Sleek 20th-century style plus 2013 capability star in the Urban Hello phone

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Landlines are so passe, but French start-up Urban Hello wants to bring back the concept of a phone for the whole household.

Urban Hello's hi-def home phone

Urban Hello's high-definition home phone acts as a handset and a hands-free phone with a built-in 360-degree speaker. The stylish device has two OLED displays at the top and base, which activate only while in use. It was shown Sunday at the CES Unveiled press event.

Urban Hello founders Herve Artus and Catherine Seys designed the phone as a hub to communicate with loved ones via long distance after the French couple married and had children.

"We needed to call the grandmother, and my mother would call me when I was cooking," Seys said while showing off the phone.

Instead of craning her neck to chat while chopping carrots, Seys wanted to have a clear conversation while moving around her kitchen. Urban Hello was born.

How it works

The phone intuitively knows when you set it down to switch to hands-free and activate the speaker. Though the phone can be used as a handset, too, Seys said she expects most buyers to use it in hands-free mode.

Landlines are a throwback to old technology, and so is the phone's crisp, white, mid-century modern style. "We didn't want to copy an existing design," Seys said.

The pair modeled their phone after 1960s-era cylindrical telephones, which often had rotary dials on the base of the tower.

Urban Hello recently kicked off a Kickstarter campaign to raise about $160,000 for its first production run, which the startup plans to sell in the United States and Britain.

Urban Hello picked up a 2013 International CES Innovations award for the phone's unique design and features. This is the first year the company has exhibited at CES. With a love-it-or-hate-it design, Urban Hello's debut phone is a memorable one.

For more blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out our complete coverage of CES 2013.

This story, "Sleek 20th-century style plus 2013 capability star in the Urban Hello phone" was originally published by PCWorld.

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