With the new year comes a lot of buzz from the phone industry. Not only are regular cell phones improving by getting smaller, smarter and lighter but a host of new network services, like higher-speed data transmission, are making them potentially more useful. There's also a new breed of handset packing digital TV reception, and you can find some examples of these in this month's hot gadgets round-up. Looking ahead to the rest of the year we're sure to see more advanced phones with features like VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephony too.
The year will also be, like 2006, marked by severe price competition. That means in some cases that the products you want will be cheaper and in other cases the price will remain unchanged but the number of features increased. It's been happening for the last couple of years and -- much to the dismay of gadget makers -- looks set to continue as they all battle to become king of the digital age.
Samsung TPEG Cell Phone
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has developed a cell phone capable of receiving real-time traffic information using a new system called TPEG. The SPH-B5800 phone can receive and decode the information broadcast using the Transport Protocol Experts Group format that was developed in Europe in the late 1990s and is already in use in South Korea. The phone updates travel information every five minutes and can also display the TV stations broadcast through the country's Satellite DMB system. It went on sale in South Korea in December for around US$600 and includes a 2-megapixel camera, 330,000 word dictionary, and 2-inch color TFT (thin-film transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) screen. It measures 96 millimeters by 46 mm by 16 mm and weighs 96 grams. It won't be available overseas.
Toshiba Gigabeat V-series
Toshiba Corp.'s out to impress with the new Gigabeat V-series models. Available in both 30G-byte (V30E) and 60G-byte (V60E) models, the hard-disk drive players have a 3.5-inch QVGA (320 pixels by 240 pixels) resolution display that occupies most of the front panel. It will play a host of music and video formats including Windows Media, WMA9 Lossless, MP3 and WAV audio files including those encoded with Windows Media DRM10 and it can also show JPEG images. The video playback is a little disappointing as it's limited to Windows Media Video files. Also included is a tuner for Japan's mobile digital TV service, called "OneSeg," and the device can record TV shows off-air for later viewing. The on-screen interface is in Japanese or English and it's been on sale in Japan since late November for ¥49,800 (V30E) and ¥59,800 (V60E) (US$419 and $503, respectively). There's no word on international launch plans.
Panasonic ToughBook Laptop PC
Drop it, bang it, crash it, do just about anything you like with the latest ToughBook laptop computers from Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (Panasonic). Two models are available, the 19- and 30-series, and each is based around an Intel Centrino Duo processor. Both can withstand a drop of 90 centimeters and are resistant to shock, vibration, water and dust. The 19-series model is a convertible with a touchscreen while the 30-series model includes a super-bright (1,000 nits) LCD (liquid crystal display) panel that should make it easy to use outdoors. They'll be on sale in Japan in February and will cost around ¥450,000 for the 30-series computer and ¥300,000 (US$2,526) for the 19-series. They are available now in the U.S.
Samsung Yepp T9 Music Player