Thomson Introduces First RCA-Branded Consumer Telecom Product
By Greg Scoblete On Dec 6 2004 - 8:00am
Thomson's telecom division Atlinks announced its first RCA-branded consumer telecom product: a cellular/landline cordless expandable phone system.
The RCA cellphone docking station, model 23200, is a 2.4GHz digital multihandset system with a cradle for docking cellular phones. It's targeted toward the approximately 70 percent of consumers that own a cellphone.
The box ships with a cordless handset and three cellular connection cables compatible with roughly 25 percent of existing cellphones on the market, including Motorola, LG and Samsung, said Lisa Castor, VP, North American operations, Atlinks.
Other cables will be added as stand-alone accessory packages in the future to cast a wider compatibility net. The dock also has a USB connection to support future cellphone models.
The docking station is placed in a room that receives the clearest cellular reception, while the specially designed 2.4GHz digital handset(s) used to make or answer cell calls can be located anywhere in the home.
The system, which will retail for a suggested $149.99, is expandable to a total of three handsets, a suggested $59.99 each.
Existing cellular/landline docking systems were simply cradles for mobile phones, Castor said. They required a connection to an existing home phone and could not automatically alternate between cell and landline networks unless the user had a two-line phone.
By packaging the dock with a multihandset, two-line cordless system, Thomson sought to provide a total solution out of the box, Castor added.
The challenge, Castor said, was the proliferation and differentiation of cellular platforms.
“We wanted 50 percent compatibility out of the box, but we realized that would be too expensive,” she said.
Once docked, the mobile phone's battery is recharged, and users can place calls using their cellular or landline network and the included cordless handset. Separate buttons on the handset allow users to switch between networks. The unit also features distinct ringtones to differentiate incoming cellular calls from landline calls.
Caller ID information from the cellphone is automatically transferred and displayed onto the handset's LCD. The LCD on the handset also features a call timer to track cell minutes used when calling over a cellular network.
The system can also support two users at the same time — one person is able to make or receive a landline telephone call while another is on a cellular call.
The phone is Thomson's first consumer telephony product to sport the RCA brand; previous RCA telecommunications introductions in April were geared toward the SO/HO market. According to Castor, Atlinks will use the RCA brand, which it owns, “strategically” to introduce new technologies and grow Thomson's telecom business “outside our core cordless line.”
Atlinks licenses the GE brand, which it uses for a full line of mass market home phones, and the commitment to the GE brand is still “very strong” Castor said. It is possible that Thomson will offer a GE-branded version of the cellular docking station “if our dealers want it,” Castor noted.