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Sony Ericsson debuts keyboard smart phone

P910 to succeed P900

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Sony Ericsson today upgraded its P900 smart phone, adding a Blackberry-style QWERTY micro-keyboard to the handset in a bid to grab a bigger share of customers moving from PDAs.

The phone maker also unveiled a more mainstream handset for the yoof market, including a new system to download music and other content to phones.

Sony Ericsson P910The P910's keyboard sits on the other side of the fold-down numeric keypad familiar to P900 users. Unlike the micro-keyboard on the Blackberry and PalmOne Treo, the P910's QWERTY layout offers rectangular, larger keys the better to be reached by less nimble executive thumbs.

Sony Ericsson K500In addition to the keyboard, Sony Ericsson has bundled support for all the major corporate push email platforms, including IBM, Blackberry, Visto, Extended Systems, Seven, Smartner and IntelliSync. Sony Ericsson is promoting the device as an email tool, having finally figured out that's what most business users want to use a smart phone for.

The tri-band P910 now sports a slicker 262,000-colour LCD and contains 64MB of SDRAM, up from the P900's meagre 16MB. Sony Ericsson had been rather more parsimonious with the new K500 series' memory: just 12MB. The company reckons that's "impressive", but not, we'd say, for a handset that's being pitched as a games deck and media player.

Sony Ericsson reckons 12MB is enough for 170 2D games or 45 3D titles - the handset features the Mascot Capsule 3D graphics engine from Hi Corp - but it's only enough for three or four decently encoded MP3 tracks. The company said it sees music downloads as a key feature for youth-oriented handsets, but for now it's focusing on ringtones and games. Today, it touted its PlayNow system, a DRM-enabled download service developed in partnership with Sony Music.

The tri-band K500 itself sports a 1.9in, 128 x 160 65,000-colour display connected to a 1.3 megapixel digicam with 4x digital zoom. The handset weighs 80g and measures 10.2 x 4.6 x 1.4cm. Its battery provides up to eight hours' talk-time and 300 hours stand-by operation.

Prices were not disclosed, but both handsets will ship sometime during the current quarter. ®

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