Fone-Tastic!

The Mobile World Congress 2009 expo in Barcelona – being held from February 16 to 19 – has thrown up quite a few surprises: The beginnings of a war between different operating systems for cellphones; the world’s first phone that acts as a projector; and a stylish handset with a transparent keypad.

INTERFACE TIME

Rival developers are battling to create the dominant operating system (OS) for mobile phones, with Google’s open-source Android system competing against Microsoft’s new Windows Mobile 6.5,Nokia’s Symbian, a Linux-based project, and RIM’s Blackberry OS.

The biggest event on Tuesday was Taiwanese manufacturer HTC unveiling the Android-based ‘Magic’ – a slim, tablet-shaped device with a 3.2-inch touchscreen that bears a resemblance to the Apple iPhone.

Equipped with a 3-megapixel camera, GPS, Wi-Fi, and other
connectivity options, the gadget will be available exclusively through Vodafone in Britain, France, Germany and Italy; however, no plans were announced for an India release.

On Monday, Chinese manufacturer Huawei had revealed its first cellphone to run on Android, meaning there are at least three ‘Google’ phones now developed.

Australian firm Kogan had previously announced the ‘Agora’ handset in December, but its launch has been postponed indefinitely. LG and Samsung have also promised their versions this year.

“For a new, open-source platform, I am impressed with the momentum growing behind Android,” said Gavin Byrne, an analyst at telecom research group Informa.

He said that he still expected Nokia’s Symbian to remain dominant in the next five years, but that Android would soon establish itself as an alternative.

Also on Tuesday, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the latest version of the company’s mobile OS,Windows Mobile 6.5,promising an improved touch-screen inter-face as well as a dashboard-like experience to items such as new emails, texts, missed calls, and calendar appointments.

“We’re going to work with the guys who build phones that are exciting... that are hot and tell the story of their Windows phone,” Ballmer said, announcing tie-ups with phone makers HTC, LG and Samsung.

The N95 should be shipping next quarter in the...Image via Wikipedia



TINY PHONE, BIG SCREEN

Meanwhile, Samsung – in association with US-based technology firm Texas Instruments – showed off a new mobile phone with a built-in projector that turns any surface into a screen.

Dubbed the ‘i7410’, the handset is fitted with the DLP Pico chipset, which lets users project images in excess of 50 inches, depending on the ambient light conditions, the company said.

“These Samsung mobile phones instantly turn any situation into a media-viewing opportunity,” said Frank Moizio, Manager, DLP Emerging Markets business.

Equipped with audio speakers, the i7410 is a touchscreen phone that comes with a 5-megapixel camera.

The projection feature can be used to share Powerpoint slides, view emails and pictures, watch videos, and even act as a flashlight.

The device will hit Korean markets this month, and international markets shortly thereafter.

Texas Instruments also showed off a newer iteration of the DLP Pico chipset, which boosts the current HVGA (480x320 pixels) resolution to a higher WVGA (800x480 pixels).

A SEE-THROUGH CELLPHONE!


The LG GD900 ‘Crystal’ see-through phone and the Android-powered HTC Magic (top) were launched at MWC

Adding oomph to the proceedings was LG’s GD900 ‘Crystal’ phone, which is billed as “the world’s first transparent design phone”.

When opened, its sliding, translucent keypad illuminates a cool glow that reflects the phone’s sleek and polished silver body.

“This crystal, glass-like phone proves that stylish design can be achieved not only with the use of vivid colours, but also by revealing the handset in its purest form,” the company said.

Packaged with a Bluetooth headset for music playback, the GD900 will be released internationally later this year.

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