Motorola V330 Review| By Allen Tsai
Being the first phone on T-Mobile's network to support EDGE, the Motorola V330 offers high-speed data transfer speeds of up to 384 kbps, outperforming existing GPRS and cdma2000 1xRTT technologies; allowing users access to news and sports scores, movie listings, and email at broadband-like speeds.
Featuring quad-band frequency access, the V330 delivers all the functionality necessary for a global lifestyle. Through AOL Instant Messenger, busy travelers can stay in touch with friends and family by using the V330 as their portal to the world.
Merging cutting edge technology with distinctive fashion, the Motorola V330 is strikingly familiar to its predecessor, the V300. Featuring a rubberized blue shell, the V330's clamshell design measures a comfortable 89 x 49 x 25 mm and weighing 114 g.
Closed, a 96 x 32 px monochrome screen displays two lines including time, signal and battery strength, phone status information, and even messages to notify users of incoming calls. Above the LCD, a lens to the 0.3-megapixel VGA camera is situated, able to capture images at up to 640 x 480 px in resolution.
Along the left side, volume keys adjust earpiece and ringer volumes during calls and standby. Underneath, a Smart Key allows users to perform frequent basic functions by anticipating likely subsequent actions such as selecting a menu item after it has been highlighted. A Voice Key is located along the right side, used to create recordings or issue voice commands.
A USB-capable data port is housed on the V330's top edge, along side a standard 2.5 mm jack allowing handsfree access through wired headsets. Optional accessories can be attached through the Connector Port located on the bottom, or just a charger.
Flipped open, a 176 x 220 px screen is capable of displaying 65K colors. Positioned below, a 5-way navigation keypad is flanked by Send, Power / End, Browser, Camera, Menu, and Left and Right soft keys. Fairly standard, a numeric keypad allows iTAP predictive text messaging with a few simple key presses.
Out of the box, the Motorola V330 comes with a standard 780 mAh Li-Ion battery, travel charger, hands-free headset, SIM card, and user manual.
Containing the same 0.3-megapixel VGA camera found on previous Motorola models, the V330 is able to capture photos at sizes up to 640 x 480 px. While superb a year ago, rapid advancements in imaging technology have pushed devices featuring 2-megapixels nowadays.
More of a novelty than a replacement for an actual camera, users should not expect to be able to print photos clearly. Other resolution sizes available include Small - QQVGA (160 x 120 px) and Medium - QVGA (320 x 240 px) providing 24-bit color depth at 16 million colors.
Pressing the Camera button on the side converts the internal screen into a camera viewfinder, with the lower portion of the display showing useful information such as available memory. Up and down key presses from the navigational pad controls the 4X digital zoom, while left and right adjusts brightness levels.
While not providing "true" zoom, as optical would, the V330 uses digital zoom which essentially crops the image rather than moving closer. So images will not gain in resolution. Due to the need to keep phones compact, moving parts required for optical zoom are not yet available.
Approximate image file sizes are 50 KB for VGA, 16K for QVGA, and 3 KB for QQVGA. With 5.0 MB of storage space, more than enough memory is provided.
But for times when photos won't cut it, the V330 can record up to 10 seconds of video. Supporting MPEG-4, H.263, and AMR Audio formats, video recording and playback sizes are at Sub-QCIF 1 (88 x 72 px), Sub-QCIF 2 (128 x 96 px), or Full QCIF (176 x 144 px) resolutions.
The user interface is based on Motorola's V500-series phones, so previous users will see many similarities with slight improvements here and there.
Released exclusively on T-Mobile USA, the Motorola V330 is a quad-band phone (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 GSM), making it truly a world phone, compatible with GSM networks worldwide. Motorola rated the V330's 780 mAh Li-Ion battery at 235 hours of standby and 7.08 hours of talk time.
However, those are under optimal conditions. When handset manufacturers and mobile phone carriers list talk-time and standby-time ratings, they usually include disclaimers about variable performance and often refer to the times they publish as maximum times. Actual talk and standby times are lower.
With most phones pushing 65K and up to 262K color external displays, the V330's 96 x 32 px monochrome screen is disappointing. But there is one advantage.
Grayscale LCDs consume much less power than bright and vivid screens. And with most users quickly glancing at an outer display to view information such as time, caller ID, or network status, a simple two-toned screen may be preferred to a power-hungry colorful screen that rarely gets used.
Opened, an internal TFT (Thin Film Transistor) screen is revealed, capable of displaying 65K colors at 176 x 220 px in resolution. Being TFT, it has advantages over STN matrices (such as the external LCD) by allowing quick response and refresh rates.
TFT active display matrices can achieve more vibrant colors and faster refresh rates due to circuit transistors being placed directly on the glass at the pixel location. STN on the other hand, does not, and requires the scanning of pixel locations. This results in noticeably quicker response times; refresh rates needed for using the V330's screen as a viewfinder during camera mode.
Using the Motorola V330's 22 KHz speaker, polyphonic ringtones can be reproduced with up to 24 simultaneous chords. Much like instruments in an orchestra, polyphonic ringtones overlay chords to produce music; the more chords that are able to be combined, the more harmonious the music.
For users who want to create their own music, the V330 comes with MotoMixer. By starting with a base track, composers can mix and overlay tracks to create a unique ringtone; simply add extra bass or ease up on the drums.
