Motorola Unveils Bluetooth Phone

Bluetooth, a short-range wireless radio technology for connecting devices, inches closer to reality with Motorola Inc.'s announcement of the Timeport 270, its first Bluetooth phone.

Motorola unveiled the phone and other products here at the PCIA GlobalExchange wireless show Wednesday. The Timeport 270 has an integrated speaker phone for hands-free communication, and a wireless application protocol (WAP) browser for accessing Web content reformatted for display on a phone. It's scheduled to be available in the United States in December and will be marketed through carriers, which will set pricing.

The unit supports Bluetooth through a clip-on Smart Module that has a transmission range of 30 feet, the low end of the Bluetooth specification. Motorola says Bluetooth PC Cards and Universal Serial Bus add-ons for desktops usually offer a range of 300 feet but don't share the power limitations of a small handset.

Phone Bolsters Notebooks

Motorola expects consumers will choose Timeport 270 so they can use the phone as a wireless modem for a notebook computer.

"With the Bluetooth phone, users can access the Web through the Bluetooth phone without any wires," says Ron Garriques, corporate vice president and general manager at Motorola.

Motorola isn't the first handset maker to announce a Bluetooth-capable phone. In June, Ericsson showed off its Bluetooth-enabled T36 mobile phone, also expected to be available by the end of the year. But unlike the Ericsson phone, which runs on the Global System for Mobile communication network (GSM--used predominantly in Europe), Motorola's Timeport 270 supports tri-mode CDMA, which is one of the major networks in North America.

Motorola also markets Bluetooth PC Card add-ons for PCs, which can communicate with the Timeport 270.

"You can use the Bluetooth phone to connect to our Bluetooth PC Card and USB products," says Mark Powell, a director at Motorola's personal communications sector. Earlier this week, Toshiba began shipping its first Bluetooth PC Card, which uses Motorola technology.

Messaging Phones Debut

Motorola also unveiled two phones that put text ahead of speech in their design, but offered no pricing.

Targeting teens, the V100 phone is a colorful clamshell device that has a QWERTY keyboard for typing text messages. It's designed to be wearable, but the V100 is not a pager.

"This is a messaging cellular phone," Powell says. "It's for people interested in sending messages, but with a headset."

For more advanced customers, the Accompli 009 takes the messaging phone a step further. The 009 also has a clamshell design with a QWERTY keyboard, a WAP browser, and support for Short Messaging Service (SMS) functions, plus there's a color graphics display, a programmable operating system, and a POP3 e-mail client.

"This is really more of a remote office," Powell says.

Because the V100 and Accompli 009 use the SMS capabilities built into GSM, they are expected to appear first in Europe, this fall. U.S. customers must wait until the first quarter of 2001.

Motorola also unveiled a folding phone, the Timeport P8767. It adds a color display to the existing Timeport line, and uses green, red, and blue text to enhance clarity of characters. A tri-mode CDMA phone, the P8767 is expected to be available this year.

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