iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






June 2001:
Mobile technologies and communication.

In June, despite a started period of leaves, many manufacturers introduced a great deal of new products. In this article I will talk about only the most interesting ones. Your comments, please, sent to eldar@ixbt.com.

News of the market

Nokia started official selling a long expected model - 9210. This year the Nokia 9210 Communicator will ship only to Europe, Asia and Africa. A retail price of the phone in the Finland makes $1043. Next year Nokia is planning on launching the 9290 model onto an American market, which will differ from the 9210 in the GSM band of 1900 MHz.

The 6210 Cyber Silver, a new model from Nokia, intended for entering the Asian market, is equipped with a wireless Bluetooth adapter, which allows connecting with other Bluetooth devices at the distance of up to 10 m (in the traditional 6210 such function is absent), as well as with a Li-polymeric battery (1100 mAh). The weight, thus, decreased down to 107 g. The model measures 17 X 129.5 x 47.3 mm.

The rest of characteristics are identical to the previous versions: WAP 1.1 support, a high-resolution graphics display (96x60 pixels), backlight, up to 500 records in a PhoneBook, up to 150 textual messages, up to 50 messages with pictures, 220 records in the calendar (organizer), voice dialing for 10 numbers, SMS, an internal antenna, a built-in vibra call, watch, IR port etc.

Ericsson stared production of a pen Chatpen CHA-30 for transferring any text to mobile phones, hand-held computers or right over the Internet. Till recently this device was called Anoto. Such a pen can use the Bluetooth and GPRS technologies for data transfer. The principle of operation is simple: a user writes with this pen over the surface of special paper with an unnoticeable grid chat. The pen is equipped with a tiny video camera which fixes movements of the pen over the surface; the signal proceeds to a chip which calculates a motion path. After that data are transferred with a Bluetooth transmitter to a mobile phone, from which it goes to other devices via GPRS communication. So, you can send your signature under a document with a pen playing a role of facsimile set. The company is going also to realize such function as recognition of a hand-written text before sending. Ericsson is panning to launch a trail lot of such pens in the Q4 and, probably, to start the mass production in the Q1 2002.

In the Q3 Ericsson will release a new phone - A3618 - a small and light model of the GSM standard with a large display and an optimal set of functions. A user can choose among red, green, blue and yellow backlight or set them for definite numbers, so that backlight may serve as a personal identifier. The phone is equipped with the T9 technology support to simplify text input and 10 templates for SMS. The A3618 has a screensaver, a vibra call and a calendar. This model has all best from the A2628, with dimensions and weight being reduced. The capacity of the standard rechargeable battery is, however, cut down as well. Today the A3618 is produced only for the Asian market, but I hope a European version will also appear very soon. An estimated retail price is $120.

Samsung has released the thinnest phone - SPN-N2000, whose width doesn't exceed 1 cm. But it ships only to South Korea and is meant for exploitation in CDMA networks. In its characteristics the phone is similar to the most of business models of this company.

The most important event of June is publication of photos of PDA prototypes from Psion. The devices, for the first time shown at CeBit in April, were not available for more mortals - nobody knew how they looked like. Now you can see them on the photos. The communicators are codenamed Ace and Halo, work under the Epoc OS from Symbian and are meant for third generation networks.

Pocket organizer-communicator ACE is equipped with three displays hidden in its case. When unfolded, the device allows using them all: for example, to participate in a video conference, look though a timetable and play games. Or you can just watch a movie on one of them.

In the center of the case there is a trackball with a video camera attached to it. The trackball hides transmitters of the 3G mobile communication and Bluetooth wireless communication. A special unit is intended for charging batteries and for synchronization with a personal computer. When three displays work simultaneously, the batteries work a maximum of 3 hours.

The second device, HALO, is a projector-communicator to be worn on a neck. The HALO is used for projecting images on any suitable surface. It is also equipped with a digital camera and a Bluetooth module. The latter allows projecting, for example, a screen of an organizer to look through a timetable. The HALO is controlled via a microphone located on the level of a user's neck. Besides, there is a speaker and a unit for charging batteries.

German company Vitaphone launched a mobile phone for people suffering from cardiac decompensation. With this device a patient can check his heart rate and send the data to his doctor. For this purpose the phone must be pressed against the chest for 40 sec, and 4 sensors will measure the parameters of palpitation. The whole information is sent automatically to the service center where a doctor on duty will analyze it and call an ambulance if necessary. If everything is Ok, a user can get the results on the definite Web-site or via e-mail. The phone will cost approx $690 and a cost of providing service is about $40 a month.

The TopSec phones selling in Europe provide an enhanced listening protection. The model is a modified Siemens S35i and costs $3000. The representatives of Rohde & Schwarz say the phone is meant for large corporations and organizations.

The company is not planning to sell the TopSec on the American market today, but it estimates a volume of a world market of these devices to be 20-30 thousand of potential users. The phone uses the 128-bit data coding technology and the 1024-bit authotenfication one. By the way, modern Internet-browsers also use 128-bit coding algorithms in a secure connection mode.

Compaq Computer announced a new series of notebooks called Evo C with a possibility of mobile communication via the CDMA standard (Code Division Multiple Access). The CDMA standard from Qualcomm is prevalent in the USA and Asia. I should remind you that Compaq is already selling models with GSM connection modules.

Texas Instruments Inc (TI) introduced TCS2100 GPRS chipset and a respective software set for phones supporting a packet data transfer mode (GPRS). The chipset consists of a modulation unit, a unit with a DSP-processor from TI and a RISC-processor from ARM, a radio-frequency unit with a direct frequency transformer on one chip. The programs supplied with the chipset allow using it in GSM networks where a GPRS mode is supported, as well as to realize different applications such as voice recognition, acoustic echo suppression and voice amplification, the Bluetooth, Java, WAP technologies. The first samples are already shipping for testing, and the mass production must start in the Q3.

Mobile communication has penetrated deeply in our lives. Austrian Railways company, for example, is now changing windows: old ones weren't very good for passing through of mobile signals because of a transparent layer of metals in glass. The window replacement will cost the company some $6900 for one carriage.

Now let's talk about aviation, in particular about radars and war-plane. Ordinary radar systems, as a rule, can't detect invisible planes in the sky based on the Stells technology. But the experts from Roke Manor Research company state that they have discovered a way of precise detection of position of such planes with equipment of a usual mobile network.

The system developed by Roke Manor Research uses a technology of tracking of distortions appearing when speaking on a mobile phone. If an invisible plane flies over antennae of the cellular communication, a signal reflected from a fuselage picks up definite noise, according to which they can calculate coordinates of the plane. The matter is that a lower part of such planes reflects radio signals perfectly. But the details are not open since the works conducted by Roke Manor Research are secret.

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