ESPN Mobile Taps Sanyo for Multimedia Phone

Sanyo today unveiled the Sanyo MVP, a multimedia phone built exclusively for ESPN Mobile.

Targeted to avid sports fans, the Sanyo MVP is designed to work on a high-speed “EVDO” (Evolution Data Optimized) wireless network, enabling it to deliver the ESPN programming at ultra-fast speeds, as well as fast Internet browsing, e-mail access and downloads.

The handset features jet-black housing and accent elements in ESPN’s signature red. Sanyo will make the phone available online for a limited time for the holidays with a nationwide retail launch scheduled for February 2006.

“Mobile ESPN has been built to deliver the best wireless sports content to our fans, and we are extremely proud to go to market with the Sanyo MVP as our launch phone,” said Manish Jha, senior vice president and general manager of Mobile ESPN. “The content, the performance and the aesthetic of the Sanyo MVP represent the best in wireless technology and will help effectively translate ESPN’s leadership in sports to the wireless medium.”

MVP Features

The Sanyo MVP is designed to provide real-time access to personalized sports content, including the ESPN BottomLine scores and headlines service. Gamecast offers a live, graphical representation of games, player and team statistics, ESPN video clips and game highlights, ESPN commentary and analysis, and sports alerts and fantasy updates.

The multimedia Sanyo MVP includes a high-resolution color display, an external color picture caller, built-in digital camera with flash, video recording capabilities, an MP3 music player and voice recorder.

Sanyo said the MVP’s 2.1-inch, 260K-color LCD display is larger, has a richer color palette and delivers three times as much resolution as a conventional cell phone display. It also has a 1.1-inch, 260K-color external LCD for referencing key information and for Picture Caller ID.

Beyond Sports

Beyond sports broadcasts, the MVP offers imaging and audio-capture capabilities, including a 1.3 Megapixel camera with a flash, digital zoom and macro switch for up-close pictures.

The phone is PictBridge-enabled, allowing a user to connect directly to a PictBridge-compatible photo printer and make 4″ x 6″ prints. The MVP can also shoot digital video, supporting clips up to 30 seconds long for wireless sharing or clips up to two hours long for storing on the 16 miniSD memory card, depending on the card size used.

Other key features of the Sanyo MVP include a high-quality speakerphone, voice-activated dialing, a WAP 2.0 Web browser, Java (J2ME) functionality, a personal information manager, and a host of additional tools and available downloads.

Ready for Prime Time?

When it comes to broadcasting over cell phones, Inside Digital Media senior analyst Phil Leigh is typically the skeptic. “How can you enjoy TV on a 2-inch screen?” is usually his first question.

However, Leigh told TechNewsWorld that he does believe this is a good move for ESPN. “I think there will be a number of young males that will be interested in this,” he said. “Sports is one of the few things that people don’t Tivo a lot because they want to see it live.”

Still, he said, cost might kill the dream. Consumers first have to buy the phone, then pay Sprint for the service, then pay an additional fee for ESPN broadcasting. “The payback for Sanyo will depend on how exclusive the content deal is,” Leigh said. “The payback for ESPN depends on how affordable the overall package pricing is.”

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