Kyocera Quintet Sings With MP3, EV-DO

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Kyocera plans to display five new phones that include its first two music-centric phones and an expanded selection of CDMA 1x EV-DO models.

The company is also launching its first PC Card modem with CDMA 1x EV-DO high-speed data.

The modem uses the Express Card form factor, and the two music phones are clamshell models with music-dedicated controls on the outside and stereo Bluetooth on the inside.

All phones are the first designed by the company's recently expanded in-house industrial design team, and all but the M1000 are dual-band 800/1,900MHz digital-only phones. The M1000 is a dual-band trimode that incorporates 800/1,900MHz digital and 800MHz analog.

The two music phones, the E2000 and E5000 clamshells, expand the company's selection of CDMA 1x EV-DO phones to three models from one (the Jet). They are the company's first phones with stereo Bluetooth and they are software-upgradable to support over-the-air music download services from select carriers. The company showed a music phone at last year's show but didn't ship it.

The gloss-black E2000 and the E5000, with black and chrome-look finish, play music encoded in the MP3, AAC, AAC+ and WMA formats. Both models will play protected WMA downloads, including protected subscription downloads, transferred from a PC. Music is stored in 64MB embedded memory or in microSD cards.

The E2000 features external push-button music controls and the E5000 uses touch-sensitive music controls. The E2000 uses a recessed top hinge, but the E5000 uses a new stainless-steel S-hinge that joins the two clamshell sections together and runs down both sides of the phone for added durability. The hinge is made of injection-molded metal created with a new technology that strengthens the metal by aligning molecules, the company said. Previously injection molding was confined to plastics.

Both models are mid-tier phones, but the E5000 is positioned as offering high-end styling at a low price, the company said. High-end styling includes a waterfall keypad whose dialing keys run to end edges of the phone. Possible fall shipments to carriers are targeted.

Also new: the M1000 clamshell with QWERTY keyboard, positioned as the next-generation Strobe and designed for heavy message users. Like the Strobe, the phone looks like a bar phone with dialing keypad and display on the outside, but when turned to a horizontal position, it opens up to reveal a landscape display and QWERTY keyboard. The new version features larger QWERTY and dialing keys, a larger exterior screen and a more traditional-style dialing keypad to expand the customer base beyond teens.

The M1000 is a dual-band trimode CDMA 1x model, like the Strobe, but increases camera resolution to 1.3 megapixels from VGA. EV-DO wasn't added because it's not needed for text messaging, the company said. It will be priced similarly to the Strobe, which sold at $49 with postpaid plans and $129 with Virgin Mobile prepaid plans. It ships in late summer.

Two entry-level digital dual-band CDMA 1x phones are the E1000 and S1000. The E1000 clamshell is said to offer high-end styling an an entry-tier price with color screens and 1.3-megapixel camera. The S1000 uses color-filtered grayscale displays to mimick a color display at less cost. It will sell for free with postpaid plans and is suitable for prepaid plans, the company said.

Accessories to the music phones include a deck-of-cards-size Music Gateway that connects to stereo systems and amplified speakers via RCA outputs to reproduce music streamed from a stereo Bluetooth phone or from an MP3 player equipped with an optional Bluetooth adapter. The Gateway will also stream music from a stereo system to Bluetooth headsets.

The Gateway will retail for $79.99; the adepter will be $34.99. They'll be available on the company's Web site on April 1 and will be shipped to carriers.

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