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CommunicAsia Show Part I – Phones

This year’s CommunicAsia telecoms show was apparently smaller than in recent years, but there were still 5 halls filled with all sorts of telecoms stuff. Most of the major manufacturers were there, although notable absentees included Motorola and Nokia (which had its own small show running at a nearby hotel). Anyway, there were certainly some interesting products on view –

Sony Ericsson
I keep coming back to the P800 smartphone, for the very simple reason that it is looking more and more like a killer product in this sector. Just when we all thought that it couldn’t get any better, bam, up comes the company with an announcement that it will now sport a tiny Memory Stick Duo slot and an MP3 player.

For my money this makes the device just about complete, and judging from my chats with company suits, they seem to think so too. The slot fits right under the pull off plastic stylus which you can see from the two pics below. The unit will ship with a 16MB stick as standard. Personally I would rather have seen an SD slot lurking under there, because of its wider availability and cross platform usage, but hey this is Sony right?

And it is certainly very very cool of them to have added unlimited storage capacity on this handset. As an example of how pleased the company is with this move, senior execs were talking seriously about people being able to use it to wirelessly beam full blown PowerPoint presentations from the handset to a BlueTooth enabled projector ‘real soon now’. Now how cool is that?

One assumes that you could also beam an MPEG video from phone to projector too, which is sort of mind blowing once you figure that Memory Stick Duo capacities should reach 1GB within the next two years.

I also got to use the phone a little more, and was yet again impressed by how much thought has gone into the design. The jog wheel for instance, which is on the top left hand side of the unit, really does quite a good job as a replacement for a joystick a la Nokia, and having tried out the handwriting recognition again, I am even more convinced that it is a great implementation. It is a doddle to use, and appears to be exceptionally good at recognising hastily written scrawl.

This tiny phone really blew me away. It must rank as the smallest tri-band phone in the world, and yet it sports a set of features that would shame many brick sized models.

Vibrating games, EMS, calendar and WAP are among the goodies, but I predict that it will be the tiny form factor, cool colours and light pocket friendly weight that will win customers for this device. The handset is due out by the end of this year.

Not such a ground breaking product, but interesting nonetheless, the T300 offers cheaper MMS features, as it will ship with an updated digital zoom capable Communicam MCA 25. By the way folks, doesn’t that make this the fourth T300 mobile phone on the market, after the Samsung, Motorola and Mitsubishi? Or am I missing something here?

The phone also features 24 note polyphonic ringing tones, which makes it the most ‘musical’ handset outside Japan (which now has the dubious distinction of having 40 note polyphony). For anyone who doesn’t know what this means, basically it introduces real music sounding ringtones, instead of those horrible tinny, screechy bleepy type noises.

Now whether this is a Good Thing is another matter. Imagine, for instance, the sound of several handsets going off in a train carriage you’re in, all loudly playing different ‘radio quality’ tunes as their ring tones and you’ll get the idea. Beethoven’s Fifth alongside the Spice Girls and Def Leppard? Cacophony is not the word. Anyway love ’em or hate ’em, polyphonic phones are on their way.

Anyway again the product is due out by the end of the year, at a ‘mid-market’ price apparently, whatever that means.

To be honest, the Nokia presence at the show (or rather the hotel nearby) was rather muted for some reason. I’m not sure whether it was because the company had very little new on show – compared with the launch of three new handsets from SonyEricsson for instance – or whether Nokia just wanted to play it ‘market leader’ cool.

Whatever the cause, it showed. The only real stuff of interest were a couple of obligatory concept phones and the stand of M-Internet which was showing off a fabulous colour Xenon clone game called SkyRaider as well as the spiffy new MP3Go MP3 audio player and an MPEG 1 video player – all for the upcoming Nokia 7650 handset.

The Rest
Panasonic as might be expected had a fairly decent stand, and was showing off its new GD88 phone, another camera phone with a 65K colour screen and fancy bits and bobs. They were also showing off some tiny fold up handsets whose name escapes me, but were notable because they were prettier than yer average grey plastic joe.

The Mirror Phone III, from Radiiontech, is a twee little cellular handset buried inside a car rear view mirror. I’m not sure how useful this would be in real life, but it was different enough to merit a mention here.

And finally, the NTT DoCoMo folks were displaying their FOMA 3G handsets in force, but to be honest I found them totally unimpressive. Bulky, ugly and certainly not something I’d want to slip into my pocket of an evening. Perhaps I was missing something, but if that’s the shape of things to come, I’ll stick to GPRS thanks very much.

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