By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Blending a cordless phone, Internet device and digital frame in one, AT&T is hoping to inject some excitement into the moribund home-phone category.
The HomeManager communications system, manufactured by Samsung, features a portable 7-inch touchscreen frame that doubles as a speakerphone. Through the frame, consumers can access visual voicemails, phone directories, weather, their email and news. Consumers can use the touchscreen to make calls or use an included cordless handset (the system can add additional handsets).
The touchscreen unit can serve as a photo frame, with slots for SD cards or USB drives. Photos can be viewed in slideshows or used as screensavers.
A base station connects to a broadband Internet connection and communicates with the touchscreen and handset via Wi-Fi.
The phone can be used with a traditional wireline service or a VoIP line.
HomeManager can be synchronized with AT&T mobile phone contacts and is compatible with AT&T's U-verse voice and unified messaging platforms.
The HomeManager will retail for $299 and must be bundled with a two-year high-speed Internet contract or AT&T's U-verse triple play.
It is available this month through AT&T retail locations in nine markets — Chicago; Atlanta; San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Austin, Texas; and in San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles.
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