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LG shows off Watch Phone

At Mobile World Congress, LG demonstrated video-calling on its wristwatch-style mobile phone for the first time, in a call to Steve Ballmer
By David Meyer, Contributor
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1 of 5 David Meyer/ZDNET

One of the most talked-about gadgets at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona was LG's touchscreen Watch Phone, the GD910.

The company first showed a prototype version of the device last year, and in January this year it displayed the finished version at the CES show in Las Vegas. It was not until Monday, however, that LG showed off the Watch Phone's video-calling facility.

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2 of 5 David Meyer/ZDNET

The first publicly demonstrated video call on the Watch Phone, which runs a form of Windows Mobile, was made on Monday by LG president and chief executive Dr Skott Ahn.

The "surprise guest" who received the call was Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer. An hour after the call, the two executives shared the stage at the launch of Windows Mobile 6.5.

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3 of 5 David Meyer/ZDNET

The metal-cased Watch Phone is 13.9mm thick. The 1.43-inch screen uses an LG-specific flash interface.

LG's device has stereo Bluetooth connectivity, so users can use a wireless headset as an alternative to the built-in microphone and speaker. The Watch Phone uses 7.2Mbps HSDPA for data transmission and video calling. It also has a built-in MP3 player, phone book and scheduler.

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4 of 5 David Meyer/ZDNET

Although finger-based operation is possible on the Watch Phone, the interface is rather small in comparison to that of normal handsets. However, voice recognition software is pre-installed on the device. LG says this tool makes it easier for people to place calls and look up contacts.

Also included is text-to-speech software, which speaks text messages and other information out loud through the loudspeaker or a Bluetooth headset.

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5 of 5 David Meyer/ZDNET

The Watch Phone's SIM card slot is at the back of the device, according to LG's demonstrator on the Mobile World Congress show floor. However, LG  would not let ZDNet UK see or photograph the back, saying that more information would be "revealed" in the third quarter of this year. The company would also not allow any filming of the device's video-call functionality, beyond the single demonstration that took place between Ahn and Ballmer.

Precise pricing and availability details are yet to be announced. LG has said that the Watch Phone will arrive in the second half of 2009, with mobile operator Orange distributing it in Europe.

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