Virgin Mobile USA Announces Cyclops With TXT Tones, VAM

See this two-tone red-and-white clamshell? It’s Virgin Mobile USA’s latest handset, the Cyclops made by Kyocera Wireless. It’s not new new, but it was officially announced today, so talking about it doesn’t make us feel as dirty. The big deal is it’s the first phone from the carrier to benefit from a licensing deal with Warner Music Group to use with VM’s TXT Tones service. It’s also the first handset to have Virgin Mobile Audio Messaging, or VAM, which is IM but with voice instead of words.

The music-based TXT Tones is basically a ringtone for text messages. So if you thought hearing someone’s ringer over and over again when they received a phone call was irritating, wait till you’re next to someone carrying on a text conversation. Each TXT Tone will run you $1.50 and if you want to take advantage of the WMG deal you better get to downloading ASAP; The catalog is only available from November 2 through November 14, 2006.

The VAM service is a bit like push-to-talk as it lets you set up a buddy list, record a message for someone on the list and hit send. If they’re available, they hear the message, if they’re not it sits until they are back. So it’s like a phone call and voice mail wrapped into one. The best part is, your conversations can be saved, so you can totally screw people over by getting them to say something and then playing it back for others.

The Cyclops will be available on Virgin Mobile’s site November 2 as well as in Best Buy stores for $99. It’s currently available from Best Buy’s Web site, though.

Virgin Mobile Cyclops at Best Buy [product page]