Japan’s Spring handset blitzkrieg is on the attack. Just last week, DoCoMo launched the first barrage with the five-model 901iS-series of phones boasting PDF file navigation capabilities and a four-megapixel model, the D901iS. Today, KDDI counterattacked with a press conference at the New Takanawa Prince Hotel announcing five June-release au handsets to support live analog TV reception and ramped-up EZ television features — plus a new SafetyNavi GPS function.
The handsets: W32SA by Sanyo; W31CA by Casio; W31T from Toshiba; A5511T also Toshiba; and the A5512CA by Casio. They integrate a mix of music and business functions: download capacity for attached mail has been expanded and one of the models, the W31CA, has a 3.2-megapixel camera, which is pretty good (but not as good as DoCoMo’s latest).
Previously, in order to save on packet fees, KDDI’s WIN platform EZ Channel provided late-night video content downloads for later viewing. Flat-rate services have now produced an EZ Television channel for live analog terrestrial TV programming right to the mobile. Dubbed “interactive TV” by KDDI, the new handsets can record TV theme songs, soundtracks and commercial jingles as BGM (background music) via the Chaku Uta full music download feature. There’s also a search & buy function for CDs used in programs or commercials. For an extra fee, users can subscribe to Premium or Deluxe EZ TV services. Premium costs an additional 210 yen/month and adds remote recording functionality; Deluxe allows users to pre-register names and programs for automatic recording at 315 yen.
Parents and perhaps a significant number of spouses will applaud (or vilify) Safety Navi?fs Big Brother GPS location minder. KDDI?fS new service has users set certain destinations through the phone?fs navigation network – school, work, club, wherever. When the person arrives at the designated area, the phone sends an email to a family member (mom/dad/husband/wife/parole officer) and when they leave it sends an email as well so loved ones – or god forbid the boss – knows you are on the move. The service is designed with nervous parents in mind; high profile crimes against children have families and schools on edge here. Spin offs to businesses with wandering employees and spouses with wandering lovers to keep track of seem inevitable.
W32SA works as an infrared remote control for TV and in the car can function as a transceiver for domestic FM stations via Chaku Uta full mode (full song download). Safety Navi is built in and there is an autofocus 1.26-megapixel camera.
W31CA is a CDMA 1X WIN 3-G model with 2.36 mega pixel camera to handle photos right up to QXGA size (2048X1536 dots); 2.6 inch QVGA LCD screen; PC site viewer and PC document viewer; Safety Navi.
W31T has a 2.36 megapixel camera that can also handle UXGA photos size; PC site viewer; Safety Navi; Chaku Uta Full; Blutooth data exchange and printer function.
A5511T is compatible with EZ Television?fs interactive TV features and Chaku Uta Full; super dictionary mode of 136,000 words; SD memory card; 1.30 mega pixel camera
A5512CA is equipped with a 1.28 megapixel camera; compact body styling, lots of watch-style features from a stopwatch and countdown timer to analog clock; Safety Navi, plus a 80 decibel safety buzzer for those long walks in the dark.
– Gail Nakada