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BERLIN, GERMANY, Newsbytes : Nokia has taken the wraps off a prototype device called the MediaScreen. The device is billed as a combination of a TV, Internet access system, and a mobile phone.
The MediaScreen device bears more than a passing similarity to the WebPad technology shown in mockups at various shows last year. In a nutshell, the device is designed to offer digital TV pictures (and sound) to users, along with integrated Web pages and full access to the Internet as required.
As if this wasn't enough, the MediaScreen also allows users to make mobile network phone calls, access their e-mail and listen to the radio.
Unveiling the prototype at the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) show in Berlin this afternoon, officials with Nokia Multimedia Terminals (NMT) - the Nokia division that developed the technology - said that the MediaScreen is unique in the industry.
The centerpiece of the device is the ability to receive digital terrestrial TV transmissions while on the move, while adding other interactive mobile functions dependent on the availability of the relevant networks.
Showing off his division's new product, Dr. Helmut Stein, NMT's senior vice president, told journalists that the device was the end result of Nokia's aim of making the Internet available to anyone, anywhere.
MediaScreen, he said, complements the use of telecommunications channels with broadband digital TV channels for transfer of data in the home or office.
The device, he said, is the result of a joint development program between NMT, Deutsche Telekom and ZDF, the German broadcaster. Known by its code name of [email protected] (Digital Video Broadcast over the air), the system has tapped ZDF for its digitext service.
Digitext is a ZDF multimedia data service that translates Web pages (in hypertext markup language - HTML - format) into a format suitable for transmission alongside digital TV pages using digital teletext- style pages.
As well as carrying an Electronic Program Guide (EPG) and other TV channel information, digitext forms an element of ZDF's ZDF.mobil plans - the transmission of digital TV signals for mobile reception.
ZDF says it already has its ZDF.mobil MediaScreen-compliant network up and running in and around Berlin, using digital TV transmissions and Deutsche Telekom's D1 GSM (global system for mobile communications) 900 cellular network.
At the IFA show, Nokia showed off prototypes of a standalone MediaScreen terminal, about the size of a laptop PC, as well as the system integrated in a car, thanks to a linkup with Volkswagen.
Despite the obvious publicity, Nokia remains coy on timescales for its MediaScreen technology. Sources suggest, however, that the product could be a commercially available device by the spring of 2000.
Nokia's Web site is at http://www.nokia.com .
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