By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
New cellphones are sporting names that are as flashy as their shapes and features.
The cellular industry is increasingly shunning the CE's industry practice of using letters and numbers to designate a specific model. Instead, cellphone suppliers and carriers are using names more than ever before to designate hot models.
Verizon Wireless, for example, rolled out the Samsung Gleam following its announcement that it will expand its selection of music phones and smartphones in the fourth quarter with the BlackBerry Pearl and LG Voyager smartphones and the Samsung Juke and LG Venus music phones.
For its part, Sprint Nextel has added the BlackBerry Pearl to its smartphone lineup as well as the QWERTY-keyboard-equipped Rumor from LG. AT&T has added the Tilt PDA phone from HTC.
Some suppliers and carriers, however, continue to take the traditional route. Motorola recently unveiled seven new W series phones with such model numbers as W175 and W377. SonyEricsson unveiled a new Walkman-brand phone dubbed the W5801. And Boost Mobile unveiled the Motorola i425t and i425e walkie-talkie phones.
Here's what carriers and suppliers announced in recent days:
AT&T: HTC's Tilt PDA phone, based on the Microsoft Windows Mobile 6 Professional OS, features a 2.8-inch color screen that slides back to reveal a QWERTY keyboard, then tilts up at an angle so the device takes on the shape of a mini laptop.
The world phone is available at $299 with two-year contract and mail-in rebate and operates on W-CDMA high speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) networks in and outside the United States. It also operates in 802.11b/g networks
The Tilt is the first Windows Mobile device in North America to include BlackBerry Connect software, which provides BlackBerry email service for IT administrators. It also delivers wireless synchronization of email, calendar, contacts, task list and memo pad information.
Consumers can get their personal email through AT&T's Xpress Mail service, which pushes email from most major POP3/IMAP personal email services,
The device accepts microSD cards up to 32GB and features stereo Bluetooth; AT&T's highest resolution camera at 3 megapixels; and access to AT&T's music, video services and GPS navigation services. It's available at AT&T-brand stores, AT&T's Web site, select national retailers and AT&T's business-to-business sales organizations.
SonyEricsson's newest Walkman phone, the quadband GSM/EDGE W580i, is the first Walkman-brand slider phone. The 0.5-inch-thick device retails for $79 to $129, depending on the AT&T region, with two-year contract. It's also available to regional carriers and through online outlets such as SonyStyle.com.
It's the industry's first music phone with shake control, which lets users skip songs with a quick flick of the wrist, jumping to a random song in shuffle mode or jumping to the next song in an existing play list. It also features a pedometer, stopwatch and calorie counter.
Boost Mobile: The Sprint division launched its two thinnest walkie-talkie phones, the Motorola i425t and i425e candybar models at less than a half-inch-thick. Both feature Web browsing, support for multiple instant messaging services and playback of Java games and applications.
The phones differ only in color and use Boost's iDEN network, not the Sprint CDMA network. They're priced at $39.99 with included $5 call credit.
Sprint: The LG Rumor, available Oct. 21 at $79.99 with two-year contract, is intended for serious message senders. It's a horizontal slider with QWERTY keypad, embedded instant-messaging services, access to multiple email accounts through Sprint Mobile eMail service, and access to social-network sites such as Facebook and Xanga.
It also features 1.3-megapixel camera, microSD slot and access to all Sprint's video and GPS navigation services. It stores music side-loaded from a PC but not downloaded over the air.
It became available in two colors in Best Buy on Oct. 21 and will be available through Sprint-owned stores on Nov. 4.
The BlackBerry Pearl 8130 is the industry's first Pearl to incorporate CDMA 1x EV-DO high-speed data technology and Sprint's first BlackBerry to support all of Sprint's music and video services, including over-the-air music downloads. The dialing keypad doubles as a QWERTY keyboard. It features BlackBerry push technology to deliver email from up to 10 business or personal email accounts. It also features 2-megapixel camera, microSD slot and stereo Bluetooth.
Verizon Wireless: The BlackBerry Pearl 8130, LG Voyager, Samsung Juke and LG Venus were to be available before Thanksgiving at prices to be announced. All feature CDMA 1x EV-DO high-speed data technology.
LG's Voyager is Verizon's first phone with large external touchscreen, but it also opens laterally to reveal a full QWERTY keypad. Other features include MediaFLO TV reception; HTML browser; over-the-air music downloads; microSD card slot; and playback of MP3, WMA and unprotected AAC files.
The Juke features 2GB embedded memory and Bluetooth stereo, as well as playback of MP3, WMA and unprotected AAC music files. A rotating front cover swivels 180 degrees to reveal the dialing keypad. It will be available in blue, red and teal at launch.
LG's Venus, a slider available in black or pink, is a music-centric phone with dedicated music key and two front screens, one of which features touch input and vibration feedback to access phone features. It comes with memory card slot for microSD cards. It also accesses V CAST Video and Music services, including over-the-air music downloads. The music player supports MP3, WMA and unprotected AAC files. It also features 2-megapixel camera and Bluetooth stereo.
From Samsung, Verizon has begun offering the Gleam CDMA 1x EV-DO clamshell with a new feature dubbed living wallpaper for its ability to automatically change wallpapers at various times of the day. The dual-NAM phone supports all of Verizon's music, video services and GPS navigation services and offers stereo Bluetooth and 2-megapixel camera at $149 with two-year contract.
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.