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A landline phone that thinks it's a PC

VTech's 'infoPhone' gets personalized feeds

Home telephones are like TV sets of the '70s and '80s--except for the cordless breakthrough, technology has seen scant change compared with other consumer products. VTech wants to change that with its new "infoPhone" (not to be confused with the iPhone, thank you very much).

The landline handset is designed to handle many functions that most people reserve for the computer. As Gadgetell says, "The new ip8300 infoPhone uses the Internet to access information directly on the cordless handset's color LCD screen, including news headlines, weather reports, horoscopes, local directory searches and more"--all according to personalized feeds carried wirelessly through new DECT 6.0 technology (which, as every schoolboy knows, stands for Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications).

If it makes sense for any phone manufacturer to go in this direction, it would be VTech. The company has long tried to make technology friendly to the everyday consumer, starting with its extensive line of toys. But trying to turn the home phone into a household's main Internet conduit is a risky proposition: Other industries have made similar attempts with TV sets and game consoles, only to lose out to the computer. And if any phone is going to horn in on this turf, a mobile handset would seem to make more sense.

Then again, at least some companies seem to think that viable markets exist for such products as a computerless e-mail printer. And remember, some people out there are still using some variation of WebTV. Enough said.