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A NEW GIG FOR YOUR PHONE: NET SURFER

A LONGSTANDING QUEST FOR many companies is how to tap into the Internet without a computer, so they can hook nontechie buyers. One answer came last year from Philips/Magnavox and Sony. Their WebTV is a set-top box that lets folks surf the Web via the familiar television.

Next comes the good old telephone. A promising Internet ''appliance'' on display at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas was iPhone. Planned for a national rollout by fall, it is a joint product of CIDCO, a maker of caller ID and smart screen phones, and InfoGear, a developer of Internet-access devices and software. The phone contains a 7.4-in. backlit VGA monochrome touch screen large enough to let somebody view a complete Web page with no scrolling up and down. Touch a phone number at a Web site to make an instant call. iPhone has a small keyboard that slides out from under the console for you to compose E-mail.

The question is: Will consumers pay the price? iPhone will cost about $500. WebTV, at $300, beats that handily--although a PC can cost $1,000 or more.

By Edward C. Baig
EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT



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PHOTO: CIDCO iPhone

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