By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Cordless suppliers will throw their arms around DECT 6.0 technology in 2007, hoping the not-so-new "interference-free" frequency will shore up the higher price points vacated by 5.8GHz models and inject some new styles onto store shelves.
While DECT models trickled into the U.S. market last year, 2007 will see a major expansion, with most of the top brands debuting a full line-up of DECT phones at the show.
American Telecom Services will roll out DECT technology for all of its new 2007 models. In its Pay N' Talk line of home phones with prepaid landline long distance minutes from IDT, the company will introduce a lineup of phones that offer caller ID and what the company dubs its "money-saving green button" for accessing the Pay N' Talk prepaid long-distance platform.
Each phone will be sold in a variety of combinations featuring either the master unit, an additional handset or multi-handset bundles, with prices ranging from a suggested $19.99 to $79.99. The phones will ship in the first quarter.
The entry-level RA223 offers three-way conferencing, handset call transfer and four ringtones.
The PA224 builds off the RA223 with a 50-number phonebook, 20-number caller ID log and a 10-number redial.
The company will also offer a series of phones with similar features but different styling — the RA 227, 228, and 229 and the UA 233 and 235 will all feature caller ID, handset speakerphones, handset intercoms, 40 number phone book, 20 number caller ID log and 12 ringtones.
Two step-up models, the RA 230 and RA 236, offer the same features plus an integrated digital answering device (ITAD).
Thomson will broaden its line of GE-branded DECT phones with new introductions in the second and third quarters of 2007.
It will refresh its cellular-to-landline conversion phone, trading a physical connection for a Bluetooth link. Thomson will also use the GE brand for the conversion product, replacing the RCA branding it had used on its first generation model. Going forward, Thomson plans to use the RCA brand for office and business-related communications products, a spokesperson said.
The GE 28128EE2 can pair with up to two Bluetooth cellphones for placing cellular calls using the phone's handset. The 28128EE2 will ship with PC software for downloading ringtones, managing contacts and a calendar. It will also include push-to-talk technology for handset-to-handset walkie talkie functionality.
The handsets also include a speakerphone and the unit offers battery backup. It will ship in the second quarter for a suggested $179. Thomson will also ship a GE-branded Bluetooth headset for use with its Bluetooth-enabled DECT phones. It offers three hours of talktime and will retail for $29.99.
The company will introduce several new conventional DECT product lines. The "ultra-slim" series will include two models, all 0.54 inches thick and expandable to a total of six handsets. The 28115EE1, for a suggested $59.99, offers call waiting/caller ID, a blue back-lit LCD screen, melody ringtones and illuminated buttons. The 28118EE1 ($69.99) will add an ITAD for $69.99. The series' accessory handset (28106EE1) will retail for $49.99.
A "full featured" model will come with software for downloading ringtones and managing contacts. It can sync with Microsoft Outlook, is expandable up to seven handsets and features call waiting/caller ID, a back-lit LCD screen, illuminated buttons and battery backup. The handsets offer speakerphones and push-to-talk functionality. A dual handset SKU will retail for a suggested $149; a single handset package will retail for $99.99.
A "design" series aims to blend in with stainless steel kitchen appliances. The $69.99 phone (27909EE1) packs caller ID, an ITAD, base speakerphone, a back-lit LCD screen, illuminated buttons and an integrated DSL filter.
A $69.99 "ease of use" phone for older consumers will sport oversized, back-lit buttons and an enlarged LCD for easier-to-read caller ID, alongside a visual ringer and message playback speed control. It offers an audio boost and an oversized ear seal to help keep conservations intelligible. It is expandable up to seven handsets.
In addition to the new models, the company's line of first generation DECT products introduced last year will be available in several new SKUs, offering single, double, and triple handset bundles. Pricing was not announced.
Philips will ship the new ID9371 in the second quarter for a suggested $179. The phone features a SIM card reader for copying mobile phone contacts onto the handset. It will offer caller ID, a 15-minute ITAD, a color display, a built-in alarm clock, 250 entry phone book and is expandable up to six handsets.
Uniden will display two DECT models it debuted in 2006, the 1060-2 and the 1080-2. The company plans to introduce new DECT phones in the third quarter of 2007.
All of VTech's new DECT phones will ship in April. They will offer a new "any key" answer feature that lets users pick up a call by pressing any of the handset's buttons.
The entry rz6031 offers caller ID and will retail for a suggested $49.95.
The rz6032 ($59.95) will feature caller ID/call waiting, a 15-minute ITAD, handset speakerphone, 50 entry phonebook, a blue backlit display, and remote message retrieval. It is expandable to up to five handsets. A two-handset SKU (rz6042) will retail for $89.95, while a three-handset version will retail for $99.95.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.