mira is a wireless, pen-enabled
                                            monitor. You’ll also see it referred
                                                                                   only a temporary code name.
                                                                                   Microsoft hasn’t decided on a

                             from wher-     to as a “smart display,” which
                                            isn’t a very useful name, since it
                                                                                   final name for product. They’ll
                                                                                   have to decide soon, though,
                                            doesn’t mean anything specific.        since Mira products are sched-
                            ever you are    Why would anyone want a wire-          uled to be available in time for
                                            less monitor? To be able to use a      Christmas 2002.
                           in the house.    home PC in any room of the

Extending                            also means that you                                                                                       base and used
the Experience                       have access to all of                                                                                      anywhere in the
Think of the applications and        your PC peripherals,                                                                                        house. When it’s
features you use on your PC,         such as printers, CD                                                                                         mobile, it com-
and then consider whether            burners and Zip drives.                                                                                      municates with
some of them would be easier         Mira is your PC, wherever                         ira proto
                                                                                                type                                               the PC via WiFi
                                                                              Philips M
or better used away from the         you want it. This is what                                                                                     (802.11b) wire-
desk and room where the PC           Microsoft calls “relaxed,                                                                               less. Most of the
lives. One of the most obvious       casual computing.” For a                                                                   Mira main monitors to be an-
uses is reading news and other       very slick, two-minute Mi-                                                                 nounced in 2002 will use 15"
Internet content (browsing the       crosoft concept video of a                                                                 XGA (1024 x 768) LCDs, since
web). Wouldn’t it be more            family using a Mira in four                                                                that’s the current “sweet spot”
comfortable to do it in an easy      different rooms on two different                                                           in LCD monitors.
chair or on the couch with a         floors of a house, visit                    Initial Form Factors                              Mira mobile monitors can be
Mira mobile monitor? But don’t       http://www.microsoft.com/win-               Most Mira V1 products will be                  used only remotely from the PC.
stop there — what about read-        dowsxp/mira/video.asp.                      available in one of two basic                  They can’t be connected di-
ing and responding to email,                                                     form factors: “primary detach-                 rectly to the PC like a main

                                      R ationale
doing instant messaging, re-                                                     able monitor” and “secondary                   monitor. They also communi-
viewing your personal                                                            mobile monitor.” For the re-                   cate with the PC via WiFi
finances, planning a trip with                                                   mainder of this article, these                 (802.11b) wireless. Mira mobile
mapping software, doing cross-          The basic                                terms are shortened to “main                   monitors will generally have
word puzzles, viewing and                                                        monitor” and “mobile monitor.”                 some form of docking cradle
editing photos, playing solitaire,      concept of Mira                          The Mira main monitor, as the                  (or at least a passive stand) to
doing minor editing with a                                                       name implies, replaces the                     hold the unit while it is being
productivity application, play-         is to extend the                         standard CRT or LCD monitor                    used with a keyboard and a
ing and managing MP3 files,                                                      on a PC. When a Mira main                      mouse. Most of the Mira mobile
sharing your photo albums with         reach of your PC                          monitor is being used next to                  monitors that will be
friends, reading ebooks, listen-                                                 the PC, it’s connected via a                   announced in 2002 will use 8.4"
ing to Internet radio stations, or     to every room of                          VGA or DVI cable, just like any                or 10.4" SVGA (800 x 600) LCDs,
reading endless documents                                                        other monitor. However, it can                 since that’s the design center
and presentations from work?
Finally, breaking away from the
                                            the house                            be detached (removed) from its                 of most webpads.

“couch” environment, what
                                         Figure 1: The Mira log-in screen is the first thing you see on a Mira device. Please
about accessing technical                note that this is a beta version and may be different in the final product
information from a CD-ROM for
your car while you’re in the
   The basic concept of the
Mira is to extend the Windows
PC experience to any room in
the home. When you’re using a
Mira, you’re using your PC. This
is significantly different from
using a webpad. With a web-
pad, you’re limited to browsing
the Internet and using a few,
limited-functionality CE appli-
cations. When you’re using a
Mira, you have access to all
the data and applications that
are resident on your PC. This
means that the Mira reflects all
of your personalized PC set-
tings such as My Favorites, My
Pictures, folder settings, etc. It

                    www.pencomputing.com                                               M I R A                                  July     2002
   Characteristic                    Mira            LCD Monitor Internet Appliance                       Webpad              Tablet PC          Laptop PC

   Positioning                The evolution of Desktop monitor               Limited capability       Limited capability     The evolution        Mobile PC
                                the monitor                                   Internet access          Internet access        of the laptop
   Target Market                 Consumer         Consumer                       Consumer                 Consumer               Mobile             Mobile
                                                and enterprise                                       and vertical markets    professionals       professionals
   PC                         No (peripheral) No (peripheral)                No (competition)          No (competition)            Yes                Yes
   User Interface                Windows          Windows                        Browser                   Browser             Windows             Windows
   Mobile                           Yes              No                            No                         Yes                  Yes                Yes
   Wireless                       802.11b            No                            No                       802.11b         802.11b & WAN       802.11b & WAN
   Standalone Apps           Very limited in V1      No                            No                        Some              Unlimited           Unlimited
   Quiet, Cool                      Yes              Yes                           Yes                        Yes                 Some                No
   Instant-On                       Yes              Yes                           Yes                        Yes                 Yes1                No
   Pen Support                      Yes              No                            No                         Yes                  Yes                No
   Full-Motion Video             Not in V1           Yes                           No                         No                  Most2              Most2
   and 3D Games
   OS                        Windows CE .Net               None                Windows CE,              Windows CE            Windows XP         Windows 98
                                                                                  Linux                 Linux, QNX          Tablet PC Edition     2000, XP
   1 Resume in two seconds, but boot is still slow 2 (some may not have strong 3D support)

The Input Problem                           screens (resistive digitizers) for           less keyboard and mouse (USB,           going to be practical for long
Looks pretty cool, doesn’t it? As           use with a pen, on-screen                    IR, RF, etc.). But what if you          emails or anything else that
long as whatever you’re doing               keyboards, handwriting recogni-              want to write more than a one-          requires a lot of input. A real
doesn’t require a lot of input,             tion (Transcriber, the same as               line response to an email?              keyboard is the only solution.
everything’s great. Most Mira               on a Pocket PC), and a method                Handwriting recognition and on-         But how do you actually do it?
monitors have will touch                    of connecting a corded or cord-              screen keyboards are never              Do you put the Mira on the

  Mira is unique. There’s nothing exactly like it on the market today. However, there are several other wireless
  monitor products that share some degree of commonality with Mira. These include the AirSpeak Flair, the
  Xtend from DOT Design Technologies, the Panasonic Toughbook 07 and the Sony Airboard. (See Table 4 for URLs.)

