The gadget gods prevailed at a wireless convention last week, revealing a number of devices and entertainment services worthy of smuggling...
The gadget gods prevailed at a wireless convention last week, revealing a number of devices and entertainment services worthy of smuggling back in your suitcase.
The CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment Show in San Francisco is an annual event that shows off some of the latest in wireless business and entertainment. More than 15,000 people and 250 exhibitors attended.
Although it is the junior show to Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association’s March conference, this year it seemed the “smaller event” had as many major announcements from carriers and manufacturers as the senior show.
The intensity started the day before the show with Microsoft, Palm and Verizon Wireless saying they would team up on a new Treo Smartphone featuring Windows Mobile 5.0 software on Verizon Wireless’ new high-speed cellular network.
Not a lot was revealed about the device, including its name, price or when it would be available, but it marked the first time Palm is using a new operating system — and one made by its longtime rival, Microsoft.
Unlike that announcement, there was a lot more information about other devices that were showcased the rest of the week. Here are some of the items that stood out:
What: Phone made by Nokia and offered by Cingular Wireless. It runs Research In Motion’s popular BlackBerry software and is the first of its kind in the U.S.
The guts: On the surface, the so-called BlackBerry Connect device looks like a traditional Nokia candy-bar-style phone, except it’s a little longer, like a remote control. When turned on its side, however, it opens like a makeup compact to reveal a full keyboard and screen stretching lengthwise. The style gives users plenty of real estate for typing and navigating. The device will operate on Cingular’s nationwide EDGE network, which offers faster speeds than the traditional cellular networks.
The glory: The Nokia 9300 has a little joystick in the lower right-hand corner, much like the eraser-style tracking mouse on a laptop.
What: ESPN’s first mobile phone to launch on an ESPN-branded mobile network.
The guts: The phone has a sleek black design with red lettering. All the characters and numbers are in ESPN’s recognizable typeface. Content can be personalized for the users so that information about a person’s favorite teams and players is one click away. Users can also track their fantasy-sports leagues and receive alerts when a player is injured. Scores scroll on the phone’s outer display for viewing even at the dinner table.
Mobile ESPN is set to launch before the holidays on a limited basis, and more broadly in February. ESPN will be the carrier but will ride on top of Sprint’s broadband EV-DO network.
The glory: The phone is as good on the field as it is off. In addition to content, it has some high-quality perks, including a 1.3 megapixel camera with flash, a built-in music player, digital voice recorder, 16 megabyte memory card (1 gigabyte cards available), high-quality speakerphone and a screen with three times the resolution of most cellphone displays.
Sprint PCS Vision
What: A Smartphone/Pocket PC device also known as the PPC-6700.
The guts: Although it was announced before the show, it received a lot of attention for doing a lot of things well. The sleek design makes the otherwise bulky image of a handheld PC less awkward when pressing it to the ear for a phone call. It is also the first Pocket PC to have the Windows Mobile 5.0 software in the U.S.
The device runs on Sprint’s high-speed EV-DO network and has a full keyboard that pulls out from the side. When the keyboard is extended, the screen switches automatically to a landscape display (in which the horizontal is longer than the vertical). It costs $480 with a rebate.
The glory: The handheld has a built-in Wi-Fi chip. When the device senses a Wi-Fi network, it will automatically switch over from the EV-DO network to Wi-Fi, which is faster and, in most cases, cheaper. This capability means a user could install software for an application such as Skype to make voice calls over the Internet instead of using the cellular network. That would allow a user to conceivably talk more for less money.
Kyocera Slider Sonic and Jet (KX18)
What: Two handsets from Amp’d and Virgin Mobile, two independently branded mobile services that run on Sprint’s network. Both target young subscribers through exclusive content relationships. Virgin Mobile’s Slider Sonic will have exclusive content from MTV. Amp’d’s Jet will target a slightly older and more sophisticated user.
The guts: Dubbed the music phone for teens, the Slider comes with a music player and free embedded music videos from three artists. The phone has a camera, video recorder and MTV content a click away from the phone’s main screen. It will cost $250.
The Jet runs on Sprint’s high-speed EV-DO network for fast downloads. It has a music player with a dedicated button, a camera with flash and 512 megabytes of music storage. The phone will also have push-to-talk capabilities.
The glory: The Slider’s MTV content includes access to shows such as “Pimp My Ride” and “Rock Paper Shizzle,” as well as a texting service that allows users to vote for videos appearing on “Total Request Live.” There’s even a service called “rescue ring” said to save a user from a sticky situation. Amp’d also has a ton of content arrangements, but The Jet will be offered for $99 to $129, cheaper than most phones equipped for EV-DO connections.
What: A new keypad technology by Digit Wireless of Lexington, Mass.
The guts: The keypad incorporates the alphabet into the keypad by embedding a button for each letter at the corners of each number. It does not make the phone any larger and allows a person to type without having to “triple tap,” the practice of hitting each button the appropriate number of times to get a specific letter.
The glory: The device is designed to make text messaging and other services easier to use on conventional cellphones. The first commercially available device with the keyboard is the LG 6190 phone in Canada.
UTStarcom CDM 180
What: A stubby phone designed to accommodate widescreen displays.
The guts: The only difference between this phone and other flip phones is that it has a landscape display. Pages are supposed to convert easily to the format, but if the screen ends up being too wide, black bars will appear on either side, similar to how a widescreen DVD would play on a TV with bars at the top and bottom.
The glory: Verizon Wireless is currently testing it and could come out with the phone soon.
Nokia 770 Internet Tablet
What: A medium-sized device that provides Internet access via Wi-Fi or a mobile phone using a Bluetooth connection.
The guts: The device, about the size of a VHS cassette tape, has a large screen, a stylus and a couple of buttons. The tablet connects to the Internet over a Wi-Fi network or by using a cellphone as a modem. Applications include Web browsing, e-mail, a news reader, Internet radio, media player, PDF viewer and more.
The glory: The tablet, which runs on a Linux operating system, received a fair amount of attention at the show for Nokia, which makes phones and devices for cellular networks. The benefit of this device is that, unlike a cellphone, it does not require a monthly fee. It is available for about $350.
Tricia Duryee: 206-464-3283 or firstname.lastname@example.org