By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Danger unveiled a second-generation hiptop smartphone that it has upgraded to include integrated digital camera, speakerphone and new messaging functions in a smaller package.
Designated by Danger as the hiptop2, the device will be available in the fall as the Sidekick II from carrier T-Mobile, which will sell it through its direct channels and through select national retailers. Pricing wasn’t announced.
AT&T Wireless affiliates Edge Wireless and SunCom offer the current-generation model and are expected to offer the new version.
The hiptop2 will replace the original hiptop, made available in late 2002 and later upgraded to feature a color screen. It features snap-on camera attachment and usually sells for about $199, although it has appeared at $49 on Amazon.
Like its predecessor, the GSM/GPRS hiptop2 offers a QWERTY keyboard, swivel-open color screen, PIM functions, HTML Web browsing, e-mail redirection from up to three POP3/IMAP4 e-mail accounts, AOL Instant Messenger (IM) service, AOL e-mail and downloadable games. New features include downloadable Yahoo! IM software; photo caller ID; and software that enables over-the-air two-way synchronization of the hiptop’s calendar, contact and to-do applications with a desktop PC’s Microsoft Outlook applications. Like before, users also import contacts, calendar entries and to-dos from Outlook through the Web.
E-mail redirection, IM, Web browsing and game downloads are offered by the carrier through Danger’s hosted service.
The new device also adds adaptive multirate (AMR) voice codec, which improves voice quality and yields fewer dropped calls. AMR dynamically allocates bandwidth to voice or error control depending on the RF environment. That allows conversations to continue under adverse radio conditions, such as heavily loaded networks. AMR also improves voice quality at the edges of cell sites and inside buildings.
The new 6.2-ounce device is 25 percent smaller than its predecessor at 5.1-inches by 2.6-inches by 0.9-inches inches, but it extends talk time by 33 percent to 4.5 hours. Its 13-line, 3.3-inch color screen displays Microsoft Office and PDF attachments as plain text built into a message.
New controls are said to make the device simpler to use. An external shutter button, for example, lets users take pictures with the screen closed. Also new: external volume and power buttons, external buttons that can be user-programmed for one-click access to applications, and an external directional pad that can be used for gaming and other applications with the display closed.
The device also adds a dial pad overlay on the device keyboard to simplify dialing versus using the number buttons on a QWERTY keyboard. Like before, dialing can also be accomplished with the device by using the thumbwheel and two buttons to scroll through phone book entries.
The thinner form factor and improved placement of the device’s speaker and microphone deliver improved ear coupling and phone comfort.
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