Smile, you're on pocket-size videophone

Electronics manufacturers keep squeezing more functions into cellphones, despite problems with such "convergence" that range from technical glitches to difficulty of use.

Several models already on the market let users send and receive e-mail. A handful also serve as personal digital assistants (PDAs). More advanced models can download music and play snippets of stored animation. Now: video.

Last week, the Japanese firm NTT DoCoMo unveiled a prototype of its FOMA phone (demonstrated, at right, by an NTT employee).

FOMA stands for Freedom of Multimedia Access. The phone, not yet widely marketed, can be used as a video recorder and to transmit video (as well as data) at high speeds. Experts say its base price, not including service, may exceed $400.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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