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3GSM Congress. Products by Panasonic
Panasonic decided to take over other manufacturers' experience and represent a whole product line based on several models. Variations of such parameters as the presence or absence of a camera, memory card connectors, screen quality allows various positioning of the models. The strategy is not new and the Panasonic's case differs in poor variety of models and thus phones look similar to a customer. And that is more stressed with the design passing from one model to another. Due to the absence of active advertising support of sales like Samsung has Panasonic will hardly take a qualitative jerk and increase its market share. More likely now the task is to take the maximum possible places on the shop shelves with minimum effort.
All the new models are equipped with a new function of recognizing emotion icons received in SMS and changing LED backlighting depending on them. For instance, you get an emotion icon containing an angry face the indicator then starts lighting in red and pulsing. Smiling face on the contrary produces a calm reaction. The technology expanding possibilities of usual devices is plain and clear to a user. All the manufacturers try to integrate an emotional component into their phones in this or that way and Panasonic achieved it in the most elegant and instinctively clear way.
Model A210 is the continuation of the company's low-end line. The difference from А200 is minimal, thus a light indicator and emotional SMS reading appeared. The weight and dimensions of the phone have slightly decreased. All the other characteristics are monotone; a 65K TFT screen with the resolution of 128x128 pixels is typical for this segment. The launch time depends on the current sales of A200 and so the device may be expected in the nearest future. The difference in the price with A200 is about 20 USD.
The same model with only a camera and IrDA integrated got the name of SC3. The new index results from the new company strategy and new product positioning. SC stands for Stylish Camera or Stylish Colour and as a rule products with such indexes belong to the middle class (and even closer to the lowest border of this segment).
Another product line is VS-series standing for Visual Slim. Here models with thin bodies will be represented and that is another one tendency of 2005. Let's remember the example of Motorola V3 RAZR, and Motorola V8 SLVR that will be launched later. Samsung also offers a line of such products and for instance, Samsung X610 that has lately appeared on the market. Panasonic decided to follow the tendency and succeeded in it. But to tell the truth VS phones are not miniature and are large-squared since miracles do not happen, unfortunately. And a functional product has not the least capacity.
The next product line is called MX (Maximum Endurance) these phones differ from the VS series in bigger size and expanded battery that provides about twice longer battery life. In battery life they achieve 450 hours' results and are comparable with the Xenium line by Philips. The difference is here up-to-date screens are integrated and the phones are functionally richer. Battery capacity exceeds 1600 mAh and that is comparable with many PDAs and that is a record battery capacity for a phone.
The SA (Sport Active) series is intended for those who lead an active life. The design is bright, according to the manufacturer the construction is solider and the phones are protected from hits, falls (this protection is relative). As different to the VS-series MX devices have no interchangeable panels and that seems logical for this class. By the way interchangeable panels in all the devices are implemented similarly to А500 and are fixed with 4 screws thus you only need to untwist them and set a new panel from the package. Read about the procedure in the review Panasonic A500.
And now let's speak about the 6 new models introduced in all the series. By the highest standards we deal with one maximum two phones with derated characteristics. Thus Panasonic VS3, MX6, SA6 is the same device. In the VS3 case the battery is thin and thus it turned less in size. All the three devices are equipped with a 1.3-megapixel camera, 2.2" screen showing 16 million colours (24 bits) and having the resolution of 320x240 pixels. The picture quality does not differ from the already represented and being sold models with 262K screens. Comparison with Samsung D500 not only sows Panasonic inferiority but subjectively it is much worse in the picture quality. The colour depth announced is more a marketing move than real characteristics of the devices. And having a possibility to compare with Samsung SCH-S250 we can surely claim they are inferior in quality.
Unfortunately, the company did not represent detailed specifications of these devices and at the exhibition you were not permitted to study the filling of the phones. We tried to understand what the devices are considering by that incomplete information. First, all the three models have IrdA but Bluetooth is absent (it may be found in devices with the number 7). Memory capacity is the most intriguing value and it is likely to be increased in future, this question is not decided yet. Automatic opening mechanism is used in all the models and it is similar to already sold devices. On key press the phone opens and is closed only manually.
These three models are expected on the market in the middle of the summer, the price difference will be minimal; VS3 will be overpriced to reach the level of the two other phones and that raise is for a fashion component. The price will form about 350 USD.
The 7-series models have a camera resolution increased to 2 megapixels, an external 65K TFT screen appeared. Bluetooth is supported as well as IrDA. The resolution of the internal screen remained the same and its diagonal increased from 2.2" to 2.5". The models are to be launched in the end of the autumn with the expected price of about 425-450 USD.
Model X800 is the continuation of the smartphone line. A 1.3-megapixel camera appeared and in all the rest the model is typical for the 60-platform and resembles the previous device. This renewal is designed like the last models by the company. At the exhibition the phone was not represented at all and it should be expected in the late autumn. Remembering the X700 problems we can suppose this device may be launched even later.
Glancing over the represented new models we can undoubtedly claim they are interesting for the permanent worshipers of the brand but not new customers.
Eldar Murtazin (email@example.com)
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