Amstrad once had a huge presence in Dixons branches up and down the land - commanding the bulk of UK sales of cheap-and-nasty stereos and cheap-but-not-quite-so-nasty PCs. These days it's best known for no longer being anything like so well known, and for the one remaining Amstrad product on Dixons' stock list (a product which Dixons co-produces) - the [email protected] phone-thing, as used by hardly anyone at all. (OK, as bought by 300,000-odd punters, if you happen to be a stickler for facts). Anyway, tomorrow Amstrad hopes to change all that, with the launch of the E3, an update to the [email protected] that reportedly adds video-over-broadband capabilities. Videophones have for years been seen most often in dodgy science fiction films rather than in real life, at least partly due to the fact that a typical videophone unit will cost £600 to £700 plus VAT, before call costs or line rental charges have even been considered. But Sneak expects Amstrad to rip up that price list, given that the current [email protected] Plus is sold for £29 - less than cost - with losses clawed back from call revenues. If the E3 costs more than £99.99 then Sneak will eat one. The telecoms partner in this case is reportedly Thus - a credible supplier - and at the right price the E3 could well kick-start a mass market for video telephony. Which will be nothing but bad news for the many people that Sneak knows who answer the phone naked. Or is that just in Sneak's imagination?
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