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Casio to offer Net-capable phones

Casio is set to serve up its own twist on Internet telephones for the consumer market.

Casio is set to offer its own $100 twist on Internet telephones for the consumer market.

The Japanese electronics company's first foray into the market

Casio's IT-380
Casio's IT-380 lets users browse email
for devices that merge Internet and phone functions will be a small product called the CP-820. It comes with a proprietary "modem monitor" technology that can prevent people from making a call during an online session or fax transmission.

With the technology, users won't have to worry about having a large file transfer interrupted when the phone is picked up in another part of the house, company executives said. Casio eventually expects to place the technology in all of its new phones.

Later this year, Casio will roll out another version that has a small LCD display for checking email. It works by automatically dialing up online service providers (provided they support industry standard protocols). Only a few lines of a message are displayed, and users can't respond to messages using the system; users also can't surf the Internet.

Casio said the product is being targeted as casual email users as well as home offices without additional phone lines--in short, people who wish to check their email quickly. If a matter is pressing, users can then access their mail on a computer.

Other companies have come out with similar phones that add keyboards, faster modems, and larger displays. Samsung, Alcatel, Northern Telecom and Uniden are among those who have released screen phone devices which allow users to take phone calls, send and receive email, and browse the Internet.

However, these phones have generally been priced in the $400 to $500 range, while Casio's phone will be priced at between $129 to $149.

The IT-380 will be available in July. The CP-820, which is a cordless phone operating in the 900-MHz band, will be available in retail stores for $99 by mid-June.