Review: NEC Terrain for AT&T
NEC's latest effort for the U.S. market is the Terrain, a rugged Android smartphone that offers push-to-talk and a full QWERTY keyboard. Here is Phone Scoop's full review.
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Is It Your Type
The NEC Terrain is fairly unique in today's smartphone market: It’s rugged, it runs Android, it includes push-to-talk, and it has a full QWERTY keyboard. If you're looking for a device that carries all four of these characteristics, the Terrain may fit the bill. Find out if it does or doesn't in Phone Scoop's full review.
The Terrain has a relatively small footprint for a rugged handset. It also has a somewhat bland and boring design. It's not as blunt as many of today's rugged devices, but it also isn't as interesting to look at (not that looks are everything.) A device such as this obviously shoots for function over form.
There is no doubt that the Terrain is somewhat chunky. Though the length and width are about the same as an iPhone 5, it’s thicker by a wide margin. It’s mostly black with a few gray accents thrown in for good measure. There’s a gray band that runs around the outer edge and a chrome-colored bar that separates the display and the keyboard. All the surfaces are matte with the exception of the chrome bar and a silver-colored ring that circles the camera on the back surface.
The materials are hardened plastics that have a soft-touch finish. The Terrain is a comfortable device to hold and use. It fits well in the hand and all the controls are within easy reach. Everything about the Terrain is tightly screwed together. The seams all fit well and there are no unseemly gaps. Due to its thickness and grippy finish, it doesn't carry well in a pocket. It'll fit, but it’s tough to fish out. You'll be better off using a holster of some sort.
The top two-thirds of the Terrain's front form the screen and the bottom third is reserved for the keyboard. The entire front face is rimmed with a thick plastic frame that puts some air between the screen and whatever surface the Terrain might be slapped down onto. The screen is a bit small, and this is amplified by the semi-thick bezel. There are no dedicated Android buttons. The back, home, and multitasking keys appear on the tiny screen when needed.
As far as QWERTY keyboards go, the Terrain's rates below average. It is small, and squashed into a small space, considering how large the device is. The keys are arranged straight across; there is no curve to make typing more comfortable. The buttons are packed tightly, but have decent travel and feedback. Each button has a well defined shape, but because they are so tightly arranged the shape isn't as effective as it should be in helping your thumbs find the right keys. The keys are way too small to use with gloves (as are most of the Terrain's controls).
Speaking of controls, there are buttons and hatches all over the place. There are three buttons on the left edge: volume toggle, PTT key, and speakerphone button. The volume toggle is small. Its profile is just enough that you can find it without looking. Travel and feedback is pretty good. The same goes for the PTT button. It’s hard to find, but has good travel and feedback. The speakerphone button is harder to find. It is small, and recessed too deeply. You have to push it pretty far to get the speakerphone to go on. It is really hard to use these buttons when wearing gloves.
The stereo headphone jack is protected by a hatch on the top of the Terrain. The microUSB port is protected by a hatch on the right side. Both hatches have gaskets that protect the Terrain from water. The screen lock button is on the right, and behaves similar to the speakerphone button. It is a bit small and a bit hard to find. Travel and feedback is mediocre at best. This button should be much better.
The battery cover is one of those lock jobs. There's a little switch on the back that needs to be toggled to the side in order to remove the battery cover. The battery cover has a deep gasket to prevent water from getting in, so it takes some work to remove it. The battery has to be pulled to access both the SIM and rmemory card slots.
As far as ruggedization is concerned, the Terrain is rather tough. I let it sit at the bottom of my pool, and sure enough, it is water resistant just as NEC claims. I also used it to play catch with my kids. They had a blast tossing it around the backyard, and the Terrain was no worse for the wear when we were done throwing it around. I also dropped it onto my driveway from waist level a handful of times for good measure. None of these tribulations caused any damage to the Terrain.
Would be an ideal device IF..