A Better Idea For Smart Phones?

SO-CALLED SMART PHONES were supposed to be the hassle-free alternative way to go online. But these advanced phones, with their miniature keyboards and screens, never really took off, partly because most smart phones cost about $800 and required the cooperation of local phone companies or local banks to market and support the devices--with advanced services such as home banking. Now, US Order Inc., a smart-phone maker in Herndon, Va., thinks it has a unit that's cheap enough so that it doesn't need the marketing cooperation of a phone company.

Intelifone will be one of the first smart phones to be sold through major retail outlets such as Nobody Beats the Wiz and Computer City. The $300 device features a built-in 30-line liquid crystal display and a miniature keyboard, and it comes packaged with $7.95-a-month Internet service. Using the service, Intelifone owners will be able to send E-mail to any Internet address, get stock quotes and sports scores, and look up telephone numbers from a national directory. Although Intelifone isn't designed to surf the World Wide Web, US Order officials say the phone is "software upgradable" to offer new features and services such as home banking or new advanced phone network services such as Caller I.D. on Call Waiting. Intelifone is expected to be available at some retail outlets on Sept. 3.