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CES 2005

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P50 Z2 / U700 / P31  

BenQ is one of several smaller Asian companies that always has something nifty to show off at CES, and is always trying break into the US market, but never seems to get much traction in this part of the world. Amoi is another company like this, but we'll get to them later.

BenQ's phone lineup covers a very wide range, from super-cheap to the ultimate high-end (like the P50 we covered earlier). Peppered in there are some really unique models that caught my attention this year:

First up is the Z2. This eye-catching tri-band GSM phone has an emphasis on music, with an MP3 player and 60 MB of built-in memory, expandable via a miniSD memory card slot. The unique square design is accented by changeable front and back covers.

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In the feature department, things look good at first glance, with a 1.3 megapixel camera and a 262,000-color TFT display. But upon closer inspection, it turns out the camera cannot capture video, and the display is decidedly low-resolution at only 128 x 128 pixels. Still, I have to give BenQ props for the creative design.

Next up is the U700, a high-end, tri-band GSM phone of the increasingly-popular slider variety. The specs are certainly all there, including a 176 x 220 pixel TFT display, MP3 player, class 10 GPRS, and a miniSD memory card slot.

 

But things don't get really interesting until you flip it over to check out the back. Not only does the 1.3 megapixel camera employ high-quality CCD technology and sport a macro lens switch, but it's aided by xenon-tube flash, otherwise known as a real flash, like on a standalone digital camera. Most "flashes" on other camera phones use LED technology, which only provides a small fraction of the light output compared to xenon. The camera also records high-quality, smooth 30 fps video, with clip length limited only by available memory on the miniSD card.

Finally, BenQ was also showing off the P31, an update to their P30 smartphone running the Symbian-based UIQ platform.

 

The P31 is very similar to the P30, except the antenna is now internal and the camera has been bumped up from VGA to 1.3 megapixel. The battery has also been beefed up, which increases thickness a bit, but (impressively) doesn't add a single gram to the weight.

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