VTech Industries will start shipping a new portable e-mail device this spring and plans to expand distribution for its current e-mail device line into the retail channel by the summer, the company reported at CES.
The Imprompt2 handheld e-mail appliance is expected to become available at VTech's online store, VTechworld.com, this April at a $149 suggested retail price, director of business development Rick Picozzi said.
The wallet-size Imprompt2 gives users semi-wireless connectivity to simple e-mail text messages via VTech's own e-mail service, also called Vtechworld.com. The service costs $100 per year but can be bought in quarterly increments.
The device can wirelessly receive e-mail, but the user must connect to a telephone line in order to send messages. Picozzi said two-way wireless connectivity was not included in the Imprompt2 in order to keep costs down. The device can also receive news, weather and sports updates.
The wireless capability is being delivered through a deal with carrier SkyTel. VTech would not say how many people have signed up for its e-mail service since the first products became available in mid-1999.
Picozzi was purposefully vague on what the future will bring for the next-generation e-mail devices. While saying his company is committed to bringing new features to the line, he would not comment on whether this would include Bluetooth networking capability or adding Internet access.
VTech's distribution plans will include brick & mortar retailers by midyear, said Picozzi. The company decided to go the direct-sales route because the products were rolled out too late to get into retailers by the holiday selling season, but VTech wanted to expose the products to the general public.