  AirSpeak Flair                                                                             DOT Design Technologies Xtend
  The Flair is a wireless monitor aimed at the enterprise market                             The Xtend is closest of the four products in concept to the Mira.
  rather than the home market. It was initially designed to wirelessly                       Created by a tiny startup in San Mateo, CA, the Xtend is like an
  connect to a “corridor cruiser’s” desktop PC and provide remote                                                                       enhanced Mira running
  mobile access to the desktop. The Flair is similar to the Mira in that                                                                 Linux instead of Win-
  it’s a Windows CE device with integrated WiFi (802.11b) wireless,                                                                      dows CE. According to
  except that the protocol used between the Flair and a desktop PC is                                                                    Todd Shafer, President
  proprietary. The Flair is a more open platform than the Mira, since it                                                                 and Founder of DOT
  can also be configured as a wireless thin client or a CE tablet.                                                                       Design Technologies, the
  When the Flair is configured as a thin client, the protocol used                                                                       product is presently in
  between the Flair and a server can be either Microsoft’s RDP or                                                                        the “virtual prototype”
  Citrix’s ICA. When it’s configured as a CE tablet, the Flair can sup-                                                                  phase of development.
  port wide-area wireless                                                                                                                DOT’s philosophy strong-
  (CDPD or GSM) as well                                                                                                                  ly emphasizes the long-
  as WiFi. AirSpeak’s                                                                                                                    term benefits of an open
  primary target markets                                                                                                                design based on Linux.
  for the CE tablet version                                                                  DOT also clearly understands that a device such as the Xtend is
  of the Flair are health-                                                                   “primarily for read-only activities.” There are two main areas
  care, manufacturing                                                                        where the design of the Xtend differs from Microsoft’s concept of
  and retail. List price of                                                                  Mira: RDP and standalone applications. First, instead of Microsoft’s
  the Flair is $1,895 for the                                                                RDP, the Xtend uses a proprietary protocol between the wireless
  wireless monitor or CE                                                                     monitor and the PC. Second, the Xtend includes a full web browser,
  tablet version and                                                                         an email client and accessory applications such as a universal
  $1,695 for the thin client                                                                 remote control for audio-visual equipment, a calculator and a
  version.                                                                                   notepad. DOT’s street price target for the Xtend is $699.

coffee table and the keyboard           case of the consumer who has a
on your lap? The screen’s hard          PC running Windows XP Home
to read at that distance. Do you        but knows little about it (they
put them both in some sort of           just use it). The PC must have an
“portfolio” case and balance the        internal or external wireless
case on your lap? It’s clumsy           Access Point installed and
and awkward. With a Mira main           configured, and XP Home must
monitor, it’s impossible because        be upgraded to XP Pro (more on
it is too big. The reality is that if   this later). There may be wire-
you need to use a keyboard,             less dead spots in the home due
you’re going to put the Mira (in a      to plaster walls or other prob-
stand or dock) and the keyboard         lems. In the worst case, the
on a table or desk. At least it         consumer may have decided to
doesn’t have to be in the same          upgrade to broadband at the
room as the PC.                         same time, so the broadband
                                        configuration may also be added
The OOBE Challenge                      to the mix.
The ultimate target market for             To help minimize this com-
Mira is any consumer with a PC.         plexity, Microsoft is working
The out-of-box-experience               with the Mira OEMs to ensure
(OOBE, what the consumer sees           they develop appropriate bun-
and does when they first open           dles – for example, a PC and
the Mira box) is therefore very         Mira already fully configured.
important. Microsoft is going to        Microsoft is also in discussions
significant lengths to make the         with retailers and other organi-
OOBE as easy as possible, but           zations about wireless installa-
it’s a challenge. Consider the          tion services, though they aren’t

                                                                                                   above: Sony Airboard

                                                                            device category called the “IT TV” (information technology televi-
Panasonic Toughbook 07                                                      sion). The Airboard consists of a 12.1” wireless monitor connected
The Toughbook 07 was reviewed in the April/May issue of Pen Com-
                                                                            via WiFi (802.11b) to a base station (not a PC). The base station
puting (issue #44, page 40). Like the rest of the Toughbook family of
                                                                            contains the following functionality:
                                               products, it’s aimed at
                                                                            • TV tuner for connection to CATV cable or an antenna
                                                enterprise and govern-
                                                                            • Two video inputs for DVD, VCR, satellite tuner or other AV enter-
                                                ment markets, not the
                                                                                tainment devices
                                                home. Typical applica-
                                                                            • 56 Kbps modem for connection to a phone line
                                                tions for the Toughbook
                                                                            • Ethernet for connection to a cable or ADSL modem
                                                07 include law enforce-
                                                                            • Router and WiFi (802.11b) access point supporting up to 15 PCs
                                                ment (e.g., bicycle po-
                                                                            • Print server supporting a USB printer accessible by the Airboard
                                                licemen), aircraft main-
                                                                                and the PCs
                                                tenance and “line bust-
                                                                            • Charging for the Airboard’s rechargeable battery
                                                ing” (using a mobile
                                                                               The Airboard supports picture-in-picture, so you can be surfing
                                                POS terminal to shorten
                                                                            the Internet or checking your email while simultaneously watching
                                                service lines). The
                                                                            TV or a DVD movie in one corner of the screen. The print server
                                             Toughbook 07 consists of
                                                                            allows printing images from the TV, not just the Internet. Unlike Mira
a “brick-like” base module and a handheld wireless monitor incor-
                                                                            V1, the Airboard can be used standalone, for example, in public WiFi
porating an 8.4” SVGA transflective TFT. The use of a transflective
                                                                            hotspots. The Airboard also includes offline email, drawing and
LCD allows operation indoors or outdoors; the wireless monitor is
                                                                            photo-display applications. Like Mira V1, only one Airboard can be
rugged enough to survive repeated four-foot drops to concrete. The
                                                                            used at a time, but since the Airboard isn’t replacing the monitor on
Toughbook 07 is a full PC and can run any version of Windows (98,
                                                                            a PC, it’s less of an issue. Since the base station contains a router
NT-4, 2000 or XP). It uses a proprietary protocol over a standard
                                                                            and WiFi access point, the Airboard’s broadband connection can be
WiFi (802.11b) link between the base module and the handheld wire-
                                                                            shared by up to 15 PCs.
less monitor. The Toughbook 07 is sold through VARs and in quantity
                                                                               The Airboard is currently sold only in Japan. Satoru Maeda, cre-
to large end-users (there is no published price).
                                                                            ator of the Airboard and head of Sony’s Personal IT division, told the
                                                                            author that introduction in the US was being considered but that it
Sony Airboard                                                               required careful, detailed planning in light of the US economy and
                                                                            Sony’s recent experience with the eVilla (Sony’s Internet Appliance
The Airboard is a wireless monitor that embodies the convergence
of entertainment (TV and other audio-visual sources) and informa-           that was pulled from the US market after only two months of sales).
tion (Internet access). As such, Sony puts the Airboard in a new            The street price of the Airboard in Japan is 130,000 yen (around
                                                                            $1,000). x

