Nextel Back With A Vengeance As Sprint Announces New Devices

In his keynote address at CTIA, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse defended Nextel and its push-to-talk capabilities and added that Sprint this summer will be switching its push-to-talk (PTT) network to CDMA. According to Sprint, push-to-talk is what sets Sprint apart from the pack and enables collaboration and productivity.

Push-to-talk, which was widely popular a few years ago, has decreased in usage with the rise of text messaging and mobile email. With one tap of the button Sprint push to talk enables a walkie-talkie like conversation between users, who are notified of a pending conversation with Nextel's well-known electronic chirp.

Sprint chief marketing offer John Garcia said Nextel Direct Connect gives users the ability to be more productive by providing connectivity between users in less than one second.

"Sprint customers rely on Nextel Direct Connect for instant communication at the push of a button, allowing them to do more, faster," he said in a statement.

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With push-to-talk on its mind and back on its radar screen, Sprint unleashed a host of new devices at CTIA, six of which are Nextel phones.

First among the lineup are the rugged Pro-700 and clamshell Pro-200 from Sanyo. Both models will have GPS navigation and support Bluetooth wireless and mobile email. The Pro-700 is certified to military standards for dust, shock and vibration and will start at $69.99 with a two-year service contract and $50 mail-in rebate. The Pro-200 will start at around $50 with a two-year agreement and rebate. Both devices offer push-to-talk, missed call notification and other functions to better enable instant communications.

Next, Sprint unveiled the Motorola V950. Aimed at the multimedia hungry crowed, the device features access to Sprint TV, the Sprint Music Store, Sprint PCS Picture Mail and Sprint Navigation. The device also features one-touch access to personal email and instant messaging accounts from most major services. The V950 measures 4.1 inches by 2.1 inches by 0.66 inches and weighs in at a hair over 4 ounces. It features stereo Bluetooth support, has a 2.0 megapixel camera and a host of other features. The V950 is also phone-as-modem enabled, meaning the Web-enabled device can connect to a PC via a USB cable, allowing wireless Internet and email access using the Sprint network.

The LX 400 by LG Electronics is another clamshell which weighs in at 3.27 ounces. It features push-to-talk, Bluetooth wireless connectivity and a digital camera with Picture Mail and GPS navigation. It also supports applications like mobile email, SMS and MMS messaging and instant messaging. This burgundy-colored device, which also features a speakerphone, weighs just over 3 ounces and measures 3.46 by 1.85 by 0.82 inches.

And pairings with Samsung are proving beneficial to Sprint, which unveiled its iPhone-like Samsung Instinct earlier this week. But on the push-to-talk front, Sprint unveiled the Samsung Z400 and Z700. The Z400 is a ruggedized clamshell with a 1.3 megapixel camera and a rubber casing. While not as rugged as the Sanyo Pro-700, the Z400 will be able to survive a decent drop on a job site. The Z700 clamshell is a step up from the Z400 and features a 2.0 megapixel camera, a microSD memory card slot and offers access to Sprint TV and Sprint's music services. The Z700 has a slightly larger display " 320 by 240 -- than the Z400's 176 by 220.

Along with its Nextel-based device, Sprint also unveiled several other devices at CTIA.

The Samsung Instinct is a touch-screen device looking to clobber the Apple iPhone with ultra-fast Internet speeds and a lower price tag " under $300, compared to the iPhone's $399 or $499 depending on storage capabilities. The Instinct measures 2.17 inches by 4.57 inches by 0.49 inches and weighs less than 4.5 ounces, Sprint said. It features advanced functions like Visual Voicemail, which lets users listen to messages in their order of preference and manage them with a screen tap. It also offers support for corporate and consumer POP3 email accounts, multitasking that lets users play music in background mode while surfing the Internet, texting or playing games; a 2.0 megapixel camera with camcorder and expandable microSD memory of up to 8 Gb. Other features include stereo Bluetooth 2.0; an integrated world clock, SMS voice and text messaging with threaded text, phone as a modem, picture caller ID and Sprint Mobile Sync.

The Instinct also offers Web browsing, business and personal email access, picture sharing, commercial-free radio and other features at broadband speeds. Additionally, the device opens up access to Sprint exclusive services and multimedia content including Sprint Navigation, a system powered by Telenav with GPS-enabled audio and visual turn-by-turn driving directions, one-click traffic rerouting and more than 10 million local listings; and live search, delivered through Microsoft, which offers access to director information, GPS-enabled directions, interactive maps and one-touch click-to-call access.

Along with the Instinct Sprint also welcomed the addition of the BlackBerry Curve 8330, the smallest BlackBerry smartphone to offer a full QWERTY keyboard, to its lineup.

The Curve supports exclusive multimedia content via the Sprint Music Store and Sprint TV. The device also offers access to personal and corporate email, contacts, calendar, tasks, a camera, GPS navigation and Web browsing. Other features, like an advanced media player for music, video and photos, Bluetooth support and a card slot for microSD cards add additional functionality.