By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
The wireless industry opened up to open networks, new spectrum, new mobile-device vendors and new user interfaces here at CTIA 2008.
For use on open networks such as Sprint's Xohm Mobile-WiMAX network, Nokia turned up with a WiMAX-embedded Internet tablet and Motorola demonstrated a WiMAX PC card in tablet PCs. And two companies teamed up here to demonstrate the reference design of a Mobile-WiMAX phone.
To open up GSM networks to phones not sold by the network's operator, a growing number of suppliers targeted the unlocked-GSM market. Those vendors included Neonode, Clarity and Velocity Mobile, and they joined unlocked-phone suppliers Epoq and i-Mate here at the show.
Newcomers to the U.S handset market included Neonode, Windows Mobile-focused Velocity Mobile and Clarity, which targeted the senior citizen market.
As the U.S. opens up to new cellular spectrum, vendors such as Samsung, UTStarcom and ZTE showed their first phones operating on Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum. And in opening up to new designs, suppliers such as Neonode and Samsung showed more touchscreen-equipped feature phones.
Also at the show, attendees found:
one of the first PDA phones using the Windows Mobile 6.1 OS — it's from HTC;
some of the first W-CDMA high-speed packet access (HSPA) phones, which combine HSDPA for high-speed downlinks and HSUPA for high-speed uplinks — they're from Velocity Mobile and i-mate;
the first CDMA 1x EV-DO Rev. A phone from Samsung, which is one of the company's first touchscreen-equipped phones with localized haptic feedback;
new MediaFLO-equipped phones, one each from Samsung and LG, for AT&T Mobile TV service launching in May;
downloadable software that enables any BlackBerry on any network to stream 20 music and comedy channels from the XM Radio Mobile service at $7.99/month — it's from QuickPlay Media;
femtocells from such companies as Motorola and AirWalk — these tiny cellular base stations for the home are designed to improve reception and replace landline service within the home; and
plenty of LTE infrastructure intended to enable commercial availability of the high-speed service to consumers as early as 2010 in the United States.
Companies unveiling new products in some of these segments included the following:
HTC: The company brought its Touch Dual PDA phone to the United States from Europe for spring availability through a major national retailer and HTC's Web site. It will be among the industry's first phones to incorporate the Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional OS, which will also be available as an upgrade to the company's other PDA phones beginning in the spring.
The Dual Touch features a touchscreen with proprietary TouchFLO motion user interface, which allows for finger-touch scrolling and browsing of documents, Web pages, photos and contact lists, as well as panning, and zooming. The worldphone also features slide-down dialing keypad and virtual QWERTY keyboard.
The device is a quadband GSM/EDGE model that also operates in W-CDMA HSDPA mode in the U.S. 850/1,900MHz bands. Other features include a 2.6-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth 2.0, microSD slot, five-hour talktime on standard battery, 2-megapixel camera, HTC time and weather display, and multiple messaging options, including Microsoft Direct Push enterprise email.
LG: LG's second-generation dual-face clamshell env, called the env, is a little smaller than its predecessor but sports a slightly larger internal display. Intended for Verizon's 850/1,900MHz CDMA 1x EV-DO network, it features dialing keypad on its front face, but the handset opens horizontally to reveal a QWERTY keyboard and 2.4-inch internal display. Pricing wasn't available at press time, but Verizon has been offering the original env for $149 with two-year contract.
Size drops to 4 inches by 2.12 inches by 0.65 inches from 4.6 by 2.1 by 0.8, with weight dropping to 4.23 ounces from 4.6 ounces and internal screen size growing to 2.4 inches. Dialing keys are slightly larger than before. Carryover features include 2-megapixel camera, music and video player, Verizon V CAST music and video services, and Verizon VZ Navigator service.
It's available in black or maroon.
Nokia: The company is launching a WiMAX-equipped versions of its Wi-Fi-equipped N810 Internet tablet, which continues to incorporate Wi-Fi and will hand off seamlessly from Wi-Fi to Sprint's 2.5GHz XOHM Mobile-WiMAX network during an Internet session.
It's due in the summer at a price that wasn't available at press time. The Wi-Fi-only version retails for about $479.
The Linux-based device, like its Wi-Fi version, offers a 4.12-inch wide touchscreen with virtual keyboard, slide-out QWERTY keyboard, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g and Web 2.0-compatible Mozilla-based browser with Flash9 playback. It also features Skype internet calling, access to the Rhapsody and Yahoo!Music streaming audio services, instant-messaging services, integrated VGA Web camera, embedded stereo speakers, Bluetooth for accessing the Web via cellphone, music and video player, 2GB embedded memory and slots for miniSD and microSD cards, including SDHC cards up to 8GB.
It also features GPS, built-in maps for turn-by-turn route guidance and optional Nokia-offered Wayfinder service, which for $129/year adds voice guidance to the unit's turn-by-turn route guidance for car, pedestrian and bicycle routes.
Novatel: The company unveiled its two latest USB wireless-data modems incorporating W-CDMA HSPA technology. The Ovation series models will be the company's first to support Category 6 HSUPA upload speeds of a theoretical 5.76 Mbps when a firmware upgrade is available in the third quarter. They're also the company's first HSPA USB models with microSD card slot. For now, they support 7.2Mbps HSDPA downloads and 2.1Mbps HSPA uploads.
They'll be available in the third quarter through tier-one carriers.
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.