Kent is a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and has worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog, or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Audiovox is marching to a new beat in the hopes of capturing the youth market with the introduction of its Vox 8610. Designed solely for Virgin Mobile's pay-as-you-go service and integrated with teen-friendly features, the flip phone also marks the launch of two new Virgin Mobile offerings: song ID and musical "superphonic" ring tones. Introduced at this year's CTIA, the Vox 8610 will hit stores soon, with a $119.99 price tag that puts it in the middle of Virgin Mobile's handset lineup.
Upside: Music is the main theme here. The Vox 8610's
superphonic ring tones, available through the carrier's Web site, will deliver actual musical clips from selected artists while Music ID, available on all Virgin Mobile phones beginning in April, will allow users to get information about songs they hear on the radio. After dialing *ID and recording 15 seconds of clear audio, Virgin Mobile will then send a text message with the song title and artist. The Vox 8610 also improves on Audiovox's first Virgin Mobile phone, the CDM-8500, by adding a 65,000-color internal screen. Other features include a black-and-white external display, a two-way speakerphone, and access to a variety of content via the MTV wireless portal.
Downside: The added musical features are not cheap. The superphonic ring tones are $2.50 each, and using the Music ID feature will cost $1 a pop, in addition to the airtime needed to record the song--both pricey options for teenagers or students.
Outlook: Competition for the prepay-plan youth market is heating up, and the Vox 8610 is bereft of features such as multimedia and instant messaging found on other teen-oriented phones such as the Kyocera Slider SE47.
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