Although its polyphonic capabilities are hardly state-of-the-art, users will probably opt for MP3 ringtones. Unlike conventional ringtones which recreate sound by playing "musical notes" like sheet music, MP3s are straight recordings from an audio source. So music with lyrics, sounds, or voice can now be turned into a ringtone for the V330.
Other audio capabilities include speakerphone handsfree access, voice recording, and voice dialing.
Departing from the V300's awkward staggered key layout, Motorola decided to borrow a more linear format found on the V551. Making for quicker and more convenient typing, the V330 features all the standard text messaging formats including SMS (Short Messaging Service), EMS (Enhanced Messaging Service), and MMS (Multimedia Message Service).
Aside from sending plaintext, EMS allows consumers to include text formatting such as style, size, alignment, and paragraphs. But for true multimedia messaging, through photos, sounds, and time-based sequencing, MMS adds true communicative versatility letting users say it in words, photos, animations, or sounds.
Combined with the built-in camera and voice recorder, creative users can design an animated birthday message, digital vacation postcard, or any other arrangement of voice, photo, and text. Limitless arrangements of photography and personalized messaging are possible.
Due to the restrictions of typing on a numeric keypad, multiple key presses are needed to input a letter. But through predictive text, messages can be typed significantly faster. By entering a few letters, the V330 chooses from a dictionary of words and phrases to anticipate what is being written. However, instead of the more widely used T9 standard, the V330 features the Lexicus Software iTAP method. Essentially similar to one another, T9 loyalists may be turned away by the though of having to break old habits.
Additionally, users can log onto AOL Instant Messenger to connect with friends and family. Allowing users to quickly send instant messages, the V330 features the AIM messaging client to keeps users in touch with people no matter where they are in the world.
Capable of storing up to 1000 contacts in the Phonebook, the V330 integrates common PIM (Personal Information Management) applications such as Alarm Clock, Calculator, Datebook, Currency Converter, and Voice Recorder. Additionally supporting POP3, IMAP4, and SMTP accounts, users are also able to check third-party servers such as Hotmail from the convenience of their phone.
But users aren't restricted to preinstalled software. Through J2ME (Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition) modular games and applications can be downloaded and installed. Being the most popular Java platform for mobile devices, an abundant library of software applications has been created by developers; some for free, some for a fee. By browsing for files online, users can transfer programs through the web or from a PC. And the convenient option of purchasing them on the V330 directly through T-Mobile exists as well.
Three J2ME games come with the V330: a full version of Pinball, and trial versions of Bejeweled and NFL Football 2005.
Integrating a web browser, the Motorola V330 renders pages built upon WAP 2.0 markup languages. Frequently maintaining pages dedicated to real-time data, carriers often provide weather reports, sports scores, stocks quotes, and travel information. And through GPRS Class 10, surfers will be able to browse the web and download multimedia at speeds of up to 48 kbps.
But users probably won't use it much. The Motorola V330 is also the first phone on T-Mobile's network to support high-speed transfer through EDGE (Enhanced Data rate for GSM Evolution).
Building on existing technology, EDGE allows for more than double existing GPRS rates. While theoretically able to transfer at speeds of up to 384 kbps, actual rates will be less.
The Motorola V330 is rather generous with 5.0 MB of internal memory. Plenty of space for photos, ringtones, and applications, free space is dynamically shared among all content stored. However the lack of an expansion card slot means users who run out of memory will need to clean out files.
Featuring Bluetooth Class 2, the V330 can pair and synchronize with other Bluetooth devices within a 10 meter radius. Although somewhat restrictive, it is limited to reduce the chances of interference between its peripheral devices and those belonging to other people nearby.
Combined with a T-Mobile data plan and Bluetooth or USB connectivity, the V330 can be used as a wireless modem for laptops and PDAs.
The phone also supports all the latest PAN (Personal Area Network) and OTA (Over-The-Air) technologies for synchronization. For synchronizing between the V330 and a PC, the phone is also SyncML compatible.
SyncML is the common language for synchronizing all devices and applications over any network. With SyncML any personal information, such as email, calendars, to-do lists, contact information and other relevant data, will be consistent, accessible and up to date, no matter where the information is stored.
A hybrid between its predecessor, the V300, and the Cingular-branded V551, the Motorola V330 finally brings high-speed EDGE connectivity to the T-Mobile masses. Rolled out later than competing GSM carriers, T-Mobile's EDGE network is a welcomed sight for those who require fast transfer rates.
Appearing virtually identical to the V300, the lack of aesthetic improvements makes the V330 feel rather dull. But its rubberized casing takes a beating; resisting minor dents, scratches, and smudges.
Quad-band GSM frequency ranges will appeal to business consumers traveling worldwide, while Bluetooth connectivity allows headsets to be paired for handsfree access. With familiar features such as the 0.3-megapixel camera, MP3 ringtones, and J2ME downloadable games, young consumers will be drawn by the fun features.
For the specialized user, the V330 is not ideal. Its business tools, camera, and screen may not be cutting-edge enough for the business road warrior, fashion fanatic, or avid gamer. But for the average consumer, the V330 is a well-rounded phone. With strengths in multimedia, connectivity, and entertainment, the Motorola V330 offers a robust package at a very affordable price. ♦
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