Screenphones are consumer-oriented devices combining a telephone with a basic Web browser, letting people easily connect to the Internet. They can be divided into three broad product categories:

■ Low-end screenphone products (current price range $100–$150) – These use a very small LCD display and provide only the most basic access to limited Internet content such as text e-mail or text news. They usually allow only three to four lines of information on the screen.

■ Midrange screenphones (current price range $199–$399) – Midrange devices have a larger screen with a miniature keyboard. These products provide robust interactivity with limited Web browsing capabilities, through the use of ADSI (Analog Display Services Interface) scripts.

Vertical applications such as home banking and information-based service such as stock quotes, news feeds, weather, e-mail, sports scores, and more can be accessed from the Internet. In some cases, a user can create e-mail and browse the Web on a miniature keyboard. The variation in cost is due to features such as digital answering machines, cordless handsets, etc.

■ High-end products (current price range $400+) – These have a 7- to 8-inch color screen with graphics and touch-screen capabilities that allow e-mail, and Web browser (IP) functionality. Other, smaller applications include address books and notepads, as well as support for advanced network services such as caller ID and voicemail.

They have a touch-screen, retractable keyboard, and smart card reader. They are intended for quick Web-based transactions such as ordering pizza or downloading stock quotes. They usually include speakerphones and feature two-line capability, allowing for simultaneous Web browsing and voice communications over standard telephone lines.

Some of these also include digital answering machines. The first generation of this phone will connect with a 56-Kb/s modem that shares one phone line for Internet and regular phone calls. Future models will be able to handle two lines, as well as ADSL (using phone lines) high-speed connection techniques.

The Internet screenphone bears some similarity to other consumer Internet appliances, such as TiVo, that are intended to shield users from some of the complexities of the Internet. TiVo boxes automatically dial into the Internet over a phone line, but, in the future, TiVo plans to achieve high-speed Internet access using cable TV infrastructure.

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