Motorola V276 Review| By Allen Tsai
Surviving well past a year, when most phones are retired in a matter of months, the Motorola V265 was a staple to the Verizon Wireless line-up, providing uncompromising business phone looks and essential functionality.
Twelve months since the launch of the V265, Motorola has released an upgrade, the V276. Featuring a different external look and improved Verizon Wireless software, the V276 is essentially identical to the V265. Similarly bundled with an integrated speakerphone, advanced voice recognition, and location based service capabilities, the V276 has essential tools necessary in any business device.
But the V276 isn't all work and no play. Including a built-in VGA camera, BREW technology for downloadable games and applications, and multimedia messaging and chat capabilities, the V276 a device for both professional and personal needs.
Diverging from the sleek black exterior of the V265, the redesigned V276 is encased in a metallic shell. Offering similar conservative designs, the brushed metal front plate gives the V276 an edgier feel. Measuring 91 x 46 x 23 mm, and weighing 107 g, the V276 is the same size and weight as the V265 and average among clamshells.
Closed, the front plate houses an external grayscale LCD, displaying basic information such as time, network status, and battery strength. Situated above, a VGA camera lens is able to take photos up to 640 x 480 px in resolution.
Offering quick access to shortcuts, the Voice Key on the right side allows users to record memos and issue voice commands, while the left side contains Volume Keys and the Speakerphone Key, doubling as a Smart Key to provide access to frequent functions by anticipating likely subsequent actions are to follow.
Outlets for the Headset Jack and Charger / Accessory Port are located on the top and bottom respectively.
Open, the V276 reveals an internal 65K-color 128 x 128 px screen. Positioned below, Menu and Left and Right Keys offer convenient navigation through the menu structure, while a 5-way navigation keypad is flanked by Send, Camera, Clear, and Power / End Keys. Fairly standard, a numeric keypad allows iTAP predictive text messaging with a few simple key presses.
Out of the box, the Motorola V276 comes with a standard 820 mAh Li-Ion Battery, Travel Charger, Quick Reference Guide, and User Manual.
Activating the built-in 0.3-megapixel camera from the Camera Key next to the 5-Way keypad, the Motorola V276 can take pictures at 24-bit color depth and 16 million colors.
Capable of snapping photos at up to 640 x 480 px in resolution, other resolutions include Medium - QVGA (320 x 240 px) and Pix - QQVGA (160 x 120 px). Approximate image file sizes are 50 KB for VGA, 16K for QVGA, and 3 KB for QQVGA. With 3.8 MB of internal memory provided, consumers will be able to snap away with plenty of space to spare.
In Camera Mode, the internal LCD becomes the viewfinder, displaying basic information such as available memory. Meanwhile the directional keypad becomes the controller for the 4X Zoom (Up / Down) and Brightness Levels (Left / Right).
For self-portraits, consumers can activate the Self-Timer (5 or 10 sec), or use the Mirror located next to the lens. Other functions include Auto Repeat, Shuffle, Lighting Conditions (Automatic, Sunny, Cloudy, Indoor (Home), Indoor (Office), and Night), Image Styles (Color, Black and White, Antique, and Negative), Brightness Levels (-3 to +3), and Shutter Tones.
The inability to record videos is a drawback. However, recording video has never been a strong point with camera phones to begin with, most providing grainy resolutions of 176 x 144 px.
Regardless, the V276's camera is the same one in the V265 released last year. However, with its lower price point and business user demographic who don't particularly depend on imaging capabilities, it's expected. Overall, the V276's camera quality is below average from most camera phones advancing up to 2.0-megapixels, but its cost reflects it as well.
Released as a Verizon Wireless' exclusive, the V276 is built on AMPS 800 / CDMA 800 / 1900 technology, making it capable of using analog networks when digital is lacking.
With the standard 9-icon display that most Motorola devices share, the V276's menu is easily navigated through with the use of the Menu and Left and Right Keys above the keypad. Consumers are able to additionally bind personal shortcuts to allow more convenient usage.
Motorola rated the V276's 820 mAh Li-Ion battery at 3.5 and 300 hours (12.5 days) of talk and standby times respectively. However, those are under optimal conditions. Handset manufacturers and carriers often list talk-time and standby-time ratings with disclaimers about variable performance and often refer to the times they publish as maximum times.
Featuring a grayscale 96 x 32 px external screen, the Motorola V276 is able to display common information such as battery levels, network status, and date and time.
While most devices are progressing up to 262K-colors, the grayscale LCD does have advantages. For one, STN (Super Twisted Nematic) technology is not as energy-intensive. Since external displays are typically used for quick glances, prolonged battery life is sometimes preferred over high-resolution displays.
When opened, the 65K-color 128 x 128 px main LCD is revealed. Contrary to the outer screen, the internal LCD is built from TFT (Thin Film Transistor) technology, allowing for vibrant and colorful images.
TFT has advantages over STN matrices by having the circuit transistors placed directly on the glass. Not requiring each pixel location to be scanned as STN would, TFT allows faster response and refresh rates; especially useful when the Camera Mode is activated and the screen is used as a viewfinder.
Able to overlay up to 64 chords simultaneously, the V276 can play polyphonic ringtones. With more chords, more realistic sounds are capable by overlaying several instruments, much like in an orchestra. And the V276's 64 chords are state-of-the-art.
