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V CAST @ CES - When Verizon says Get It Now, they finally mean it

Eric Lin

vx8000Verizon wireless has launched EV-DO in 11 new metro areas today. Subscribers in Chicago, Houston, Boston, Phoenix, Cincinnati, Columbus, Orlando, Jacksonville, Providence, Hartford and New Haven (shwew!) will all have access to Verizon's 3G network, as long as they have a PC Card or the VX6600 Pocket PC phone. Verizon continues to ignore the entire northwest quadrant of the country, because, you know, no one in say Seattle is on the leading edge of technology. However on February 1, everyone in a city with EV-DO will be able to get high speed access on 3 new clamshell handsets, which we've already told you about, the LG VX8000, Motorola Samsung A890, and the UT Starcom (nee Audiovox) 8940. The phones aren't the exciting part, the VCAST content is.

The service will cost $15 per month for unlimited access to basic video clips and WAP content. Premium content like music downloads, 3D games, NBA, NASCAR and probably some exclusive video content will cost extra. All of the video content is produced specifically for the small screen, so it's not shmooshed TV clips but actual phone-centric video, and it looks sharp. Verizon won't just get exclusively formatted content, they'll also get exclusively produced content. Fox will create 3 new series specifically for the V CAST service, Love and Hate, 24 Conspiracy and Sunset Hotel. MTV and other broadcasters will also provide programs.

We got a chance to play with the service today, and we can tell you it lives up to Verizon's "Broadband Access" brand name. Video clips buffer in about 10 seconds and playback at TV-quality framerates. Downloading a 3D game (Kingdom Hearts bay-bee) only took about four seconds — for the whole damn game. When these phones launch, you won't regret  being the first in line for one at your local Verizon store.

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