For the past few years at the CTIA show, CNET has chosen our favorite products, and here in Orlando, Florida, we're glad to do it again. Products are selected on a variety of factors including design, features, and innovation in three main categories: best cell phone, best smart phone, and best cell phone accessory.
Sometimes our picks become big winners when they're introduced, and sometimes they don't live up to our full expectations, but our 2006 picks fared pretty well over the last year. And without further ado, we present CNET's Cream of the Crop for CTIA 2007:
Coolest cell phone: Samsung Upstage
Samsung and Sprint hit CTIA in full force when they announced the U.S. version of the Samsung Ultra Music the day before the show began. The Upstage earns points not only because it's completely innovative but also because it's actually a decent phone too. The unique dual-sided design successfully integrates a cell phone and an MP3 player into one device. You can listen to music, watch streaming video, take pictures, and yes, you can make calls too. It has its quirks to be sure and it's not for the gadget-phobic, but on the whole it's a sleek, satisfying device with admirable performance. Just be advised that during your first couple sessions, a dose of patience is needed. Again, it's not perfect, but it's a very positive step in a new direction. Indeed, it just makes us excited for the next-generation model. For a full report on the Upstage, read our review. We liked Sony Ericsson's slick new Walkman phone, the W580.
Coolest smart phone: HTC Advantage
To be perfectly honest, 3GSM World Congress stole a lot of thunder from CTIA 2007 when it came to introducing new smart phones. The event in Spain saw the debut of the HTC Vox, Motorola Q q9, three new Nokia E series phones, and much more. So what did that leave for CTIA? Well, not much. But that's not a bad thing since many of the companies announced plans to bring these models to the United States, including what we think was the coolest smart phone: the HTC Advantage. OK, we know the Advantage is more than just a smart phone, but we have to reward it for its innovation.The portable gadget features an 8GB hard drive, Windows Mobile 6 Professional Edition, a 5-inch VGA touch screen, and a magnetically connected full QWERTY keyboard. In addition, it's stacked with all the wireless connections you'd ever want (quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; GPRS/EDGE; 3G (UMTS/HSDPA), Bluetooth 2.0, and Wi-Fi. We're really looking forward to checking out this device when it's released in the summer. Also worth a mention is the much-coveted and now U.S.-bound Nokia N95.
Coolest cell phone accessory: Cardo S-800
The Cardo S-800 is our pick of favorite accessory due to one simple factor: it fits a lot of features in one tiny package. The lightweight 0.38-ounce Bluetooth headset is stylish and compact, with a lot of brainpower inside its petite form. Some of the more interesting features include a battery status indicator, a headset location buzzer, a missed call indicator, and even a "hot-dialing" button that lets you call up to three of your favorite contacts. As for sound quality, the S-800 also has a dual-microphone system that cancels out background noise. We look forward to reviewing the headset first-hand later this year.
Honorable Mention: Kyocera E5000
We have to admit we were impressed with Kyoccera's offerings this year.That's not to say the company hasn't done good work before, but at this year's CTIA it struck a brave new path. Of the five phones it introduced in Orlando, a couple featured completely new stylish designs that stood out from the cell phone crowd. And while some of the new handsets are indeed thin, Kyocera is not blindly chasing the thin phone crowd with another Razr look-alike. Instead, they're being a bit more creative, and that's why the Kyocera E5000 earns an honorable mention. Its stainless body and S-shaped hinge thin profile make it quite the looker, and it looked even better in Kyocera's fancy booth. The promised features aren't bad either, with a music player, a microSD card slot, a 1.3-megapixel camera, and stereo Bluetooth. We're a bit concerned about the usability of the flat keypad, and we don't know how well it will perform when it hits the streets, but we can say one thing: it sure is pretty,