Gadget Show Wristphone
Isaac Brekken  /  AP
LG Electronics Chief Technology Officer Woo Paik displays a wristwatch phone at a news conference during media day at CES.
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updated 1/7/2009 2:30:58 PM ET 2009-01-07T19:30:58

It looks like Dick Tracy may finally get his wristwatch cell phone, the one that does video calls.

LG Electronics plans to introduce a wrist phone later this year, giving reality a chance of catching up with the comic-strip hero who famously used a two-way "Wrist TV."

Several manufacturers already make wristwatch phones, but the LG model would likely be the first that can do video calls. It has a built-in camera and full cellular broadband capabilities, the company announced Wednesday at the International Consumer Electronics Show. No price was disclosed.

As demonstrated by LG's chief technology officer, Woo Paik, the phone is slightly more than half an inch thick and has a touch-screen interface with three buttons. It offers two hours of talk time on a single charge, Paik said.

LG didn't announce a U.S. carrier partner Wednesday, and no U.S. carrier sells any of the existing wristwatch phones. However, LG is one of the largest phone suppliers to U.S. carriers, and the wrist phone would be compatible with AT&T's network, so it could come to the U.S.

Neutrano Inc., a small Canadian manufacturer, was also at the show to demonstrate a wristwatch phone. It also has a touch screen, but lacks a camera and broadband capabilities. It will cost between $250 and $300, the company said.

With its tiny screen and short battery life, a wristwatch phone would be more suitable as a second phone, complementing more fully featured devices. U.S. carriers so far haven't attempted to sell more than one phone to each customer, and their plans and billing systems aren't designed for this. But in Europe, it's not uncommon to have several different phones for different occasions.

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