                     www.pencomputing.com                                      M I R A                        July        2002
ready to talk about any details      via two dedicated Application         but for the keynote-level            answer is cost and complexity.
yet. Intel, who sells WiFi           buttons – note that there’s no        speeches, Microsoft boiled it        A Mira monitor should be sub-
(802.11b) hardware to OEMs           other way to start local applica-     down to “Mira is like a cordless     stantially lower cost than a
building Miras, is also sensitive    tions. Microsoft’s reason for this    phone (you can only use it in the    decent laptop, and ideally even
to the problem. “We’re trying to     limitation seems to be to ensure      house), while the Tablet PC is       lower cost than a low-end PC
figure out easy mechanisms for       that the product positioning is       like a cellphone (you can use it     (more on cost later). Complexity
setup and connectability for the     crystal clear – it’s a remote         anywhere).” Paul Thurrott            is even more significant. It can
wireless system. We want to          monitor, and you’re running           commented on this in his WinIn-      be difficult, expensive and time-
make it so my mom can use it”        applications on your PC. Period.      fo Daily Update (www.winnet-         consuming to keep multiple PCs
(Mike Iannitti, Director of Ex-      As soon as you add meaningful         mag.net) on April 19, saying         at the same level in terms of
tended Computer Operations at        local applications and data, then     “One problem with introducing        application versions, anti-virus
Intel, in a story in EE Times).      you’ve introduced a sense of          new technology to the masses         files, favorites, user interface
                                     “state,” where the user has to        is that you have to dumb it down     tweaks, downloads, data file
User Interface                       think about whether they’re           for the attention-deficit-disorder   synchronization, etc. Setting up
When you sign on to a Mira, the      working locally or remotely.          crowd. Microsoft’s recent            a full-scale home network to
process is almost the same as        Microsoft believes that for           attempts to differentiate its Mira   deal with this just raises the
signing on to XP. The fact that      Mira’s ultimate target audience,      remote-display technology from       complexity level even further. If
you’re doing it over a wireless      simplicity is critical.               the Tablet PC are groan-induc-       the objective is to give your
link is almost transparent. Figure      Not everyone agrees. Proba-        ing. Seriously, did anyone actu-     teenager their own PC in their
1 shows a screenimage of a           bly the most vocal disagreement       ally confuse these products?”        bedroom, and they’re going to
prototype Mira logon screen.         comes from The Register, a UK-        Table 1 presents this author’s       manage it themselves, then a
Looks a lot like XP, doesn’t it?     based, on-line publication            version of a product type-com-       second PC makes sense. But if
One Mira can connect (sequen-        whose slogan is “Biting the           parison. See the sidebar on          the objective is to extend your
tially) to multiple PCs, thus the    hand that feeds IT.” Their story,     “Other Wireless Monitors” for        own use of the PC to other
“Connect to:” field in the upper     entitled “Microsoft’s Mira – take     information on related products.     rooms in the house, then a Mira
left corner. The Battery and         smart display, maim, serve” is           One might ask, is Mira an         is worth consideration. One final
Connection indicators are self-      worth reading. Visit                  “information appliance?” Mi-         aspect is the “quiet, cool, in-
explanatory, but the Application     http://www.theregister.co.uk/         crosoft’s answer is a definite no.   stant-on” nature of a Mira. It’s
buttons need some explanation.       content/archive/24463.html.           The Microsoft Mira team is           substantially more comfortable
   Mira is actually a full Win-                                            careful never to use the dread-      and convenient to use than a
dows CE-based computer. It           Comparison with                       ed “IA” word. Information appli-     laptop (assuming that a high
could run Pocket Office or other     Other Devices                         ances were a hot future product      volume of keyboard input isn’t
CE applications. However,            Microsoft has put an unusual          in 1999 and 2000, but they basi-     required, of course).
Microsoft is discouraging the        amount of effort into carefully       cally died a quiet death in 2001.
Mira OEMs from including any         delineating the differences           The IA word is now associated        Media Reaction
standard Windows CE applica-         between Mira and other related        with failure, and Microsoft          Most of the stories about Mira
tions in the Mira ROM. Only very     products. To some extent, this        wants no part of it.                 in the computer trade press
simple, consumer-oriented            seems to be driven by                                                      have been factual, with relative-
applications such as “TV remote      Microsoft’s Tablet PC project;        Why Not Another PC?                  ly few dissenting opinions. This
control” or “electronic picture      there is concern about potential      The main competition for Mira is     is probably because Mira is a
frame” (software that displays       confusion between Mira and            another PC. After all, if you want   new concept in the consumer
photos from external storage         Tablet PCs. The differentiation       to use a PC in the living room,      space, compared to the Tablet
cards) are recommended. The          was clearly drawn in technical        and you want to use a keyboard,      PC. The latter carries a lot of
user starts these applications       terms in the WinHEC sessions,         why not just buy a laptop? The       baggage from the last 12 years

  Spec                    DOT Design          Panasonic Toughbook 07                    AirSpeak Flair            Sony Airboard
                          Techn. Xtend
  Product Concept         Enhanced Mira       2-piece rugged PC w/ wireless display Wireless monitor, thin        Convergence of TV
                          running Linux                                                 client or CE tablet       and Internet access
  Market                  Home                Enterprise & government                   Enterprise                Home
  LCD                     10.4" XGA           8.4" Transflective SVGA                   12.1" XGA                 12.1" SVGA
  CPU                     Geode               Pentium III @ 300 MHz                     StrongARM                 MIPS @ 200 MHz
  Operating System        Linux               Windows 98, NT-4, 2000, XP                Windows CE 3.0            VXWorks (Wind River)
  Storage Slots           1-CF                None (5 GB hard disk)                     2-PC                      1-Memory Stick
  Size (in.)              9.5 x 9.5 x 1.5     8.7 x 6.4 x 1.2 (LCD)7.9 x 3.6 x 2.1 (PC) 11.7 x 9.4 x 1.2          14.5 x 9.5 x 2.1
  Weight (lbs.)           4.5                 1.5 (LCD); 2.1 (PC)                       3.3                       4.6
  Battery (hrs.)          3-5                 2                                         6                         2-3

