Sony Ericsson adds digital cameras to phones

The first fruits of the Sony Ericsson joint venture arrive with features such as built-in digital cameras, Microsoft Word viewers and downloadable Java games

Ericsson on Tuesday made its comeback in the mobile phone design stakes with the first fruits of its joint venture with Sony; mobile phones with digital cameras built in. Of the new phones, the T68i is the first to hit the market; Sony Ericsson said it is available now. The P800, a slick version of the old R380 with an an integrated digital camera, will be available in the autumn, as will the Z700 games model. See the new phones here. Sony Ericsson said it would be demonstrating the new phones at the CeBIT tech show in Hannover this month. The T68i is a re-styled update of the current T68, but adds significant features associated with imaging. It is the first mobile phone to support the MMS multimedia messaging standard, which Sony Ericsson says will be common across its entire range next year, and which is likely to be adopted by other phone manufacturers later this year. MMS messaging enables the T68i to send images taken using the CommuniCam to other phones; images can also be emailed from the phone's mail client. Sony Ericcson said the T68i will act as viewfinder for the camera, which can store 14 full VGA (640 by 480 pixels) pictures, or up to 200 pictures in the QVGA (160 by 160) format made popular by Palm devices. Pictures taken on the camera can be used as background pictures on the phone, said Sony Ericsson, and can be associated with phone numbers - so that the next time someone calls, the phone will display their picture. The P800 supports tri-band GSM, so it can be used across Europe and the US, and also supports GPRS for high-speed mobile networks, typically used for Internet access. It also includes Bluetooth for wireless connectivity to a headset or notebook computer. Of all the models, the P800 -- due to be launched in the autumn -- is the most radical. Pictures from the camera can be viewed on the 208 by 320 pixel colour screen, stored in the phone's photo album and emailed as attachments or sent to other phones as an MMS-message. Sony Ericsson suggested that the camera could be used to send an image of the person calling --- a sort of poor man's version of video conferencing. Like the T68i, the P800 supports tri-band GSM, GPRS and Bluetooth. This is the first phone based on the Symbian 7.0 platform, which includes the same personal organiser functions as the old Ericsson R380 phone -- built on the earlier Symbian 6.0 platform. Symbian 7.0, however, goes further; it can download video clips for viewing on the phone, and enables the user to view Powerpoint, Word and Excel files too. It also has the Java 2 Micro Edition runtime environment, so Java-based games and other applications can be downloaded. "The P800 symbolizes what we mean by mobile multimedia products, a phone that will change the way people communicate and that will help people create new ways of expression and interaction", said Katsumi Ihara, president of Sony Ericsson, in a statement. For gamers, Sony Ericsson will launch the Z700, which like the P800 will run downloadable Java games; it will come pre-loaded with Men in Black and Charlie's Angels games. This phone will have a colour screen, support Bluetooth, GPRS, dual band GSM, and polyphonic ringtones.


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