But MP3s ringtones are becoming the norm in ringtone technology. Contrary to polyphonic tones, which recreate sounds by playing "sheet music" through a local synthesizer, MP3s are straight recordings from the audio source. The result is, MP3s provide accurate playback of the real audio; CD music with lyrics or recorded voice. Anything that can be recorded can be turned into an MP3 ringtone. It should be pointed out that the V276 has MP3 ringtone capabilities, but lack functionality of a full MP3 player.
Aside from ringtones, the V276 also supports speakerphone and advanced voice recognition functionality. Without having to record a voice dial, the speaker-independent feature can automatically match the name spoken with a name in the PhoneBook; even asking if users want the mobile, home or work number.
Incorporating the commonplace text messaging standards, the V276 has SMS (Short Messaging Service), EMS (Enhanced Messaging Service), and MMS (Multimedia Message Service).
Going beyond standard text messaging through SMS, EMS allows users to add text formatting including style, size, alignment, and paragraphs. Meanwhile, MMS gives users even more creativity by allowing them to attach multimedia captured from the VGA camera or voice recorder. Able to create birthday and holiday greetings with photos and voices, users can send personalized arrangements through MMS.
Through Verizon Wireless' Mobile IM, consumers have access to instant messaging platforms. Preinstalled AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger clients, consumers can communicate in real-time with friends and family. Data charges may apply.
The V276 uses Lexicus Software iTAP predictive text. Similar to the more common T9 method, both are essentially the same, allowing users to text message quicker by having the V276 "predict" what is being typed. Rather than pressing a button several times for a letter, the software chooses from a dictionary of words and phrases to anticipate what is being written. Using the patterns of English language, characters and combinations can often be assumed or eliminated based on the beginning characters typed.
Common applications are found on the V276, including an Alarm Clock, Calculator, DateBook, and Voice Recorder. Through Verizon Wireless' Internet service, consumers can also access Hotmail, AOL and Yahoo! email accounts.
Built on BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) technology, consumers can also download and install Java-based software. Installation files can be transferred to the V276 from a PC or through the web.
However, with the lack of connectivity options on the V276, users may find it more convenient to purchase applications and games through Verizon Wireless' Get It Now service. There are currently a wide range of programs in multiple genres to choose from.
Through the V276's Openwave UP 6.2 web browser, web pages are rendered upon WAP 2.0 markup languages, including WML, xHTML Mobile (Extensible Hypertext Markup Language) and xHTML Basic.
With Verizon Wireless' optional Mobile Web package, consumers can read and send emails, chat on Mobile IM, or view and trade stocks online, access flight information, and get movie listings on the way to the theater.
Capable of transferring at speeds of ISDN-speeds of up to 144 kbps, the V276 uses Verizon Wireless' cdma2000 1xRTT service. Short for single carrier (1x) radio transmission technology, cdma2000 1xRTT is a wireless technology based on the CDMA platform. But unfortunately, the V276 does not feature EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) technology. As Verizon's new 3G broadband network, it's the backbone for VCAST streaming video service.
Containing 3.8 MB of internal memory for photos, ringtones, and applications and games, the V276's free space is dynamically shared among all multimedia and productivity tools. Enough for photos, ringtones, and Calendar and DateBook entries, should users need more space, they'll need to clean out room; unfortunately there isn't an expandable memory card slot.
Verizon Wireless is notorious for crippling connectivity functions on their phones, forcing customers to use its fee-based Get It Now services. The Motorola V276 is no different, lacking Bluetooth and infrared functionality.
For the office professional, Mobile Office Kit is also available for purchase, allowing users to connect a laptop onto Verizon Wireless' NationalAccess network. It includes a Mobile Office Configuration CD, USB Driver CD, USB Connector Cable, and Quick Start Guide.
Users can also connect the V276 to a PC with the purchase of an optional data cable accessory. Consumers who want to find a device with full connectivity on Verizon Wireless' network will be hard pressed to find one.
Don't fix something if it isn't broke. That seems to be the adage Motorola adopted. Virtually identical to the V265, the V276 features a much improved screen and upgraded software.
Sporting a new metallic look, the business-based V276 is aimed at busy professionals who need a phone for talking. Among its strengths, the V276 has a simple and refined design with necessary functionality.
Without many of the frills and complexities many devices have these days, the V276 has a few drawbacks. The lackluster VGA camera without video recording capabilities and grayscale external LCD may turn multimedia enthusiasts away, while professionals who need a more robust device will be looking for a device with an operating system.
Regardless, the V276 is a good business device for the average consumer. While not offering higher-end features, the V276 offers Mobile IM and email functionality through Verizon Wireless' Internet service, and online browsing through the Openwave browser; productive tools to get the job done. Also including robust audio capabilities such as speakerphone functionality and advanced voice recognition technology, users can get things done even in times when their hands are full.
Additionally providing SMS, EMS, and MMS messaging, users are able to communicate effectively on the road. While incorporating BREW downloadable applications allows consumers to pick and choose which software tools to add.
Competitively priced, the V276 is for consumers looking for a well-rounded device without having to pay an arm and a leg. Targeting users who don't need a 2.0-megapixel camera and MP3 player, the V276's slim and understated design and functionality doesn't draw undue attention compared to bulkier devices with more complex features or ultra-slim devices offering too much flash.
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Categories: Fun | Functional
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