that tends to evoke strong                   TABLE 2: Microsoft’s Mira Partners as of May 2002
opinions. The majority of the
published opinion on Mira so far            Companies Building Mira Monitors
has been positive. An example               Company           Type and Location Comments
of both sides is as follows:
   “Mira is a big deal,” said               AboCom          ODM (Taiwan)      Makes 10.4" webpads for three OEMs (top provider)
Martin Reynolds from Gartner                DT Research     OEM/ODM (Taiwan) Showed 8.4" Mira prototype at CeBIT
Dataquest. “It’s compelling                                                   Sells webpads/thin clients under own WebDT brand
because you have the applica-                                                 Builds ODM webpads and thin clients
tions running on the computer                                                 Providing hardware for Microsoft’s Mira beta test
itself. There’s no need for very            Fujitsu         OEM (Japan)       Builds lots of pen tablets
fast processors on the Mira pad;                                              No webpads, but is developing a Tablet PC
that will just burn the battery.”           LG Electronics OEM/ODM (Korea)    Announced they will build 15" Mira as an OEM
   “Microsoft thinks you’ll carry                                             Considering building 10.4" or larger remote Mira
around an LCD panel as a re-                                                  Announced a webpad in 2001 but never completed it
mote-access device for your                                                   ODM for one of the Tablet PC OEMs
home PC. Maybe as a drink                   NEC             OEM (Japan)       Partnered w/ Tatung on a webpad for Japanese market
tray…” (Stephen Howard-Sarin,                                                 Developing a Tablet PC
writing for ZDNet’s                         Philips         OEM (Netherlands) Showed 10.4" Mira prototype at CeBIT
AnchorDesk).                                                                  Showed 15" Mira ID model at WinHEC, no webpads
                                            Tatung          ODM (Taiwan)      Showed 10.4" Mira prototype at CeBIT and WinHEC
Reality Check                                                                 Builds ODM webpads, is developing a Tablet PC
Whenever Microsoft comes up                 Toshiba         OEM (Japan)       No webpads, is developing a Tablet PC
with a new product concept, the             TriGem          ODM (Korea)       Showed 8.4" Mira prototype at WinHEC
world has learned to ask, “Is it                                              Considering building a larger Mira
real? Is it going to stick, or is it                                          Has a joint venture with SOTEC in Japan
just another half-baked idea?”              ViewSonic       OEM (USA)         Showed 15" Mira prototype at CES
Not everything Microsoft tries is                                             Sells 10.4" pre-Mira wireless monitor (AirPanel 100)
successful. For example, take                                                 Sells webpads and pen tablets
the Auto PC. Have you heard                                                   Developing a Tablet PC
anything significant about it                                                 Providing hardware for Microsoft’s Mira beta test
since 1999? On a “realness                  Wistron         ODM (Taiwan)      No webpads, is developing a Tablet PC
scale” of 1-10, the author puts             Wyse Technology OEM (USA)         Showed 15" Mira non-mobile prototype at CeBIT
Mira at about 6-7. In compari-                                                Will also build 10.4" Mira and "remote terminal" Mira
son, the Tablet PC is at about 9.                                             No webpads, but resold Zenith CruisePad in late 90’s
One way of gauging this factor is
to look at the number of people             Companies Building Mira-Enabled PCs
on the respective project teams
at Microsoft. The Tablet PC team            Fujitsu           OEM (Japan)          See above
has around 200 people; the Mira             NEC               OEM (Japan)          See above
team has around 20. However,                Panasonic         OEM (Japan)          No webpads
that’s actually a little misleading.                                               Focused mostly on Japanese market
Tablet PC requires creating a               SOTEC             OEM (Japan)          No webpads
separate version of Windows,                                                       Focused exclusively on Japanese market
along with many capabilities for
creating, managing, manipulat-              Technology Companies
ing and storing digital ink. That
takes substantial engineering               Intel             IHV (USA)            Providing XScale CPUs
resources. Mira, on the other               National Semi.    IHV (USA)            Providing Geode CPUs
hand, is simply a repurposing
and tweaking of existing tech-         Key Technologies                   The key technologies in Mira         Are you surprised to see
nologies. Also, assessing Mi-          Mira V1 is a classic Microsoft     include the following:            “webpad hardware designs”
crosoft products requires taking       product. It’s a set of existing    • Existing webpad hardware        listed as one of the key tech-
a multi-year view, acknowledg-         technologies, nicely packaged,        designs                        nologies? Webpads and wire-
ing their incremental step-by-         well-positioned with strong        • Windows XP                      less monitors are both “embed-
step approach, and the fact that       marketing spin, and defined as a   • Microsoft Windows CE .Net       ded devices.” They both need a
Microft doesn’t care what hard-        platform on which OEMs, IHVs       • WiFi (802.11b) wireless LAN     CPU and an embedded OS to
ware form-factor wins.                 and ISVs can develop products.     • Microsoft Terminal Services     drive an LCD, manage a wire-

                     www.pencomputing.com                                   M I R A                       July    2002
                                                                                                              DT Research WebDT 380

    Microsoft’s all-encompass-        consumption and streaming)          once offering a
 ing vision of the Connected          • A “Freestyle distance user        single reason why
 Home includes entertainment          interface” (a PC remote control     the consumer
 devices, computing devices and       with an appropriate on-screen       would want it. The
 communications devices, all          interface for use ten feet away)    underlying as-
 connected together via an IP-        • An “audio-visual node” (a         sumption seemed
 capable home network that’s          device that renders streamed        to be “Because it
 also bridged to a control net-       audio and video content)            can be controlled
 work supporting home automa-         • A “digital audio receiver” (a     by a PC, it should
 tion devices. The basic objec-       device that renders streamed        be.” It’s simply not
 tives of the Connected Home          audio content)                      obvious that it makes sense to          Edwards, Director of Marketing
 include the following:               • Self-amplified, digital speak-    use a PC to control room lights,        for Microsoft’s Embedded Appli-
                                      ers containing their own audio      room temperature, electric              ance and Platform Group
 • Make all audio-visual content      codecs                              blinds, etc. Using a complex            (EAPG), Microsoft is “working
 available anywhere inside and        • All existing audio-visual         network to pipe music around            hard to ensure that consumers
 outside the home                     equipment (TV, VCR, DVD, PVR,       the house (albeit, different            will have as few hurdles (both
 • Display relevant information       DSS, etc.)                          music in different rooms) seems         technical and financial) as
 on all content in a consistent       • Home automation controls          to be technical overkill. Having Sheu, FIC
                                                                                                         Dr. Gene possible for Mira V1.”
 manner on all devices                and devices connected to a          all the media content resident             Windows CE .Net (4.0) is the
 • Make all devices in the home       dedicated control network (X10,     on the PC could be interesting,         obvious choice for Mira’s em-
 function together as a uniform,      EIB, Lonworks, Cebus, Jini, etc.)   but people want to consume              bedded OS, since Windows XP
 automated system                                                         media, not spend time manag-            Embedded would be overkill for
 • Make all device user experi-                                           ing it. A PVR works perfectly           a product as simple as a wire-
 ences available anywhere                Some Questions                   well alone, what real advantage         less monitor. A Mira-type prod-
 inside or outside the home              During one of the WinHEC         is there in having the PC control       uct could certainly be built with
 • Allow trusted suppliers to         sessions on the Connected           it? These kinds of questions            Linux as the embedded OS, but
 provide reliable services            Home, Microsoft showed a            were not addressed in any               then it wouldn’t be a Microsoft
 through the devices in the home      short video in which a woman        convincing way.                         product, would it? (See the
                                      puts a DVD movie into a player.          The second question many           sidebar on “Other Wireless
    In addition to all of the vari-   Because everything is net-          people have about the Connect-          Monitors” for an example.)
 eties of Miras described in the      worked together, that simple        ed Home is “Is there any                   WiFi (802.11b) wireless is also
 main article, the Connected          action caused (a) the room          chance of it all working correct-       the obvious choice for the physi-
 Home includes many other             lights to be dimmed, (b) the        ly?” While everything Microsoft         cal communications between
 kinds of devices all networked       electric blinds to be lowered,      described is technically possi-         Mira’s mobile display and the
 together, as follows (with trans-    (c) the HDTV to turn on, and (d)    ble, today’s PC is simply not           host PC. In Mira V1, the 11 Mbps
 lations of the Microsoft jargon):    the DVD to start playing. The       stable and reliable enough to           speed of “b” is plenty fast
                                      audience reaction seemed to         control the entire house. Rec-          enough. Intel says they will
 • Standard PCs                       be mostly skepticism.               ognizing this, Microsoft has            migrate to a dual 802.11a/b
 • A “network edge device” (a            The first question many          started working on making the           combination next year as wire-
 PC or set-top box directly con-      people have about the Connect-      PC “more reliable and trustwor-         less hardware costs come down.
 nected to the Internet)              ed Home is “Why would I want        thy.” In fact, Microsoft has set           Microsoft Terminal Services
 • A “residential gateway”            computers to do all that?” In       a goal of making the PC “as             (often referred to by the name of
 (services on a PC providing          one of the WinHEC sessions,         reliable as a CD player” (instant       the protocol it uses, Remote
 DHCP, NAT and a firewall)            Scott Manchester, a Technical       on, never reboots, no reset             Desktop Protocol, or RDP) is the
 • A “media center PC” (a             Evangelist for the Connected        button, quiet, simple to use,           final obvious choice of techno-
 stereo component-like PC that’s      Home, spent a full hour present-    etc.) – but it’s likely to be a long,   logy. Terminal Services provides
 a focal point for digital media      ing a detailed overview of the      slow trip. x                            the “logical” (versus “physical”)
 creation, storage, management,       Connected Home without even                                                 communications between
                                                                                                                  Mira’s mobile display and the
less link, send and receive data      key technology. Mira V1 moni-        must also be installed, because        host PC. Terminal Services can
from various ports, accept input      tors will be supported only on       it includes all the Mira-specific      deliver the Windows XP desktop
from a touch screen, etc. It          XP Pro, because the underlying       PC technology. In the long term,       to almost any client device that
turns out that today’s webpad         technology that allows a remote      clearly the Mira technology must has a screen and an input
hardware designs are an ideal         session (Remote Desktop) is          be included in XP Home in order        method (keyboard, pen or
starting point for Mira.              only in XP Pro, not XP Home. In      to serve the target market. In the     mouse) – such as Mira.
   Windows XP is obviously a          addition, XP Service Pack 1          short term, according to Aubrey

