RealTime IT News

CES Sizzles With Media on the Go

Wireless telcos in the United States may be having a tough time upgrading their networks to broadband speeds, but when they do, all sorts of cool toys will be there to take advantage of them.

At the Consumer Electronics Show on Thursday, LG Mobile Phones demonstrated 40 handsets, 14 of them for the U.S. market.

Its VX8000 EVDO handset features video and music on demand for streaming, downloading and playing video and audio clips and video messaging. Its integrated CCD 1.3 megapixel camera with macro mode has four digital zoom settings for shooting video and stills. Internal and external active-matrix color LCD screens measure 262K to accommodate better framing.

The F9100 Keypad Slide-Design Mobile Phone features a full QWERTY keyboard beneath a sliding faceplate, 65,000-color customizable display and multimedia messaging. The A7110 Slide-Design Mobile Phone includes a full-color LCD screen EDGE high-speed data transmission and photo caller-ID. Integrated camera and messaging features let you send photos and videos with personalized text, voice and sound.

LG got on the push-to-talk bandwagon with its VX4700 handset, which includes a speakerphone and enhanced messaging services.

The prices for these models are still to-be-determined, but LG promised to put them on the market this month.

According to IT market research firm IDC, LG Mobile Phones sold more than 4.5 million units in the third quarter of 2004, garnering 27 percent of the U.S. CDMA handset market -- the largest share. LG was ranked fourth overall in U.S. market share for the quarter, and fifth globally in terms of shipments.

Also at CES, Orb Networks and Boingo Wireless announced a marketing partnership that will offer wireless delivery of live television, music, videos, photos and other digital home content via Wi-Fi .

Orb develops streaming media software and services. Its Personal Media Portal lets consumers access and control all kinds of digital content from most Internet-enabled devices, including cell phones, PDAs or notebooks. Boingo is an ultra-high-speed wireless Internet service provider. Its Wi-Fi software and roaming system let travelers easily find and connect to Wi-Fi networks.

Under the agreement, the two companies will make their services interoperable; Orb customers can gain access to the service wirelessly via the 12,000 hot-spot Boingo network. They'll also cross-promote the services. For example, Orb customers who sign up for Boingo will get the first 30 days free, while Boingo customers who add Orb will get the first 60 days of Orb free.

Sprint's wireless customers can upgrade their phone software without visiting a store, the telecom carrier announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas today. The carrier claims to be the first in the United States to offer such a service.

Users will be text-messaged and asked to approve the update. Download time will vary depending on the size and content of the upgrade package.

"With advanced megapixel cameras, camcorders and exciting downloadable content, the embedded operating software on wireless devices is becoming more complex and may occasionally require an update," John Garcia, Sprint's senior vice president of sales and distribution, said in a statement. "[Customers can now] get those upgrades directly on their phone without visiting a retail store or calling customer service."

Over-the-air updates are currently supported by seven handsets -- five of them from Samsung. The software upgrades will be available on nearly all future Sprint PCS phones as they are introduced.

The Overland, Kan., company said the feature is designed to improve customer satisfaction with the carrier, which is aiming to boost its national coverage by merging with Nextel Communications.

Additional reporting by Colin Haley.