By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Like Lucy Ricardo, cellular retailers have more explaining to do, thanks to the launch of new handsets that include the first 3.2-megapixel camera phone available to U.S. consumers, more phones that download music over the air, and still another thin phone to compete with the Motorola RAZR.
Other talking points include the first rugged iDEN-network phone with embedded camera and an hourglass-shaped phone from Kyocera.
Through Verizon Wireless, Samsung launched the first 3.2-megapixel camera phone available to U.S. consumers. The Samsung SCH-a990 at $349, after $50 rebate and two-year contract, is one of the industry's few phones with a TV output to display still images and up to an hour of stored video on a connected TV screen. Its 180-degree swiveling screen enables it to be held like a digital camera.
The CDMA 1x EV-DO phone offers Verizon's V CAST service, allowing for streaming video and over-the-air music downloads. With those capabilities on Verizon's high-speed CDMA 1x EV-DO data network, said Samsung senior VP Peter Skarzynski, the phone represents the “first time a multimedia phone is fully integrated with a high-resolution camera in the U.S.”
For the U.S. market, phones with 2-, 3.2-, and 4-megapixel capability have been announced by other suppliers. A 3.2-megapixel SonyEricsson K790 Cyber-shot phone, a GSM model with high-speed EDGE data technology, was announced earlier this year but won't be available in the United States until fall, SonyEricsson said.
The U.S. market's sole 4-megapixel model, the VK Mobile VK2200, features slower speed GSM/GPRS wireless-data technology and isn't available yet to consumers.
Samsung's new SCH-a990 also supports Verizon Wireless' VZ Navigator service, which delivers audible turn-by-turn navigation instructions. It also connects to PictBridge-enabled printers and Bluetooth devices, including printers.
Another music-downloading phone is LG's clamshell VX8300, available through Verizon Wireless for $99 with two-year contract. Like its predecessors, the CDMA 1x EV-DO phone offers V CAST service. Like before, it features Bluetooth and memory card slot. Unlike its predecessor, it's slimmer at 3.5 inches by 1.9 inches by 0.9 inches, uses a smaller MicroSD card instead of MiniSD cards, and features external display that uses an OLED LCD. Other features include dual speakers and 1.3-megapixel camera.
For folks wanting slimmer models, Sanyo launched its competitor to the thin Motorola RAZR through Sprint PCS, which is offering Sanyo's CDMA 1x Katana, named after a type of sword used by Samurai. The clamshell Katana is available in four colors at $79.99 after rebates and two-year contract. Available in four colors, the Katana sports VGA camera and lacks high-speed EV-DO data technology.
The 3.5-ounce clamshell Katana measures 3.9 inches by 2 inches by 0.6 inches, similar to the 3.86 inches by 2.08 inches by 0.55 inches of the 3.35-ounce GSM-network RAZR available through T-Mobile, the 3.8 inches by 2.0 inches by 0.5 inches of the 3.49-ounce CDMA 1x EV-DO RAZR from Verizon, and the 3.9-ounce Samsung a900 (formerly called the Blade), which measures 3.8 inches by 2.0 inches by 0.5 inches and is available through Sprint.
Compared to the Katana's thin and flat shape, the Kyocera Strobe is stout and curved at 4.2 inches by 2 inches by 0.9 inches. It sports an hourglass figure and loop antenna on top, and it folds open to reveal a QWERTY keypad. It also features a VGA camera, built-in speakerphone, Bluetooth and ability to download BEW-platform applications.
Katana is available through Alltell at $49.99 after rebate to new subscribers. It's also available through MVNO Virgin Mobile, which calls it the Switchback.
Separately, Motorola introduced the Motorola i580 through Sprint Nextel. The clamshell model is the industry's only rugged iDEN-network phone to sport an embedded camera, which offers 1.3-megapixel resolution. The i580 is the first rugged iDEN clam phone designed to meet military specification 810 F for rain resistance, dust, shock and vibration, according to the companies.
The i580, available starting at $279.99 after all available discounts and promotions, also features MP3 playback, dual front speakers, and access to server-based GPS applications offering turn-by-turn navigation instructions.
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