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New Cellphones Targeting MP3 Users

Cellphone suppliers Sony Ericsson and Motorola turned out at International CES with new music-focused cellphones, one of which was described by Motorola mobile devices president Stu Reed as “dispelling the myth that mobile phones with music features are inferior to stand-alone audio devices.”

That phone, Motorola’s ROKR E8 quad-band GSM/EDGE phone, features ModeShift technology to present users with either music-player controls or cellphone controls without showing both simultaneously. When the phone is powered off, its surface is smooth and lacks visible keys, but when the device is powered up, a virtual numbered keypad appears on the front surface. When a virtual music key is pressed, the phone keypad disappears, and music-player controls appear in their place. Haptics technology provides tactile response when a virtual key is pressed.

The Rokr E8, due in the first quarter, also features FM radio, a navigation wheel, 2GB internal memory, a microSD slot and compatibility with Windows Media Player 11 on a PC.

Also due in the first quarter is the Motorola Z10 multimedia phone, an HSDPA-equipped kick slider encased in spun stainless steel and capable of uploading videos that it captures to YouTube, Google and other Web sites. It also plays back video at 30 fps on its 2.2-inch QVGA screen. It features a memory card slot and Symbian/UIQ operating system.

Two other new Motorola music-playing phones are entry-level GSM models with FM radio and RDS. The candy bar W230 and clamshell W270 each include microSD slot and an FM recorder. They’re due in the first quarter.

For its part, Sony expanded its Walkman-brand selection of MP3 cellphones with two new models, including the company’s first Walkman-branded 3G phone for the North American market. That phone, the W760 slider, operates in high-speed HSDPA mode in three bands, including the European 2.1GHz band. It will support AT&T’s planned over-the-air music-download service when it launches midyear, executives said. The phone also features built-in games, tilt gaming controlls, and dedicated A-B game buttons. It offers Wayfinder Navigator GPS navigation, an included 1GB Memory Stick, and Shake Control, which lets users shake the phone to skip tracks or adjust volume.

In a throwback to the 80s, the triband GSM/EDGE W350 Walkman phone features a flip cover to cover the dialing keypad. When the cover is closed, dedicated music controls appear on the front of the flip cover to make the phone appear more like a dedicated MP3 player. It’s only 10mm thin and available in four colors to target the fashion-focused music enthusiast, the company said. Both play MP3, WMA, and AAC-family files.

A third Sony Ericsson phone, dubbed an affordable fashion phone, features gesture control, which enables users to wave their hand above the phone to silence a ring or snooze the alarm.

All three Sony Ericsson phones will be available in the second quarter through carrier channels and as unlocked phones.

Also here at CES, Nokia showed a U.S.-optimized version of the new N95 8GB “multimedia computer.” The quad-band world phone operates in W-CDMA HSDPA mode in the U.S. 850/1900MHz bands with datarates up to 3.6Mbps. It also operates in GSM/EDGE mode in other countries’ 900/1800MHz bands and in the U.S. 850/1900MHz bands.

The dual slider slides one way to show a dialing keypad and another way to show multimedia controls. It features 2.8-inch QVGA screen, assisted GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g, stereo Bluetooth, 5-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, access to Nokia’s navigation service (offering turn-by-turn driving instructions), UPnP for quick connection to UPnP-equipped PCs and other devices, and access to Nokia’s new Internet radio service. Nokia’s Internet radio application can also be downloaded to the N82, N91, and N95.