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Hands-On: Saygus V1 VPhone

VPhone VPhone Video Comments  17  

Nov 11, 2009, 9:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Verizon Wireless' first Open Development Initiative handset was previewed by manufacturer Saygus recently. Phone Scoop goes hands-on and delivers an early opinion.

Verizon Wireless has been pitching its Open Development Initiative to hardware makers for a while now. Up to this point, the only types of devices that have been certified on the network are business-focused items that are not cell phones, but other types of hardware with data connections enabled via Verizon. That's all about to change with the arrival of the Saygus VPhone.

The VPhone -- aka V1 -- is being manufactured by Saygus. It runs Android 1.6 and will be updatable to Android 2.0 at some point in the future. Saygus executives said that the device will be available to Verizon Wireless customers, but it won't be supported by Verizon Wireless. That's one of the drawbacks of using an ODI handset. Anyone who eventually purchases this device will have to rely on Saygus for support if things go screwy. Once certified, the VPhone will be able to access Verizon's voice and data network, but won't offer Verizon-branded services.

Instead, Saygus is offering its own, home-cooked applications to make the VPhone stand out. The primary feature of the phone is a video sharing capability that will allow users to stream a live, bi-directional video feed between two phones. Yes, that means video phone calls from a cell phone. (Saygus claims its video compression technology is second to none, and will even work on EDGE networks.)

Unfortunately, Saygus didn't show off this feature. In fact, a lot of the menus were under embargo and couldn't be shown. That didn't stop Phone Scoop from playing with the device for a bit.

First, it's HUGE. It has to be the thickest phone manufactured in the last four or five years. Despite its size, it isn't all that heavy. The plastics and materials feel a little on the cheap side, but the manufacture appears to be fairly tight.

 

Saygus VPhone

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

It has three keys on the front, which are minimalistic and have very little travel and feedback. The device is rimmed by what looks like 1,000 buttons and hatches. They all felt OK. These buttons include volume toggle, application key, dedicated camera key and lock/unlock key. Hatches covering the miniUSB port and microSD port are here, too.

The slider mechanism feels pretty solid, with not too much wiggle room. The keyboard is absolutely gigantic. The keys are well spaced, have a very nice shape to them, and offer excellent travel and feedback. I'd say the keyboard is probably the most impressive aspect of the hardware...

...with the exception of the display. Similar to the recently released Motorola Droid, the VPhone is packing a 480 x 800 pixel display, making it high def. It looks fantastic. Images, icons and text popped off the display.

Aside from the video sharing feature, perhaps the phone's most impressive capability is that it will act as a Wi-Fi router. This means it will connect to Verizon's 3G network, and then allow a laptop to tether to the VPhone via Wi-Fi rather than a cable. In other words, it will act similar to the Novatel MiFi. Saygus wouldn't say how many simultaneous connections the VPhone would support.

The device had Android 1.6 -- aka Donut -- loaded on it. The UI had seven active screens and actually looked a lot like HTC's Sense UI. Saygus assured us that they were simply using alternate icons that are built into the Android platform. As for performance, it was a bit slow. Despite having a 624MHz processor, it was stutter-y and transitions from screen to screen were a little rough. Hopefully this is something that Saygus can work out before the device hits the street.

In all, this is an interesting device. Saygus believes it will be available for sale in late 2009 or early 2010. Given the level of innovation show by Saygus, it offers a teeny bit of hope that other hardware makers will follow suit and offer their own new and innovative products.

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Subject Author Date
Release this phone already, Verizon! Azeron Dec 4, 2009, 1:43 PM
No Audio Jack ? dagger Nov 13, 2009, 7:13 AM
What does this mean? GuyinLACA Nov 11, 2009, 12:30 PM
I want one AndroidRules Nov 11, 2009, 5:05 PM
Definitely don't like... muchdrama Nov 11, 2009, 7:46 PM
What a beast! island-guy Nov 11, 2009, 11:57 AM
 
 
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