Review: Pantech Laser
At first glance, you might not think the Laser is a slider. It comes off as a slab-style phone, with the top and bottom halves of the phone meeting in a hidden seam that is barely noticeable. Besides, a slider can't possibly be as thin as the Laser's scant 9.9mm, can it? Pantech proves that indeed it can.
The Laser is thin, light weight, and feels comfortable in the hand with respect to the overall size of the phone. Pantech makes use of plastic materials in its design, however, which lends a slightly cheap feeling to the Laser. The back and side surfaces have an odd pattern on them that gives it a slightly rough feel. It's not abusively rough, but your skin notices the texture. Even though there's texture, it is still slightly slippery. This is one of the more pocket-friendly devices out there. The combination of the size, shape and weight make it easy to carry anywhere.
There are three physical keys placed at the bottom of the Laser's face. They are Send, Back and Call/Power. The Back key is the one you'll use most, and it is raised nicely from the surface of the Laser. All three buttons have excellent travel and feedback. A dedicated lock/unlock button is situated on the left side of the Laser, close to the top. It is diminutive, and has a mushy feel to it that I didn't care for. The volume toggle is placed on the right edge of the Laser. It, too, is small, but travel and feedback are better than the lock button. The microUSB port is on the top of the Laser and is protected by a hatch that peels off easily with the help of a fingernail. Looking for a 3.5mm headset jack? There isn't one. You'll be stuck using an adapter or stereo Bluetooth for music playback.
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The slider mechanism has a little bit of spring assistance to it. It's not the best slider mechanism I've encountered, nor is it the worst. This is one area where the Laser's thin profile hurts it. There's little area to push against to get the halves apart. Also, the semi-slippery feel of the back surface reduces the friction needed to help pop it open.
As you might expect, a device as thin as the Laser has to make a trade-off somewhere and unfortunately it comes at the expense of the keyboard. The keys are well spaced, but have minimal shape. Travel and feedback are also minimal. I didn't find typing on the Laser to be very satisfactory, but it does work. The keyboard has four rows. I was expecting to see some messaging-friendly keys, but the only one of note is a ".com" key. No "www", but thankfully the period, question mark, and comma each have their own key and don't require users to hit the function button to reach them.
In order to swap out the microSD card, you have to remove both the battery cover and the battery. I hate that.
CTIA Fall 2010
Phone Scoop is on site in San Francisco to take in all the breaking news and hands-on experiences of the fall CTIA trade show. Be sure to check for full coverage and handset first impressions here.
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