Travelers who frequent remote locations just got an interesting new option for staying in touch while on the go. AT&T and TerreStar have teamed up to bring us a new phone called the Genus that will offer the ability to seamlessly transition off of AT&T’s 3G network and onto satellite service.
According to this story
over at the Nat Geo Adventure blog
, the Genus is a smartphone running Windows Mobile 6.5 (Which doesn’t make it all that “smart” at all! Ha!) that strongly resembles a Blackberry. It comes equipped with a physical keyboard, a 2.0 megapixel camera, Bluetooth, WiFi, and the ability to record both audio and video.
Those specs lag behind pretty much every other smartphone out there, except the Genus has that one trick up it’s sleeve in that it can jump to satellite service when necessary, which will probably be pretty often considering AT&T’s coverage. (Ha again!) You can even surf the web and send e-mails from the device, although Nat Geo says that it costs $5/megabyte, so go easy on the tweeting.
There is one rather large caveat to the Genus however. It seems that it only works in North America for now, which greatly reduces its usefulness for most people. They even go so far as to say that it works best in the U.S., and while cell coverage is far from universal here in the States, I have rarely ever wished for satellite service when I couldn’t use my cell.
Still, the phone represents a nice step forward in the satellite phone market. I’m sure we’ll soon see similar devices that offer better worldwide coverage, which will make them a real draw for adventure travelers. The Genus is available now for Government and Enterprise customers. Others will be able to get it later in the year at a price of $799.
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