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CES 2004

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Audiovox LG BenQ  

The biggest phone news of the show was undoubtedly from Audiovox. They announced three new phones, one of which is an important milestone for North America.

The first announcement was the PPC 5050, a Pocket PC phone with 1xEV-DO technology. 1xEV-DO is a CDMA standard that offers extremely high wireless data speeds - averaging around 300-500 kbps - many times faster than 1xRTT, GPRS, or EDGE.

The announcement took on extra significance with the announcement by Verizon the next day that they will be deploying EV-DO nationwide starting this summer. The high data speeds will naturally speed up existing applications such as web and email, but will also open new possibilities, such as true streaming video with decent quality.

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The second announcement was the CDM-8910 - a new CDMA phone with VGA camera and flash. The 8910 is based loosely on the CDM-8900 design.

The company originally announced that the 8910 would be a megapixel camera phone, but later retracted that press release. However, there is still a megapixel phone in the works that was also on display as CES - the CDM-8920.

The third CES announcement for Audiovox was the 8425 and 8275. These are Audiovox's first PTT (walkie-talkie) phones. They are based on the 8400 and 8450, adding a ruggedized casing and PTT button. Each model will support a different PTT technology, as appropriate for each carrier.

Audiovox was also showing off several other new phones at their booth, including the CDM-8610. The 8610 upgrades to a roomier display and keypad compared to the 8600, while maintaining a slim profile. A speakerphone has also been added.

Another new phone being shown was the PPC 5000, a GSM Pocket PC device based on the same design as the well-received "xda II" and "mda II" in Europe. This impressive device boasts a 400 MHz processor, VGA camera, and internal antenna. Unfortunately, I was told the U.S. version may lack Bluetooth, although this is not yet confirmed.

Also making a booth appearance was the previously-announced 8450, in a new black color, which will be released with Sprint as the VI600.

And finally, Audiovox had a case showing some potential future GSM models. None of the phones are definite for release just yet, but one of the more interesting possibilities was a model manufactured by Pantech. It has a camera with flash, and an oversize external color display, in an amazingly small form factor. Hopefully a carrier will show interest, and Audiovox will bring this model to the U.S. market. It has been approved by the FCC already - a promising sign.

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