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Fall 2009 Preview

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Nov 20, 2009, 10:45 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Phone Scoop was able to spend a few moments with a bunch of new handsets from Pantech, Casio and Kyocera. Read our first impressions of the Impact, Rock, Incognito and others here.

Pantech 

Pantech was (finally) showing off the Impact, which was announced in October but not actually seen. For some reason Pantech and AT&T didn't want to share images of this device until today. That said, it's a really attractive phone, so we don't know why they were hiding it.

 

Impact

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The Impact is a sideways clamshell that has a capacitive touch keypad on the front of the phone. When the keypad is not illuminated, the surface is mirrored and reflective. It is a sharp looking phone, especially with the chrome rim that rings the outside of the front panel. Dialing on the capacitive touch pad felt OK, and the Impact provides haptic feedback as you dial.

The clamshell opens to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard within, as well as a D-pad and other soft keys/controls.

I thought this keyboard was excellent. The keys are nicely sculpted, have excellent travel and feedback, and the overall spacing of the keyboard was comfortable. The D-pad was just a bit on the small side, but it worked well.

I didn't care for the way the soft keys and send/end keys were placed above the keyboard. They're a little awkward to figure out, and I often found myself hitting the wrong button. They all had good travel and feedback, though.

The Impact is running the same feature phone user interface that is found on most AT&T phones. It was snappy and worked well, offering quick access to applications such as the camera, browser, and so on.

In sum, the Impact is a very well built and solid phone that should be appealing to the messaging crowd.

Casio 

Casio had its latest G'zOne phone on hand, the Rock. I have to say, it is quite a good looking phone. It's the type of device you'd expect Batman to be using, with its angular, gothic lines and design. (Heck, he could probably use it as a weapon if he needed to.)

 

Rock

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

You want tough? This phone is tough. As with many of the G'zOne phones, it meets mil-spec toughness ratings, and can survive a lot of abuse. It is really solid, felt good to hold in the hand with its rubberized surfaces, and exudes strength. Me likee.

Because the Rock supports PTT features, it has a flotilla of buttons and hatches on the side, including a dedicated walkie-talkie key, headset jack hatch, volume toggle, application key, charge port hatch and so on. With the exception of the application key, all the controls felts good and had good travel and feedback.

The Rock has a trick clamshell that springs open at the touch of a button on the right side. It works well for opening the phone in a hurry one handed.

They keypad is generously spaced and the keys had excellent travel and feedback. I really liked the way the keypad worked. The controls were all good, and there were dedicated keys for the camera, media player and light (which doubles as a flash).

If you're the outdoor type who needs a phone that can handle the elements, you can't go wrong with the Rock.

Kyocera 

Kyocera was showing off three new phones at the Pepcom event in New York. They are the Incognito, Torino and Domino.

Incognito

This sideways clamshell is launching with Sprint on November 30. The front is mirrored and has a hidden keypad. Unlocking the phone brings the touch-sensitive keypad to life, which provides haptic feedback when you interact with the phone. The external keypad is a neat touch, but you won't find it very easy to dial when not looking at the screen, as there is no way to tell where your thumb is in relation to the numbers/buttons.

 

Incognito

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The back of the Incognito is covered with a soft-touch paint job, making it easy to hold. The shape of the phone is a bit on the blocky side, but the mirrored finish on the front makes it attractive.

The clamshell opens easily and there's a nice, colorful display inside, which is flanked by stereo speakers. The full QWERTY keyboard is decent, and the travel and feedback of the buttons was good. Each had a nice "click." The D-pad on the right side of the keyboard also worked well, as did all of the navigation and control keys.

The Incognito runs Sprint's OneClick user interface, and I didn't notice and differences or surprises with it. It looked the same as it does on other phones that run OneClick. The display was nice and bright and the UI worked fast with no hiccups or stuttering.

Anyone looking for an inexpensive messaging phone that has a unique look and feel might consider the Incognito.


Torino

The Torino is a chubby little QWERTY phone that has a square-ish shape. It is nice and light weight and feels good in the hand. The front has an OK display, though the low resolution was a little too low for my tastes. It was plenty bright, though, and was running a generic user interface from Kyocera. (No carriers have officially announced this phone yet.)

 

Torino

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

The Torino's full keyboard isn't bad, but it isn't great either. The keys have good shape and definition, but they definitely felt cheap to press and interact with.

I also didn't care for the six control keys that are on either side of the D-pad. They are three slivers that are placed too close together, making them difficult to tell apart when you're in a hurry. The thinness of the keys doesn't help either. Travel and feedback was OK, though.

It has some really basic features, such as a 1.3 megapixel camera and messaging, which all worked well in the quick tests I performed.

This device will surely be available from a smaller carrier in the coming months.


Domino

I'll give you one guess to figure out why Kyocera named this device the Domino...

 

Domino

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

It is an ultra tiny little candybar phone that is clearly an entry-level device. It has few features, but the hardware felt pretty good. Being so small, it is going to travel anywhere and fit well into a pocket.

The display is teensy, but the numeric keypad felt great to use. THe keys have great definition and shape, and are made of a rubbery substance. This meant your thumbs won't slide off the keys as your dial.

THis phone will also be available in the coming months, most likely from a low-cost provider or pre-paid service.

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I like the decepticon look to it island-guy Nov 20, 2009, 1:02 PM
 
 
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