Magazine Article


Photo Phones Test the U.S. Waters

Despite the availability of such services, a San Francisco-based company called Total Mass believes it has built a better mousetrap for printing images from your cell phone. Total Mass announced late last November it had created an application called "Longstreet" that provides 3G (third generation) mobile phone users with "one screen, one button, instant ordering" of prints from their phones.

"It's dirt simple," said Jim Torres, vice president of Business Development for Total Mass. "With Longstreet, you see the image, you press 'buy,' and it's done. With other services, you have to save the image, go look at the image, send the image, order the image, confirm the order of the image, etc., etc. It's a nightmare."

To use Longstreet, subscribers download the application directly to their phone, which installs a special touch-screen template where they can choose between saving, sharing and printing their images.

According to Total Mass, Longstreet prints are scratch and sun damage resistant and can be delivered by "location based Longstreet enabled kiosks or via regular mail." The company is also offering photo print stickers similar to those used in Polaroid's i-zone instant cameras.

Total Mass hopes to begin providing Longstreet as a private label service to U.S. carriers in early 2003. In the mean time, MangoFoto, a Total Mass subsidiary based in Sacramento, CA, was slated to start distributing Longstreet by early January.

To give a brief rundown of what's out there right now, PTN looked at four of the hotter digital camera cell phones on the market as of press time. More of these photo phones were expected to be unveiled at the CES International show this month.

Sanyo SCP-5300 Billed as "America's first built-in camera phone," the SCP-5300 offers a host of features previously available only in Japan. The phone, co-released last November by Sprint PCS, includes a built-in VGA (640 x 480) digital camera with digital zoom, portrait flash and Vision-enabled wireless voice and data communication capabilities. The 5300 supports PCS Vision applications including downloadable, Java-based games, animated ringers and screen savers. The phone's 2.1-inch internal color screen supports 65,536 colors. All this, however, comes at a cost: $399.99

Easy printing of digital images directly from a photo cell phone will be offered by MangoFoto.

Sony Ericsson T68i While the T68i can also take pictures, you need to buy the CommuniCam MCA-20 digital camera accessory to do so. On the upside, the CommuniCam is a small device, which easily snaps onto the T68i, allowing the user to take and send VGA-quality images as an MMS-message or an email via the phone's built-in Bluetooth wireless technology. Images captured with the CommuniCam can also be used as a background on the T68i's color display. While the T68i retails for $369, we've seen it for as little as $99 on the Internet. The CommuniCam costs an extra $130.

Motorola T720i Like the Sony Ericsson phone, Motorola's T720i requires an attachable digital camera accessory. Unlike the Sony Ericsson though, the T720i's camera features a 180-degree rotating lens for taking images from a variety of angles. The digital camera is specially designed for low-light performance such as when shooting indoors or on cloudy days. The camera can capture, store and send images to email addresses. The digital camera shares memory with the phone for all digital applications, and can store up to 48 photos. The phone with camera retails for $249 after rebates.

Samsung SPH-A500 By itself, the SPH-A500 is a sleek, stylish "flip" phone with a host of features that would be sure to satisfy any cell phone user. With its bulky camera attachment, however, it looks basically like a digital camera jacked into a cell phone. If you can get past the clunky aesthetics, then the set-up is perfectly adequate for taking and sending low-resolution images wirelessly to friends. Pricing for this phone and the camera attachmentwhich is offered only through Sprintwas not available.ptn