Cool cellphones on show at CES

A survey of the latest phone hardware on show at the US Consumer Electronics Show

Motorola Rokr E8: a chameleon phone and MP3 player

Motorola introduced only two new phones, but each packed a lot of technological innovation. The Rokr E8's interface is almost completely based on lights beneath a glassy surface. Press the music icon, and the phone keypad vanishes, replaced by traditional MP3-player control keys. Turn it off, and it goes dark except for the scroll wheel. Due sometime in the first quarter of this year, the quad-band GSM/EDGE phone comes with the Song ID music-identification application and a built-in FM radio.

Moto Z10 puts a film studio in your pocket

As a phone, the Z10 slides open at an angle (Motorola calls it a kick slider) so that it cradles comfortably against the face. But its real innovation is in its on-board video editing software. Created by Arcsoft, the program looks very much like a desktop application, with a timeline (for dragging your clips), support for an audio track, and 15 transitions. It supports HSDPA broadband data networks as well as GSM/EDGE, so uploading video to ShoZu, Yahoo, or YouTube won't take too long.

In addition to capturing 30-frames-per-second QVGA (320 x 240) video, it functions as a 3.2-megapixel still camera, capable of taking up to three photos per second. Motorola says it can power up in 1.5 seconds, a lot faster than most camera phones; as a result, you're less likely to miss a nice shot while waiting for it to start functioning.

Sony Ericsson's chic phone shuts up when you shush it

Another interesting tech innovation is Sony Ericsson's handsome Z555, a clamshell with a brilliant, diamond-patterned exterior and a motion sensor (the diamond in the upper-right corner) that responds to gestures: if a call comes in at an inconvenient moment and you've forgotten to mute the handset, just wave over the sensor to quiet it down. The Z555 has an external display —an OLED screen that shines discreetly through the glassy surface that covers it — to let you see who's calling (which will help you decide whether you need to use the gesture-control feature). Sony Ericsson plans to release a pink version of this stylish phone in time for Valentine's Day.

A speedy Walkman

Sony Ericsson also introduced the first Walkman phone to support HSDPA in North America. The W760, a slider, is also a quad-band GSM/EDGE phone, so you can make calls on it in most of the world. It has built-in stereo speakers, and since it also packs a GPS chip, you can use it for navigation, too.

A flippable Walkman: Sony Ericsson's W350

A second Walkman phone making its debut at CES is the lower-end W350. This triband phone flips open at the bottom, yet still measures only 10mm thick. It comes with a Track ID music-identification feature that's similar to the Music ID app in the Rokr E8.

Samsung goes for style in a pair of designer handsets

You can't help but wonder what negotiating went on in deciding which brand name would go first when Georgio Armani and Samsung decided to collaborate on a fashion phone. Either Armani won — it's called the Georgio Armani-Samsung phone — or they just settled on alphabetical order. The handset has a touch screen, plays music, and captures stills with a built-in 3-megapixel camera.

Samsung sings a Bang & Olufsen Seranata

Samsung's second new fashion phone, the Seranata, is the result of collaboration with Bang & Olufsen. Distinguished by its rounded upper half and its superskinny profile, the Seranata supports high-speed European HSDPA, GSM, and EDGE data networks. It's also a music player, and the large aluminum wheel is for scrolling through tracks stored in memory.

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