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Review: Pantech Laser

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This should be the Laser's bread and butter, right? Well, there are certainly a lot of options. The Laser offers threaded SMS, AT&T Social Net, email, Facebook, Twitter, IM and MySpace.

Starting with SMS, the threaded messaging app works well. Text appears in bubbles and visually helps keep a conversation easy to read. Inserting images, graphics, or templates is a breeze, and the Laser successfully sent/received all the MMS messages it attempted.

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The mobile email is a rip-off. In order to use the crummy email client, users will have to cough up $5 per month. For a messaging device, this is an inexcusable offense. AT&T may as well start charging per text message again. That said, the client has built-in support for AOL Mail, AIM Mail, Windows Live Hotmail, AT&T Mail, Yahoo, and Gmail. It's the same client that AT&T has used for years. It is clunky, and grabs email only intermittently.

If you're seriously in need of an email fix, I'd recommend biting the bullet and using the browser-based version of your favorite web-mail service. It's not perfect, but it's better than paying AT&T $5 per month to access your messages.

IM options include a single software client for AIM, Yahoo and Windows Live chats. It is similar to most other all-encompassing chat programs. It gets the job done, but it isn't visually appealing. Where's support for Google Talk? Nowhere, I am afraid.

On the social networking front, the Laser offers plenty. The AT&T Social Net application is a catch-all for social networking status updates. It's easier to scan friends' posts from Twitter, MySpace and Facebook all at once through Social Net, as well as post to all or some of your own networks. If you want to do more than simply read, it is better to use the full applications. Did I say that the Laser offers Twitter, Facebook and MySpace? Oh, drat. What I meant to say was that the Laser has shortcuts to the mobile versions of Facebook.com, Twitter.com, and MySpace.com. That's very lame. The mobile web versions of Twitter, MySpace and Facebook work fine on smartphones, but not on feature phones. The browser is barely able to manage the torrent of info that passes through users' news feeds, and the experience feels cramped and unrewarding. In other words, don't count on the Laser to be useful for anything more than browsing your friend's status updates and posting your own. Advanced features are not offered.

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