Next-Gen Cell Phone Stars Shine in Barcelona
Samsung’s Green Blue Earth Phone
Samsung really pulled out the stops this year In terms of innovation, and one of the most unusual handsets in its lineup is the Blue Earth, which the company bills as "the first solar-powered full-touch phone." It has a solar panel on the back, and comes with a couple of eco-conscious applications, including an eco-walk calculator that uses a built-in pedometer to figure out how many steps you’ve taken — and then calculates how much CO2 emission you’ve saved by walking instead of driving.
Even the packaging for the phone is eco-friendly (made from recycled paper), and its charger (for when there’s not enough sun to power the device) is rated 5-star energy efficient and uses less than .03W of standby power.
The Blue Earth is made from recycled PCM plastic, extracted from water bottles, and, according to Samsung, is "free from harmful substances such as Brominated Flame Retardant, Beryllium and Phthalate." Kind of makes you wonder whether the rest of the phones we use have this evil-sounding stuff in them.
— By Denny Arar, PC World
Omnia HD Takes High Def to New Highs
If high-def video recording is your thing, you’ll definitely want to check out Samsung’s Omnia HD, a full-touch handset which can record and decode 720p video (for playback on an external HD display). The device itself boasts a roomy (3.7-inch) 360-by-640 Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode (AMOLED) display, a technology known for its brilliance. Based on the Symbian S60 5.0 operating system, the Omnia HD is one of several phones at the show that sport a high-performance 8-megapixel camera; it also has GPS. The Omnia HD is a quad-band GSM handset that supports the fastest HSDPA and HSUPA data networks.
Samsung’s Got the Beat — Two of Them, Actually
Going after hard-core music aficionados, Samsung is introducing a new line of Beat phones with two handsets: The Samsung Beat Disc (left) and the Samsung Beat DJ (right). Both feature AMOLED touch-screen displays, Bang & Olufsen-powered speakers and an application for recognizing, tagging and recommending music. The Beat Disc has a slide-out keyboard; the Beat DJ has an application that lets you add voice and sound effects, like scratching, to your tunes. Both are quad-band GSM phones that support high-speed (HSDPA) data networks.
Samsung’s 8-megapixel Memoir is one of the few handsets here with a scheduled U.S. launch date; T-Mobile is slated to put it on sale for $300 on Feb. 25. Its high-end camera features include blink detection, face detection, anti-shake to reduce blur, and geo-tagging; other features include white balance adjustment, five different shooting modes (single, continuous, panorama, "smile shot" and mosaic), and presets for a dozen or so types of photos. Support for popular photo-sharing sites rounds out the package.
Speaking of high-pixel count: Sony Ericsson’s low-end entry, the Walkman W995 (left) camera has 8.1 megapixels (plus all the top-of-the-line multimedia playback features you expect of a Walkman), and its upcoming Idou — pronounced "I do" — boasts an amazing 12.1 megapixels, the most we’ve seen on any unit at the show to date. Then again, the Idou at this point is a concept camera that might well be released under a different name. Sony Ericsson, which showed four new and recently announced handsets at the show, says the Idou is coming later next year.
HTC’s Touching Experience
Taiwanese phone design powerhouse High Tech Computers, the company that created the first Android handset, is also focusing on touch with a pair of new handsets that refine and expand upon previous models. The HTC Touch Diamond2 will be one of the first phones to introduce Windows Mobile 6.5 — but like other vendors, HTC has developed its own custom overlay, TouchFLO 3D, which the company believes is more user-friendly. Among other things, TouchFLO 3D is highly customizable so you can organize your information the way you want it, keeping important contacts and content close at hand.
Compared to the original Touch Diamond, the new model has a larger (3.2-inch) screen and a touch-sensitive zoom bar to easily magnify portions of Web pages, messages and the like. HTC says the Touch Diamond2’s battery life betters its predecessor’s by 50 percent, and it has a 5-megapixel camera. It should appear in Europe and Asia this spring, with wider availability to follow.
Touch and Speech Run the HTC Touch Pro2
Also based on Windows Mobile, the Touch Pro2 has a slide-out keyboard, making it particularly well-suited for e-mail. It also has a few business-friendly audio features based on new HTC technology: HTC Straight Talk integrates voice, e-mail and speakerphone, allowing you to transition seamlessly between communication modes. And when you flip the phone over, it automatically turns it into a conference room speakerphone. (Read IDG News correspondent Dan Nystedt’s hands-on report about the Touch Pro2.)
The HTC Touch Pro2 is due out this summer.
LG’s Touch-Based Multimedia Marvel
LG Electronics’ assault on the iPhone is led by the new Arena (LG-KM900), which sports the company’s new 3D S-Class touch-based user interface. One unusual feature is its Reel Scrolling, which put various menus (contacts, settings, etc.) on horizontal strips that you scroll through by dragging them to the left or right. These reels in turns live on four home screens that form the faces of a virtual cube that you flip through to access.
The Arena features Dolby Mobile surround sound and a 3-inch WVGA touchscreen. It provides a 5-megapixel camera, 8GB of internal storage (plus support for 32 more via SDHC card). The handset supports high-speed (HSDPA) GSM networks and Wi-Fi, plus assisted GPS. All this, in a package less than 12mm thick, is slated to ship in Europe in March.