Sony Ericsson has boosted its line-up for mobile business with the announcement of EDGE-compatible, high-speed data cards for laptops, new handsets, and a number of Bluetooth accessories. They include one that allows presentations to be made from a handset, or PDA, to a TV or projector, and a car kit that can register multiple handsets.
The tri-band EDGE cards are successors to a model launched last year in the US. They provide triple the data speed of a single GSM or GPRS channel but their acceptance may be limited by the patchy roll-out of EDGE around the European networks. In the UK, only Orange is understood to be planning EDGE services.
The GC85 card supports the 900, 1800 and 1900MHz bands, while the US-centric GC83 supports 1800, 1900 and the second US band at 850MHz. Both have detachable aerials but while the GC83 is due next quarter, the GC85 will not ship until the fourth quarter.
Perhaps the neatest gadget is the Bluetooth Media Viewer MMV-100, also due next quarter. This plugs into the SCART socket of a TV, or by cable to a projector, and accepts images and audio files beamed from other Bluetooth devices. Business applications include using a PDA, or phone, to store presentations, with newer Sony Ericsson handsets having a slideshow feature for exactly this purpose.
However, when not being used for a presentation the MMV-100 can also accept images from unpaired Bluetooth devices, opening up opportunities in the entertainment arena. For example, visitors could beam their photos to a pub TV.
"The key is you should not need to know about Bluetooth profiles - it should work with any device," said product manager Magnus Hultberg. "There's a lot of 'Will it work?' feeling with Bluetooth, but this shows it's really simple to use and quick too."
Also useful for businesses will be the HCB-300 Bluetooth car hands-free. This can register up to five handsets, although only one can be connected at a time. Users can either let the device auto-detect their phone, or switch profiles manually.
The handset line-up includes the S700 which is Sony Ericsson's first 1.3 megapixel camera-phone for GSM, and has a Memory Stick Duo slot, and the K700 which updates the popular T610 and T630 series. The K700 features a VGA-resolution camera, an FM radio, the ability to use MP3 files as ringtones and 32MB of memory compared to the T610's meagre 2MB.
Both have a white LED photo-light for night-time pictures. Sony Ericsson says the K700 will go on sale within the next three months, while the S700 will be nearer the end of the year.
The other new handsets are aimed at the US market, most notably the clamshell Z500, which supports both EDGE and the push-to-talk capability now becoming popular in the US. Push-to-talk allows you to record a voice message which is then delivered to one or more recipients over GPRS, rather like a walkie-talkie.
Sony Ericsson has also worked on the exterior design of its handsets to make them dual-sided - one side looks like a phone, while the other more closely resembles a digital camera. Executive VP of sales and marketing Jan Wäreby says that, with 55 million sold during 2003, camera-phones have already outsold digital cameras.