By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Suppliers of residential and SoHo phones will hit the CES floor with the industry's first 5.8GHz phones, USB-equipped phones that place Internet phone calls through connected PCs, Bluetooth-equipped phones, and expandable systems that can accommodate up to seven cordless handsets.
Dealers will also find docking stations that let consumers use home-phone handsets to place calls through their cellular service to take advantage of free cellular airtime minutes.
Besides finding new products, dealers will find at least one new brand (Memorex) and one resurrected brand (PhoneMate) despite the recently announced plans by Sony, Toshiba and Casio to leave the flagging market. Industry wide, retail-level dollar sales fell 5.7 percent during the first three quarters of 2001 on a 1 percent unit-sales gain, NPD Intelect figures show.
Here's what you'll find:
Conair: The SW9270 personal organizer/phone ships in April at a suggested $29.95. It stores up to 300 names, addresses and phone numbers and can plug into a phone jack to make phone calls. The unit comes with a headset to make calls and a touchscreen to hand-dial numbers, although numbers can be dialed through the address book.
KNG America: For the kids, KNG will launch cartoon cordless phones, all 900MHz analog models expected to ship in September for a suggested $99.
The phones move and include the following characters: Bugs Bunny, Goofy, Mickey & Friends, Mickey Mouse, and Tweety Bird.
Memcorp: Memorex-brand products shipping this month include three Memorex Docking Stations. By placing a cell phone into a docking station/recharger, users can send and receive calls over their cell phone through a station's supplied corded or cordless handset. The unit accommodates most Motorola and Nokia cellular phones. A switch on the base allows users to switch between landline and cell outbound calls.
The MCD900DS docking station is a 900MHz DSS phone at a suggested $129. The MCD2400DS is a 2.4GHz DSS phone at a suggested $149. The MCD200DS uses a corded phone at a suggested $89.
Memorex will also announce three expandable phone systems with Bluetooth functionality. All are 2.4GHz DSS models expandable to seven handsets. Each handset comes with USB port to connect to a PC to make Internet phone calls. Alternately, consumers can connect to a Bluetooth PC through the system's Bluetooth-equipped base stations.
The expandable systems are the opening-price HS4200BT at a suggested $99, the MCD4300BT ($119) with caller ID on the handset, and the MCD4500BT ($149) with caller ID and digital answerer.
Also: 900MHz analog and 2.4GHz analog phones. Details were not available.
Panasonic: An expanded 2.4GHz DSS 2700 series of single- and multi-line multi-handset phones. All are expandable up to seven handsets.
All come with speaker phone on the base unit, headset jacks, and caller ID. All handsets have a built in speakerphone and three-line LCD for caller ID. The system allows for handset-to-handset intercom functions. All units ship with one handset.
The single-line KX-TG2700 at a suggested $139 is the opening-price model. The KX-TG2730 adds digital answerer at $159. The opening-price two-line unit is the $169 TG2720, and the TG2740 adds digital answering at $199. All ship this month. Add-on handsets include a $99 model with alarm clock built into the charging cradle.
Southwestern Bell: The company will add the GH4010 2.4GHz DSS cordless phone. It ships in June with a base station and two handsets with charging cradles at a suggested $149.99. The unit supports up to four handsets.
Polyconcept: Mr. Phone, due in July at a suggested $199.95, is a corded phone shaped like a robot. It talks, moves its head, blinks its LED eyes, and responds to users voice commands. Mr. Phone's mouth moves in sync with a caller's voice.
The product has a built-in address book of 50 names whose numbers can be voice-dialed by name.
TT Systems: The company bought the PhoneMate brand in late October from Casio, which exited the phone market. TT's first three PhoneMate phones, all 2.4GHz analog models, will replace TT's IBM-branded phones now that IBM stopped licensing the name. They're priced from a suggested $89.95-$129.95.
Thomson/Atlinks: Under the GE brand, Thomson will expand its 2.4GHz analog line with six new models at a suggested $49.99-$99.99.
The opening-price 27930GE3 features call waiting/caller ID and ships this month at $49.99.
At the top, the 27939GE3 features speakerphone, dual keypad, digital answering machine, and dual caller ID at $99.99. It ships this month with three-line backlit LCD on the base station and handset, two way pager, and intercom.
Uniden: Besides its 5.8GHz phone, the company will highlight the DKP TRU4485, an addition to its line of 2.4GHz DSS phones. It supports two handsets. A new feature is caller ID/call waiting while the phone is in use, enabling users to search their phone's memory for past caller ID info while on another call. The phone ships in Q3 at a $149.
Vialta: Details are sketchy, but a yet-to-be named video phone delivers full-motion color video and telephone quality audio over a standard analog phone line. It is expected to ship in the spring.
VTech: The VT20-2481, shipping in April, is a 2.4GHz DSS multi-handset system expandable up to a total of four handsets. It is a two-line phone with a digital answering machine, base keypad and handset speakerphone. It will retail for a suggested $199.
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.