Vtech, the global leader in electronic toys, is to launch a range of low-cost devices for consumers to access their email.
The devices, dubbed e-Mail Express and e-Mail PostBox, will be targeted at consumers looking for a quick and cheap way of sending and receiving email without a PC.
The devices were unveiled at Internet World in New York along with an interactive website which will also enable Vtech customers to make purchases online.
Both devices have been designed to offer one-touch operation for sending and receiving email from any standard phone jack.
"The idea is to make email communication as easy as possible in order to address a mass market," explained Jude Dieterman, president of the information appliance division of Vtech.
"For example, we know that a large number of recent college students have become accustomed to email but can't afford a computer right away.
"We also believe it will appeal to older retirees who want a cheap way of communicating with family and friends, as well as teenagers and families."
e-Mail Express is a portable, handheld device weighing less than seven ounces, while the e-Mail PostBox features a full size keyboard, larger screen, parallel printing port and support for up to five individual mailboxes.
Both devices include a security function that allows parents to monitor and restrict children's email activites, and an email filter that blocks unwanted spam and junk email.
e-Mail Express is priced at $79.99 and e-Mail PostBox at $99.99. Vtech's email service for both devices will be charged at less than $10 per month.
The devices will initially only be available in the US, but are expected to launch in Europe in the spring.
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