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CES Mobile Phone Round Up, Dullsville Edition

It is after 9 AM out here in Las Vegas and most of the day's major news items are public. So far there have been several snoozeworthy mobile phone announcements and not much else. Not a single smartphone has been officially introduced. Here are some brief looks at what we've seen so far.
It is after 9 AM out here in Las Vegas and most of the day's major news items are public. So far there have been several snoozeworthy mobile phone announcements and not much else. Not a single smartphone has been officially introduced. Here are some brief looks at what we've seen so far.Saturday, January 5: CES Unveiled: This was the press' first chance to spy some new gear at CES. The line to get in was long. Some 2,600 journalists RSVP'd and judging by how difficult it was to squeeze your way around the room, everyone showed up. Samsung and LG were two of the few handset manufacturers there. Neither had any new devices. One company had prototype Linux-based smartphones and the executive I spoke to said the same hardware will be running Android later this year. But the demo units were not fully operational. Otherwise, this event was a bust.

Sunday, January 6: Digital Focus: This is typically the biggest mobile event of the week at CES. Unfortunately, there were only a handful of new handsets on display.

LG - Again, nothing new.

HTC - Nothing new. Not even any new colors. C'mon, where are the Android prototypes??? Actually, one of the HTC reps I spoke with said he is using an Android phone at work, and that it is incredible. He didn't bring it to the show, though.

Motorola - Moto saved its big handset announcement for late Sunday night, holding a press conference at 9 PM (seriously, Moto, 9 PM on a Sunday???). It dropped the ROKR E8 music-based device and the Z10, an update to the Z8. The E8 is nifty in that is has no buttons on the front of the phone at all. It is completely touch-based. Unlike the iPhone, though, most of the front is dedicated to a virtual keypad, scroll wheel and other control buttons. Only a very small portion of the top of the phone is that actual display. The Z10 is slightly more exciting, but really only adds a video editing feature over the original Z8.

Nokia - Nokia was showing off two new versions of the N95 for the U.S. The first is a version of the N95 8GB that is compatible with AT&T's 3G network. This is cool. The N95 8GB features a bigger screen than the original and all-black styling. It is a sweet-looking phone. Nokia also mentioned that the standard version of the U.S. N95 will now be coming in red. Woo-hoo.

Palm - Palm had the latest Treo devices as well as the Centro on display. Not a big surprise.

RIM - RIM had no no hardware except some new colors for the 18-month-old Pearl. It now comes in pink for Verizon Wireless, and a matador red for Sprint. Yippee.

Samsung - Again, nothing new.

Sanyo - Nothing new.

Sony Ericsson - SE had more to crow about than anyone else. It dropped three new phones, one of them a high-end Walkman phone. I had an opportunity to play with all of these. The W760 was actually quite cool, and includes an accelerometer for gesture controls of games and other applications. It also has specific gaming buttons and is a slick piece of hardware. Unfortunately the demo units on hand were not fully functional, and crashed often. Leave it to SE to bring non-working devices to a trade show. Same goes the for Walkman-branded W350. They didn't even have one that could be turned on. It was just a model mock-up. The lower-end Z555 was more fully realized, but because it didn't have an active SIM, most functions didn't work. But all three phones are stylish, and the two Walkman models boast some nice features. Are any of the business worthy? Nope.

Stay tuned for more news, or reports on the lack thereof...

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