Terminal Services:                                                                                                  (allowing multiple simultaneous
the Key to Mira                         STRONGARM SUCCESSOR: INTEL XSCALE                                           users). On the other hand, in the
Terminal Services was originally           XScale is Intel’s name for a successor to the StrongARM micro-           question-and-answer session
created in 1997 as a component          processor. The “scale” in XScale refers to the CPU’s ability to             after one of his speeches at
of the NT-4 Server OS. It has           dynamically change both frequency and voltage to minimize power             CeBIT, Steve Ballmer, President
matured substantially since             consumption. The “PXA250” is the Intel XScale CPU that will ap-             and CEO of Microsoft, said, “The
then. Windows XP Pro now uses           pear in some Mira products. In Run mode at 300 MHz, the PXA250              [Mira] concept doesn’t make
it to provide remote trouble-           draws about 400 mW of power. In comparison, the StrongARM SA-               sense [without concurrency], so
shooting capability, where one          1110 (used in most of today’s Windows CE devices) in Run mode at            that will be a version 2 feature.”
PC can view and control the             206 MHz draws 800 mW. This majority of this improvement comes                  Rick Merritt, writing about
screen of another PC. You can           from a change in process from 0.35 microns to 0.18 microns; the             WinHEC in EE Times, reported
even use Terminal Services on a         balance comes from architecture improvements.                               that “a senior engineer with one
Pocket PC 2002 device to log on            The core of the XScale CPU incorporates a new version of ARM             OEM said his company would
to a remote PC and display a            architecture that is 100% compatible with existing application              not make Mira-enabled devices
Windows 2000 or XP desktop on           software. ARM (Advanced RISC Machines, www.arm.com) is a                    because in their first iteration a
the Pocket PC screen. In the            company in Cambridge, England that designs microprocessor                   user cannot access a home PC
enterprise, products that use           cores and licenses them to over 70 semiconductor companies                  and the Mira display at the
Terminal Services are typically         (including Intel). ARM’s designs are found in about 75% of all 32-bit       same time.”
referred to as “thin clients” (see      RISC microprocessors. ARM’s next version (after the one currently              Another dissenter, Jack
the sidebar on “Thin Clients” for       used in the XScale) will boost initial clock speeds into the range of       Schofield, writing in The
more information).                      350-500 MHz, compared with 200-400 MHz for the PXA250. x                    Guardian, chimed in with “[You]
    When a user runs an applica-                                                                                    can’t use a remote Mira tablet
tion using Terminal Server, only       for a fraction of a second with-     only one Mira can be used at a          while another member of the
the keyboard, pen, mouse and           out dropping the connection to       time. This is one of the two most       family is hogging the desktop
display information are transmit-      the PC), simplification of auto-     significant limitations of Mira         PC... You would be better off
ted over the wireless link be-         matic reconnection (e.g., when       V1. If your Mira is the main            buying a cheap notebook PC
tween the “terminal” (Mira, in         you walk into and out of an area     display, when you undock it and         instead [of a Mira].”
this case) and the host PC. This       without wireless coverage in         go to another room in the house,
communication is quite efficient,      your house), and improved            you’re still the only user. If your     Full-Motion Video
since only the pixels that have        audio and video performance.         Mira is a mobile monitor, the           The second most significant
changed (screen updates) are                                                main monitor is locked out              limitation of Mira V1 is that
transmitted, not entire screen         Only One Mira                        whenever you use the mobile             Terminal Services (RDP) can’t
images. Since Terminal Ser-            In a server environment, each        monitor (this is similar to the         handle full-motion video (or
vices was originally designed to       Terminal Services user sees          way Remote Desktop works                anything that requires fast
work acceptably over 28.8 Kbps         only their individual session,       today in Windows XP Pro).               refresh). This means you can’t
modem links, running it over           independent of any other client      There can only be one user on a         sit on the couch in the living
WiFi (802.11b) wireless at 11          session. Literally hundreds of       PC today, so only one Mira can          room with your Mira main moni-
Mbps provides more than                sessions can exist simultane-        be used at a time.                      tor on the coffee table and
enough speed.                          ously. The server operating             Microsoft speaks with differ-        watch a DVD movie playing on
    RDP has been tweaked slight-       system transparently manages         ent voices about this limitation.       the PC in the den. (The legal
ly for use in Mira. The improve-       the multiple user sessions. In       Aubrey Edwards said that Mi-            issue of whether you can trans-
ments include improved con-            the current Windows XP envi-         crosoft’s research clearly indi-        mit the contents of a DVD movie
nection management (e.g., to           ronment, Terminal Services is        cated that mobility is more             to a remote device is an entirely
allow losing the wireless signal       single-user. This means that         important than concurrency              separate issue.) RDP also can’t

