Samsung introduces WiMax mobile internet device

Touch-screen, pocket-size device will ship in second quarter

Samsung's Mondi sports a 4.3-in. touch screen.

Samsung's Mondi sports a 4.3-in. touch screen.

Samsung Telecommunications America announced the first WiMax-enabled Mobile Internet Device (MID) today at the International CTIA Wireless conference.

Called the Mondi, the touch-screen, pocket-size device is designed for use on the Clear mobile WiMax network from Clearwire, Samsung officials announced on Tuesday evening. Mondi derives its name from the Latin word for "world."

No price was announced, but it will be available at Best Buy and Clear stores, as well as Samsung's online store sometime in the second quarter, Samsung officials said. The black-slider form factor of the Mondi device extends horizontally to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard and an optical mouse. It runs the Opera 9.5 Web browser and has a 4.3-in. touch screen.

The Mondi runs on the Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system. In addition to WiMax, it connects to Wi-Fi, as well as GPS and Bluetooth 2.0. It has a 3.0-megapixel camera and camcorder, and comes with 4GB of internal memory. Other specifications were not released.

"The Mondi provides the power of a laptop but easily fits in the hand or a pocket," said Omar Khan, senior vice president of strategy and product management at Samsung.

Clearwire now operates mobile WiMax service in Portland, Ore., and Baltimore and expects to launch in 80 markets by 2010.

Khan said Samsung supports WiMax networks globally and felt the need to build a WiMax product even though the capabilities of Clear in the U.S. are still in an early stage.

"We do believe it's important to support WiMax to take advantage of 4G speeds," Khan said. "Everything starts at a nascent stage, and the Mondi is our first [device] to support that."

He said the Mondi was not a phone, and does not provide voice services. However, Khan left open the possibility of future voice support in the Mondi or other products, saying that Samsung's road map provides for dual-network mode capability with WiMax and other networks he did not name.

Khan said that Samsung was "on track" to provide Android devices in the second half of the year.

And regarding LTE, a future competitor to WiMax, he said Samsung was cooperating with LTE carriers on trials of that technology. "We are committed to being a leader in both WiMax and LTE," Khan said.

Asked whether Samsung devices would run Windows applications across other operating systems, Khan said Samsung was releasing a software developer kit next month as part of its Samsung Mobile Innovator Program to foster creation of widgets that would allow Windows to run on Android or Symbian.

Under that strategy, the browser in the device will run applications and not the operating system, he said.

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