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Panasonic VS3 and VS7 (and SA6, SA7, MX6 and MX7)

Discontinued
15th February 2005

 Panasonic VS3 closed The Panasonic VS3 (pictured right) is a slim handset at just 18mm thick and a large 2.2" QVGA (240x320) pixel display capable of up to 16 million colours, which would make it the best screen on the market, even better than the offerings from Sharp. There's a 1.3 megapixel digital camera on the outside capable of taking video clips.

Other than the screen, camera and impressive slimness of the device, there's not much going on. This is a tri-band GSM phone with GPRS. It supports MP3 ringtones, but it doesn't appear to have a standalone MP3 player, and there's no removable memory. There's no Bluetooth either. Although the Panasonic VS3 has a WAP 2.0 browser, it doesn't seem to have an email client. There's one push auto-open and exchangeable covers though, if those sort of things are important to you.

Although the 16 million colour screen sounds impressive, it really only represents a shift from 6 bits per pixel on 262,000 colour displays to 8 bits per pixel. It is unlikely that most users will notice any discernable difference. And by the time the VS3 hits the market 1.3 megapixel cameras will be pretty standard. Panasonic have slated the launch date as Q3 2005, although we wouldn't be suprised if the actual launch date slipped badly.

 Panasonic VS7 There's a variant of the VS3 with a longer battery life called the MX6, and also a toughened version for outdoors use called the SA6. From the details we have at the moment, it might well be that the MX6 has 10 hours talktime and 20 days standby by including a double-capacity battery.

The Panasonic VS7 (pictured left) takes the same design concepts as the VS3 and adds a slightly bigger screen (2.5 inches), additional external display and a 2 megapixel digital camera, housed in a slightly thicker case at 19mm.

Again, from what we can tell, the VS7 lacks the same features that the VS3 lacks, meaning that beyond the screen, camera and size there's not a lot going for this phone. As with its sibling, there's a ruggedised version of the VS7 called the SA7, and one with a high-capacity battery named the SA8.

We're not keen at all on the two VS-series of phones, because they don't seem to deliver much beyond their headline features. The two variants look much more useful though, as ruggedised phones are still few and far between and the inclusion of a high-resolution camera with video recording capabilities could be a novel and useful feature. Supplying the handsets with double-sized batteries is also a clever but simple idea that should appeal to many.

Although this looks like six phones, really they are all pretty much the same. Whether or not they can turn around Panasonic's fortunes remains to be seen.

 

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