By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
National Cellular, the wireless handset and accessories distributor, has launched a series of SignalReach products that will entice subscribers to use their wireless phones more often.
They include the company's first dual-band car kits that amplify a handheld phone's 800MHz and 1,900MHz output to a maximum 3 watts, improving reception in rural areas and urban areas where signals could be weakened by multiple high-rise buildings. They're available in installed and transportable versions.
NCI's previous dual-band kits amplified 800MHz signals and passed through the 1,900MHz signals without amplification, like most other dual-band kits on the market.
The two 800/1,900MHz kits, the transportable TotalPower 200 and SA200 installed version, are designed for TDMA, CDMA and GSM phones. Two other kits, the TotalPower 300 and installed SA300, are the company's first amplifier kits designed for iDEN phones on the Nextel network. It works with most iDEN phones.
The transportable versions are amplifier-in-a-bag systems that plug into a car's cigarette lighter and connect to optional external antennas and hands-free kits.
Another product is the company's first universal desktop docking/charging station with home-phone-style corded handset. It lets subscribers use their cellular service at home or in the office as a landline replacement.
The station, called the DS100 Cellular Desktop Station, accepts optional phone-specific cradles for plugging in popular cellular phones. The station also features a connection for an optional outside antenna and a connection for an optional 3-watt power amplifier, both intended to improve signal strength in weak-signal areas.
NCI previously marketed docking stations designed for specific handset models. The new system costs a suggested $99 for the station and $49 for the phone-specific cradle.
As for the dual-band car kits, NCI said they work with most TDMA, CDMA and GSM phones from 12 major suppliers and the system is one of very few that amplifies signals in both U.S. cellular bands, said NCI executive director Nelson Roberts. Most dual-band products "amplify 850MHz and do a 1,900MHz passthrough, or just route the 1,900MHz signal to the antenna without amplification hoping that the gain of the external antenna will help range, and in most cases it does, but not to the degree that amplification does," he explained.
The iDEN kits might have only one competitor on the market, the company added. The suggested retails are $309 for the installed version and $349 for the transportable version.
The suggested retail of the dual-band kits are $349 for the installed version and $399 for the transportable version.
Other companies marketing in-car amplifier kits include Smooth Talker, Digital Antenna and Wilson Electronics.
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