Review: Pantech Perception for Verizon Wireless
The Perception offers the stock Android 4.0 music and video tools, plus a handful of extras. The Google Play Store is, of course, available for purchasing and renting music, movies, TV shows, books, and magazines. The Perception also has a simple music player and simple video player app available for playing side-loaded content, in addition to the YouTube app. Slacker is on board, as is the Amazon MP3 app.
Beyond these, the Perception stocks the Verizon NFL app and Viewdini. The NFL app needs no intro. Viewdini is an app that's meant to help people find video content, whether it be online or on their TV. You can use it to search through the guide from your TV provider as well as see what's playing on Hulu, Netflix, and other video providers. It works fine if you can't find anything else to watch on your 500 channels at home.
The Perception uses the same camera app that we saw on the Discover. There's no dedicated button, but the app opens quickly thanks to the lock screen shortcut.
The on-screen camera controls are laid out plainly enough down both the left and right sides of the screen. Perhaps my favorite control feature is a little button that lets you toggle the HDR shooting mode on and off without having to dive into the deeper menu settings.
The full settings tools let users adjust most facets of the camera's behaviors (scenes, exposure, effects, image quality, and so on) without too much fuss. You can also customize which icons are available on the top-level menu.
The Perception has an 8-megapixel camera and offered mixed results. Exposure and white balance were nearly always dead on, but focus was wildly inconsistent. The Perception's camera had a hard time locking down focus on a significant percentage of the pictures I took. You could tell right away when the Perception's camera didn't get the focus right, and it was frustrating when the phone wouldn't focus at all on perfectly normal subjects (city streets, for example). I found you'll get the best results if you use the touch-to-focus features. This may be a bug, so we've reached out to Pantech for answers.
As expected, I achieved the best results when taking photos outside, but the camera app gives you enough flexibility to make sure you can get good shots inside too (if you know what you're doing). The bulk of images I captured were good, with the out-of-focus shots dragging down the overall quality.
The Perception's video camera was better at recording HD video. The 1080p footage I captured looked sharp and clean. Focus and exposure were accurate the majority of the time and it didn't have any of the problems I saw with the camera.
The Perception uses the stock Android 4.0 gallery application. The app syncs with your online accounts for sharing and offers a decent selection of tools for modifying images after the fact. Photos can be cropped and rotated, red eye can be fixed, and a number of effects (sepia, B&W, etc.) can be applied for fun. You can also straighten images, flip them, sharpen them, and reduce bright spots.
There are 58 apps on the Perception, and you can't delete any of the ones that I'd qualify as junk (Zappos, VZ Navigator, Shark Dash, Real Racing 2). Thankfully, you can hide some of them, which essentially means they won't appear in the main app menu but still take up space in the phone's memory. There is still plenty of room for your own apps, though.
The Bluetooth functions on the Perception can be used for the usual tasks: phone calls and music, as well as file exchange. Calls sent through my car's hands-free system were very, very good, and music sounded excellent when sent to stereo Bluetooth speakers. I was particularly impressed with how calls sounded in Bluetooth headsets, as well.
The Perception includes the stock Android browser. The software performs as you'd expect from an Android device. It is very quick at surfing the web over Verizon's network and did a fine job of rendering web sites.
The Perception has a digital clock that's visible on the lock screen. It's a bit small, and the font a bit thin for my tastes, but I've seen worse. Though you can customize the lock screen shortcuts, you cannot alter the appearance of the clock.
The Perception ships with VZ Navigator and Google Maps/Latitude on board. They behave the same on the Perception as they do on other devices, and I didn't run into any trouble using them. The GPS radio of the Perception itself was nice and quick. It often took less than 10 seconds to locate me. Accuracy was within about 25 to 30 feet, which is good.
The last feature we'll discuss is the Perception's ability to perform certain actions based on movement that it senses. Just like the Samsung Galaxy S 4, the Perception can answer calls, browse through the photo gallery, and advance to the next track all with the wave of your hand. As with the GS4, you have to enable this feature in the settings menu. It uses the camera to sense when you've waved your hand in front of the device. It feels a bit silly, and you have to make a pretty big, sweeping movement with your hand in front of the phone to get it to work. The best use case it when your fingers are a mess because you're eating some BBQ and a call comes in. Rather than get the screen all slimy, just wave your hand over the phone and it will answer the call and send it to the speakerphone. It doesn't always work.