What's Hot

WHAT'S HOT

March 11, 2004|By Kevin E. Washington

Video cell phones are here, and they're pretty simple to use

Remember the promise of wrist-video telephones where you could see and talk into a watch-type device that would show a real-time picture of you to the person you're chatting with?

Well, we still don't have it, but we have gotten close.

Sprint has begun selling what I consider to be the next great innovation in cellular technology - video cellular telephones. You can't talk live to a friend who can see you on a telephone, but you can do the next best thing. Shoot 15 seconds of video and send it to someone else with a Sprint telephone activated for video or to an e-mail address.

My tests of the two video telephones in Sprint's lineup went relatively well. Sending video couldn't be simpler. Stick in an e-mail address or telephone number, then just hit the send button to get that video over to where you want it to go. The e-mail that the recipient receives isn't particularly large, though. Mine were no more than 250 kilobytes, small enough to not gum up most e-mail boxes.

The recipient can watch the video from a Sprintserver - a link is in the e-mail you receive - or the person can download a zipped video file, that is self-extracting. You can save the video to your hard drive for later viewing or burn it to disk, so that you can keep it for posterity.

The two Sprint PCS Vision telephones available now are the Sanyo VM4500 ($380) and the Toshiba VM4050 ($330). For both telephones, it's $150 off for signing a two-year agreement and $100 off for signing a one-year agreement under a cell phone contract with Sprint. Both, by the way, also shoot still digital images.

The only problem I had came while using the voice memo feature. You can append a voice memo to the video file, although why you would escapes me. Anyway, I could never get either telephone to send the e-mail when I used the voice memo function. So I skipped that part.

So the next time you want Grandma to see the kids cavorting on the Main Street at Walt Disney World, you need not haul your mini-digital video camcorder everywhere you go, then cart it home and download the video into a computer for manipulation to make it small enough to send via e-mail.

Just take the video phone, shoot a short movie, and ship it to Grandmother's e-mail.

Information: 888-253-1315 or www.sprintpcs.com.

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