 Spec               DT Research       Philips      Philips       Tatung          TriGem           ViewSonic        ViewSonic           Wyse Technology
 Base Product       WebDT 380         (New)        (New)         TWN-5213-CU     CE Tablet        AirPanel 100     (New)               3630LE
 LCD                8.4" SVGA         10.4" SVGA   15" XGA       10.4" SVGA      8.4" SVGA        10.4" SVGA       15" XGA             15" XGA
 Size (in.)         7.9 x 9.6 x 1.1   1.0 thick    ND            ND              0.67 thick       13.8 x 8 x 0.9   ND                  14.8 x 15.4 x 7.7
 Weight (lbs.)      2.3               ND           ND            3.2             1.4              2.5              7 proto, 5 target   12.5
 CPU                Geode             XScale       XScale        Geode           XScale           StrongARM        XScale              Geode
 Storage Slots      1-CF              1-SD         ND            1-CF            1-PC             1-PC & 1-CF      ND                  None
 Battery (hrs.)     2-4               5            ND            2-4             4                5                ND                  (AC powered)

                    www.pencomputing.com                                       M I R A                            July    2002
handle any software that re-                    TABLE 4: MIRA-RELATED LINKS AND RESOURCES
quires Direct-X, which means
that you can’t run 3D games of                   AboCom Systems               www.abocom.com.tw/ma1000.htm
any kind (even relatively tame                           AirSpeak             www.airspeak.com/flair_frame.html
3D simulation games such as                      DOT Design Tech.             www.dotdesigntech.com
The Sims or Monopoly Tycoon).                               Fujitsu           www.fujitsu.com
RDP’s bandwidth is sufficient for                             Intel           developer.intel.com/design/pca/prodbref/298620.htm
typical small-window streaming                     LG Electronics             www.lge.com
video from the Web (at 200                              Microsoft             www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mira
Kbps), but that’s about it.                         National Semi             www.national.com/pf/SC/SC3200.html
    Microsoft minimizes the                                   NEC             www.necus.com
importance of this limitation.
                                                       Panasonic              www.panasonic.com/computer/notebook/html/01a07.htm
Microsoft’s position regarding
                                                        Philips CE            www.press.ce.philips.com/cebit2002/connect.html
                                                             Sony             www.sony.jp/airboard/indexpc.html
DVDs is that most families that
watch DVDs already have a
                                                           SOTEC              www.sotec.co.jp/index.html
good viewing setup, usually a big
                                                           Tatung             www.tatungwebpad.com
TV in the family room. Micro-                             Toshiba             www.toshiba.com
soft’s position regarding gaming                           TriGem             www.trigem.com/trigem/front/2002/index.asp
is that most people playing 3D                         ViewSonic              www.viewsonic.com/products/airpanel100.htm
games do so either at a desk                              Wistron             www.wistron.com/index.html
(with joysticks or other game                    Wyse Technology              www.wyse.com/products/winterm/3630le/index.htm
controllers, 5.1 surround speak-                                              www.wyse.com/products/winterm/3200le/index.htm
ers, etc.), or they use a gaming
console such as the X-Box.             and LCD monitors, so Mira               modes for the digitizer is not      screen and an input device, you
                                       probably won’t stay at SVGA             very user-friendly.                 realize that memory of any kind
                                       very long. 12.1” XGA may an                                                 (internal or external) is almost
Hardware                               interesting LCD size for a Mira.        Video Controller The                irrelevant. The user really does-
As noted earlier, the Mira V1          Some OEMs may consider using            video controller shown in the       n’t care how much memory
hardware design is basically the       transflective TFT for improved          block diagram is optional, de-      there is in a Mira because local
same as a webpad. Figure 2             outdoor viewability. Since fewer        pending on the CPU selected,        storage typically won’t be used.
shows the block diagram of a           than 10% of monitors today can          the resolution of the LCD, and      The user is connected to his PC,
generic Mira.                          physically rotate to portrait           the desired video performance.      so storage is the PC’s RAM and
                                       mode, screen rotation in Mira is        It’s one of those classic           disk. The primary reason for
CPU The two primary CPU                not a major issue – although it         cost/performance/battery-life       Mira’s external storage capabil-
providers for Mira are Intel and       may be a good differentiator for        tradeoffs. The bottom portion of    ity is standalone use as an
National. Mira is shaping up as a      an OEM.                                 the block diagram shows the         “electronic picture frame.”
battleground for these two                                                     dock (base) for a Mira main
vendors. Intel has announced           Digitizer Most, if not all, of          monitor. It provides standard       Battery Achieving sufficient
four Mira design wins for their        the initial Miras will use resis-       VGA and DVI inputs, which,          battery life while maintaining
new XScale CPU (AboCom,                tive (touch) digitizers.                after appropriate video process-    light weight may be a challenge
Philips, Tatung and ViewSonic),        Microsoft’s thinking on this is         ing, are “passed through” to the    for Mira developers. Most
while National has announced           that since the Mira is not meant        Mira’s LCD. Note that the dock      webpads today have battery life
three Mira design wins for their       for heavy data input or exten-          also includes USB ports, which      of around 3 hours, and that’s
Geode CPU (DT Research,                sive use of digital ink, the per-       makes sense for both Mira main      typically with the brightness at
Tatung and Wyse). Tatung is            formance of a resistive digitizer       monitors and mobile monitors        medium, the CPU idling most of
doing two designs, that’s why          is adequate. Actually, if a signifi-    (keyboard and mouse connec-         the time while you’re reading
they’re on both lists. At this point   cant portion of the Mira’s use is       tions for the latter). The USB      web pages, and a light duty
it’s impossible to predict which       for web browsing, then an               port can also be used to up-        cycle on the wireless. Constant-
CPU will end up in the majority of     active digitizer (which has hover       grade the Mira software from        ly running Terminal Services to
Mira designs. (See the sidebar         and a right-click button on the         the PC.                             reproduce the frequently chang-
on “Intel XScale” for more             pen) makes more sense. Recog-                                               ing screen of a PC, along with a
information on this new CPU.)          nizing this, but unwilling to force     Storage      External storage       higher duty cycle on the wire-
                                       the Mira OEMs to incur the cost         (typically a compact flash slot)    less, is likely to use more power.
LCD As noted elsewhere in this         premium for an active digitizer,        on a Mira is not required, but is   Screen brightness may be even
article, Mira V1 LCDs are mostly       Microsoft has implemented both          likely to appear in most products   more of a problem, since the
8.4” & 10.4” SVGA, and 15” XGA.        “hover” mode and “right click”          since the incremental hardware      backlight is the largest con-
PC resolution is moving rapidly        mode in the Mira input panel.           cost is very low. If you think of   sumer of power in the Mira. A
to XGA, helped along by laptops        This works, but having three            the Mira V1 as just being a         typical desktop LCD monitor has

a brightness of around 250 nits,
                                           Figure 2:   MIRA Block diagram
a typical laptop is 150 nits, and                                                              User Controls
webpads are typically 100 nits                                                                 and Indicators
or less. It remains to be seen                                    XScale or                                           s Internal Mono Speaker
what combination of brightness
                                                                 Geode CPU                     Audio
                                                                                                                      s Internal Microphone
and battery life the market will               Resistive                                                              •   Microphone In
accept in a Mira device.                       Digitizer                                                              •   Headphones

                                                                                                                      •   USB Ports

What Will Mira Cost?                           Flash       SDRAM                                 802.11b
Keith White, Senior Director of               Memory       Memory                                Wireless
Marketing and Business Devel-
opment in Microsoft’s Embed-
ded Appliance and Platform                                                                                           System Bus
Group, has been widely quoted
in the press as saying that Miras
will cost in the range of $500 to                                                 Controller                              LCD
   The chart below shows a                   MIRA                                 (optional)

simplified breakdown of an
estimated hardware bill of
materials (BOM) cost for a
typical Mira mobile monitor.
                                            DOCK                 USB Ports
                                                                              •          Image Processor

