Nokia flashes new megapixel camera phone

Declaring mobile imaging here to stay, Nokia on Wednesday unveiled its first megapixel camera phone at the Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany, replete with imaging applications and the ability to send images to a printer via a Bluetooth wireless connection.

The Nokia 7610 boosts a megapixel camera (1152 x 864 pixels), 65,000 color screen and 4x zoom, along with an MP3 music player and smart phone features that allow users to manage and edit digital images. It can also create short films of up to 10 minutes and with the Movie Director application users can add special effects and music to the video clips.

The tri-band phone is due to be available during the second quarter of this year in two versions -- one for GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) 900/1800/1900 and the other for GSM 850/1800/1900 -- at a price of €500 (US$613), the company said.

In addition to being able to print by sending images to compatible printers via Bluetooth, users can also use Nokia photo kiosks, which are being deployed worldwide, and other photo kiosks, as well as upload photos to online services, the company said.

With the new imaging phone, the company is setting its sights on capturing what it believes to be a lucrative part of the mobile imaging business: storage, management and sharing.

"Mobile imaging is on an explosive growth path," said Juha Putkiranta, the senior vice president of Nokia's Imaging Business unit, adding that the biggest part of the digital imaging market will be in "saving and sharing memories."

In that vein, the company also announced a Nokia Image Album device, which has a 20G-byte hard drive to store and manage digital images and video clips, and a Nokia Image Viewer SU-5 with remote control, which allows users to view images caught on their compatible Nokia phones on a TV screen or video projector. No pricing details were given for the new devices, which are due out in the third and second quarter of this year, respectively.

While the world's largest mobile phone company declined to give details on upcoming 3G (third-generation) phones, company executives hinted that a megapixel imaging phone would be perfectly suited for the platform. Putkiranta did say, however, that the company plans to roll out more 3G phones later this year, and that it is "happy" with the progress that operators are making in expanding their 3G networks.

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Scarlet Pruitt

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