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Nokia unveils walkie talkie phone

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Nokia has launched the first GSM phone that supports the inaptly-named 'Push To Talk' features natively. PTT is a half duplex feature, like a walkie talkie - only one person can speak at any one time - that allows conference calls to be set up very quickly with a dedicated button. It's a Voice over IP service that uses the phone's packet data, rather voice time slots. Nokia promises that all of its GSM/GPRS and 3G models will support PTT by 2005, beginning with the introduction of Symbian phones next year.

Aimed at outdoors sports enthusiasts, the 5140 includes a digital compass, thermometer, stopwatch and flashlight in a splash resistant (Nokia is careful not to use the word 'waterproof') casing. Nokia bundles what it calls 'Fitness Coach' software. Two models, one for the Americas, and one for Europe and Asia, will be launched in 2Q next year. Both will support the higher data rates enabled by EDGE. Nokia says its base stations have been EDGE-capable since 2001.

Smartphone users can already use push to talk if they have software such as Buzz2Talk installed. Analysts reckon PTT will catch on with groups such as teenagers and public sector field workers first. But it looks like we'll have to wait for a couple of years before phones supporting the service are ubiquitous. ®

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