                                                                                     (Mira Main Monitor only)
                                                                              •                                               EEPROM
Component                   Cost
10.4” SVGA LCD              $140
Geode motherboard           $ 70     and the housing (which are           widely accepted.”                     bled a group of companies who
WiFi (802.11b) wireless      $ 45    already accounted for in an LCD         What would the installed cost      have agreed to kick-start the
3-cell Li-ion battery       $ 20     monitor) yields a cost adder of      of a Mira mobile monitor be? It       Mira program. Table 2 lists all
32 MB flash memory           $ 20    $180. Applying the same calcu-       depends on the buyer’s starting       the players, along with their
64 MB SDRAM memory           $ 15    lation as above for the mobile       point. If the user already has a      business model (OEM/ODM),
Resistive digitizer panel   $ 10     monitor produces a forecasted        WiFi (802.11b) wireless network       location and the author’s com-
Housing                     $ 10     minimum adder of $297 for a          in the house and is already           ments. It’s interesting to note
Total                       $330     main monitor, right at the upper     running XP Professional, then         that of the companies who have
                                     limit of Mike Iannitti’s $200 -      the installed cost would be only      announced they’re developing
   Starting with the $330 total      $300 range. The average street       $500. According to Aubrey             Mira monitors, 58% of them are
from the chart and adding 10%        price of a name-brand 15” LCD        Edwards, the initial target mar-      also developing Tablet PCs, 42%
for the ODM’s profit margin,         monitor as of May 2002 is            ket for Mira V1 is “early             of them build or sell webpads,
then multiplying by 1.5 to ac-       around $400. Adding the $297         adopters and technical enthusi-       and 25% of them do both web-
count for the OEM’s total distrib-   Mira hardware to the $400            asts,” so this is the most proba-     pads and Tablet PCs. It’s also
ution cost and margin produces       monitor produces a forecasted        ble scenario. Forecasting the         interesting to note the total
a forecasted minimum street          minimum street price of around       installed cost for a user without     absence of all of the Tier-1 PC
price of $545 for a Mira mobile      $700 for a 15” Mira main moni-       wireless and with XP Home isn’t       OEMs: Compaq, Dell, Gateway,
monitor. This must be somewhat       tor, within Keith White’s $500 -     possible yet, since as noted          HP and IBM. Actually, it’s not
close to reality, since more than    $800 range.                          above, Microsoft hasn’t decided       surprising. Mira is, after all, a
one of Microsoft’s Mira partners        What price point would cause      how they’re going to minimize         form of pen tablet computer,
told the author that achieving a     the Mira mobile monitors to fly      the upgrade cost from XP Home         and you know how most of the
$499 street price for a 10.4”        off the shelf? Probably $299.        to XP Professional.                   Tier-1 OEMs feel about pen
mobile monitor will be a difficult   This seems to be a magic price          Adding broadband Internet          tablets!
challenge.                           point for consumer electronics       access (about $50 per month
   In a story published in EE        in general. Microsoft seems to       with a rented cable modem) is         Mira Prototypes
Times, Mike Iannitti from Intel      agree. In a video interview on       not required for a Mira, but it       As of May 2002, eight Mira
said that he expects the Mira        CNET News.com, Keith White           would make the user experi-           prototypes or mockups have
hardware to add no more than         said “The [Mira mobile monitor]      ence a lot better when browsing       been shown in various public
$200 or $300 to the price of a       price points have to come down       the web on the couch.                 forums. See Table 3 for summa-
regular LCD monitor.                 to a very reasonable $200 to                                               ry specifications on these proto-
   Using the data from the chart     $500 range [instead of $500 to       Mira Partners                         types. Some of the specs are
above but eliminating the LCD        $800] before they’ll really be       As usual, Microsoft has assem-        shown as “ND” (not disclosed)

                    www.pencomputing.com                                      M I R A                         July    2002
    Technically, Mira is a “thin      solution. Thin client hardware
 client” in Information Techno-       is typically more than twice as
 logy (IT) terms. According to        reliable as a PC. With applica-
 National Semiconductor,              tions and data resident on a
 whose Geode processor has            central sever, the per-user cost
 more than 85% of the thin client     of management, support,
 market, a thin client is “a desk-    downtime, backups and up-
 top device with nominal on-          grades is reduced substantial-
 board computing power opti-          ly. New versions of software                       A number of Geode-based products
 mized for information access         are distributed to all thin clients
 from a central server.” Win-         simultaneously, which im-              thin clients due to the wide            first shown at CeBIT, is based
 dows CE .Net running on a            proves data exchange and               range of software and proces-           on the existing Tatung TWN-
 Geode or Xscale processor            collaboration. Thin clients don’t      sor-intensive applications they         5213-CU webpad. The really
 provides “nominal on-board           need hard drives, CPU up-              often need. Thin clients are            unique aspects of this webpad
 computing power” compared            grades, or large amounts of            especially appropriate in envi-         are that it can withstand at least
 to the Pentium 4 in a full PC        memory, which makes them               ronments where there is heavy           a 5-foot drop onto carpeted
 (“fat client”). Remote Desktop       cheaper than a PC. Since               use of template applications,           concrete, and it’s splash proof.
 Protocol (see the main article       there’s no hard drive, data            such as in the completion and           Tatung demonstrated the shock
 for more information) is what        can’t be lost due to hard drive        processing of forms. The top            resistance several times during
 makes Mira “optimized for            failure. Thin client systems can       six markets for thin clients are        WinHEC by dropping it from
 information access from a            grow by adding CPU power,              healthcare, financial services,         shoulder height onto carpeted
 central server.” In the case of      memory and storage to the              retail point-of-sale, education         concrete (the typical trade show
 Mira V1, it’s a single-user          central server rather than             (K-12), transportation and              aisle). Tatung’s mobile Mira
 server (the home PC). You            upgrading every PC in the              government agencies. The next           should be very attractive to
 won’t ever see Mira referred to      company. Thin clients are              time you’re in a retail chain           consumers who want to use it in
 as a “thin client” by Microsoft,     inherently more secure than            store such as Mattress Dis-             the kitchen or other PC-hostile
 however, since it’s an overly        PCs, since there’s no remov-           counters, check out the “PC-            locations.
 technical term that’s incompat-      able storage.                          like” device on which the
 ible with a friendly, home-              The downside is that thin          salesperson is entering your            TriGem This 8.4” prototype,
 oriented marketing pitch.            clients demand more (or more           sale. Chances are it’s a thin           first shown at WinHEC, is the
    Thin clients are used in          powerful) servers, and they            client, probably one made by            result of new development. It’s a
 enterprise because they re-          tend to generate more network          Wyse Technology, since they             stunner in terms of size and
 duce the Total Cost of Owner-        traffic. Knowledge profession-         have more than 50% of the thin          weight. It’s incredibly thin – only
 ship (TCO) of a computing            als aren’t good prospects for          client market. x                        0.67 inches, and at only 1.4
                                                                                                                     pounds, holding it is effortless.
because it’s a little too early for   several years, and they have a         shown at CeBIT. Multiple photos         TriGem is a Korean ODM in a
some of the OEMs (and Mi-             broad range of products in this        of this prototype are available         joint venture with SOTEC, a
crosoft) to have all the details      category. Developing one or            on the Philips website (see             Japanese computer OEM. As a
nailed down.                          more Miras is a natural and            Table 4 for the URL). The sec-          result, the prototype was la-
                                      obvious direction for them.            ond, a 15” main monitor mock-           beled with the SOTEC brand.
DT Research        This 8.4”                                                 up, was shown at WinHEC. It’s           SOTEC, on the other hand, has
prototype, first shown at CeBIT,      Philips   Philips has shown two        quite elegant in appearance,            been identified by Microsoft as
is based on the existing DT           Mira prototypes, both of which         and quite thin. It would look           only building “Mira-enabled
Research WebDT 380 webpad.            appear to be based on new              great on the coffee table.              PCs” (a Windows XP Pro PC
DT Research has been building         development. The first, a work-                                                with integrated WiFi wireless),
webpads and thin clients for          ing 10.4” mobile monitor, was          Tatung This 10.4” prototype,            not Mira monitors, so it’s un-

 ViewSonic Mira prototype             TriGem Fermata                         Tatung prototype                         Philips Mira prototype

clear who will finally brand this   areas for possible Mira en-         on wired networks, the Winterm        grated, low-cost “super CPU”
really cool product.                hancements in V2 include the        3200LE. Street price of this          called Xileon. It includes both a
                                    ability to use the product away     product as of May 2002 is             300 MHz MIPS CPU (supported
ViewSonic ViewSonic has             from the home (e.g., at a public    around $350. Jeff McNaught            by Windows CE .Net) and a
shown two Mira-related prod-        wireless hotspot), more support     says that his target for the Mira     complete video processor that
ucts. The first, a prototype 15”    for standalone applications,        version of this product is less       handles AV streaming (MPEG-
main monitor, is the poster-child   enhanced audio input and            than $300.                            2), Direct-X/3D graphics, dual
prototype. It was in the initial    improved administration.               If you add the $300 for the        display with picture-in-picture,
Mira announcement at CES, it                                            Mira version of the 3200LE to         TV output, etc. This super-CPU
appears in Microsoft’s Mira         Additional                          the current $400 average street       could be used as the core of a
concept video, and Bill Gates is    Form Factors                        price of a name-brand 15” LCD         Mira V2 device, or of an “AV
holding it in the Mira publicity    Concurrency may change the          monitor, and throw in $50 for a       node” device.
photos. The second product          Mira usage picture substantial-     good keyboard and mouse, the
isn’t a prototype, it’s a real      ly. In addition to enabling the     total is $750. Why not buy a          Summary
product. Called the AirPanel        use of multiple mobile monitors     second PC for the same money?         Mira V1’s primary advantage is
100, it’s a “pre-Mira” wireless     simultaneously anywhere in the      The answer’s the same as              mobility. It extends the use of a
monitor product based on View-      house, it allows additional         above. It depends on what your        home PC to any room, while
Sonic’s current webpad, the         stationary Miras to be located      goals are for home computing,         avoiding the hassles of manag-
ViewPad 100. According to           (for example) in the kids’ bed-     and how much money, time and          ing multiple computers. For
Marc McConnaughey, View-            rooms. Concurrency changes          effort you want to spend man-         some home PC owners, this may
Sonic’s Senior Vice President of    the single-user home PC into a      aging multiple home computers.        be a substantial advantage. The
Advanced Technologies, the          “residential server”, without all      Finally, going one step fur-       primary challenge that
AirPanel 100 was developed to       the complexity of a true server     ther, Microsoft proposes that         Microsoft and the Mira OEMs
explore the concept and estab-      operating system. (The licensing    Mira hardware could be embed-         face is the out-of-box-experi-
lish the legitimacy of the wire-    issue of whether multiple users     ded in a flat-screen TV or in a       ence. Installing and configuring
less monitor. It’s a form of        can share a single copy of an       presentation projector. In both       the WiFi wireless (and possibly
market development. ViewSonic       application on the PC is an         cases, the devices can be             a broadband connection) must
is more aggressive and quicker-     entirely separate issue.) Mi-       considered displays in a differ-      be made foolproof and extreme-
moving than many OEMs; quick-       crosoft has already proposed        ent form-factor. Adding Mira          ly simple. The two main limita-
ly bringing a wireless monitor      two additional Mira form factors    hardware turns them into wire-        tions of Mira V1 are that only
product to market for the know-     that could be argued only make      less displays. This may be a          one Mira can be used at a time,
ledge to be gained from it is       sense with concurrency.             case of technology looking for a      and that it doesn’t support full-
typical of their style.                 The first is called a “remote   problem to solve, but it’s an         motion video or 3D games.
                                    station.” It’s basically a 15"      interesting idea.                     Microsoft intends to eliminate
Wyse Technology This 15”            desktop LCD monitor with the                                              both of these limitations in Mira
prototype, first shown at CeBIT,    Mira hardware integrated inside     Audio-Visual                          V2. Another significant limitation
is based on the existing Wyse       (without a touch screen). Wyse      Streaming                             of Mira V1 is that it requires XP
3630LE Winterm (Windows-            already makes a very similar        The second major enhancement          Professional on the PC; Mi-
based terminal). Unlike any of      product designed for use on         in Mira V2 is audio-visual (AV)       crosoft is working on ways of
the other prototypes, this one is   wired networks, the Winterm         streaming. This is the ability to     reducing the cost impact of
non-mobile. It’s in a form factor   3630LE. Street price of this        view full-motion video and listen     upgrading from XP Home. Mira
that hasn’t been mentioned so       product as of May 2002 is           to high-quality audio on the          will cost between $500 and
far in this article – Microsoft     around $1,150. Jeff McNaught,       Mira, as well as play 3D games.       $800, with mobile monitors (8.4"
calls it a “remote station.”        Vice-President of Market Strat-     AV streaming is a fundamental         and 10.4") at the lower end and
                                    egy at Wyse Technology, says        part of Microsoft’s Connected         main monitors (15") at the upper
Mira Version 2 (V2)                 that his target for the Mira        Home vision (see the “Connect-        end. Overall, Mira V1 is a good
Mira V2 is targeted to include      version of this product is less     ed Home” sidebar for more             start on a multi-year develop-
concurrency (multiple simulta-      than $1,000.                        information). Adding AV stream-       ment program. Unless the con-
neous users) and streaming AV           The second proposed form        ing to a Mira generally means         cept totally bombs in 2002, we
(audio-visual) support. Accord-     factor is called a “remote termi-   adding an MPEG decoder chip           can look forward to increasingly
ing to Aubrey Edwards, Mi-          nal.” This is simply the Mira       (DSP), which adds cost.               capable new Miras every
crosoft’s desire is to ship a new   hardware in a small box with no        Alternatively, instead of          Christmas. x
version of Mira every year in       display and no battery. It’s        adding another chip, it’s possi-          Based in Silicon Valley, Geoff Walker
                                                                                                              is a consultant with Walker Mobile, LLC.
time for Christmas. However,        meant to be used with new or        ble to include support for AV         Geoff has worked on the engineering and
Microsoft never commits to a V2     existing monitors and               streaming in a new CPU. At            marketing of pen computers since 1989
date until V1 is out the door, so   keyboards. Again Wyse Tech-         WinHEC, ATI (one of the two top       at GRiD Systems, Fujitsu Personal
                                                                                                              Systems (now Fujitsu PC) and Hand-
it is unknown if the 2003 Mira      nology already makes a very         vendors of video controllers)         spring. He can be contacted at
will be V1.5 or V2. Some other      similar product designed for use    announced a new, highly inte-         geoff.walker@att.net.

                    www.pencomputing.com                                  M I R A                           July      2002

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