Motorola V360 Review| By Allen Tsai
Beginning with the V300 and later with the V330, a balance of functionality with affordability have made the V300-series popular devices on T-Mobile's network. Departing from its predecessors' recognizable rubberized shell, the newly released Motorola V360, features a more traditional silver exterior.
Housed in a sleek and slim clamshell design, the V360 can capture still and moving shots via an integrated VGA.
Promising users will always have music at an arm's reach away, the V360 includes an integrated MP3 player, while an expandable TransFlash memory card ensures ample room to store their favorite multimedia files. And through EDGE broadband access and Bluetooth connectivity, the well-connected V360 makes certain busy travels can stay in touch with family.
Straying from the rounded blue coating of the V300 and V330, the V360 has a more aggressive two-toned conservative look. Prior problems from peeling rubber were eliminated with the introduction of a silver edging on the V360. Measuring 90 x 47 x 24 mm, and weighing 111 g, the V360's body is similar in shape and size to the V300 and V330, and on par with most wireless devices on the market, but replacing the external antenna with an internal one, improves the mobility considerably.
Featuring a 4-color 96 x 80 px LCD, the V360's external screen is enhanced with a larger surface area (the V300 and V330 being 2-color 96 x 32 px LCDs). Above the display, the lens to a 0.3-megapixel VGA camera captures still and moving photos at up to 640 x 480 px in resolution.
A Charger Port (mini-USB Port) and Voice Dial are located on the left side, used for record voice messages or issuing voice commands, while Volume Keys and a dedicated Smart Key is situated on the right, providing access to frequent functions by anticipating likely subsequent actions are to follow; such as the selection a menu item after it has been highlighted. A standard Headphone Jack is nearby provides personal listening with the built-in MP3 player, or convenient handsfree communication with a wired headset.
The top is labeled with a TransFlash memory card sign; however the battery door needs to be removed to access the slot. While the cards are hot swappable, it's baffling why Motorola didn't design the V360 with slot access rather than requiring the door to be removed.
Opened, a large 176 x 220 px screen is capable of displaying brilliant 262K-colors, considerably enhanced from the V330's 65K-color screen. 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 V360 comes with a standard 1010 mAh Li-Ion Battery, Travel Charger, Headphones, Quick Start Guide, and User Manual.
Including a built-in 0.3-megapixel camera, the Motorola V360 can snap photos and videos with the dedicated Camera Key to the right of the 5-Way Keypad.
Activating the lens, the internal screen becomes the viewfinder, displaying useful information such as remaining photos. And the directional keypad is used to adjust the 4X Zoom (Up / Down) and Brightness Level (Left / Right).
Able to take pictures at up to 640 x 480 px in resolution, the V360 also feaures image quality filters, self-timer, and a mirror for self and group portraits. Other resolutions include Small - QQVGA (160 x 120 px) and Medium - QVGA (320 x 240 px) providing 24-bit color depth at 16 million colors. 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.
The V360 can also capture video encoded in 3GP format. Limited in length by the available memory, the V360 records at 7.5 frames per second (15 fps for playback) and resolution sizes of QCIF (176 x 144 px) and Sub-QCIF (128 x 96 px).
Overall, the V360's camera quality is average. Not comparable to the 1.3-megapixel devices and above, it should be noted that the V360 is at a lower price point than other phones. The lack of flash makes the V360 virtually ineffective in low light conditions, however for capturing photos of unexpected circumstances with friends and taking PhoneBook photos of contacts and MMS images, the V360's camera should be more than enough.
Released for T-Mobile, the Motorola V360 has GSM tri-band (850 / 1800 / 1900 MHz) technology for global communication, provided it is unlocked. Using the standard 9-icon display that most Motorola devices share, the V360's menu traditional and easily navigated through with the use help of dual soft keys. Consumers are able to additionally bind personal shortcuts to allow more convenient usage.
Motorola rated the V360's 1010 mAh Li-Ion battery at a long-lasting 7.5 and 240 hours (10 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.
Both internal and external LCDs have been improved since the V330. Able to view more than twice the surface area, the V360's 96 x 80 px screen offers convenient status and access to carrier, GPRS or EDGE availability, time and date, and signal and better levels.
Enhanced to display 4-colors of gray rather than the V330's dual-toned LCD, the high-contrast screen makes information easily viewable even in direct sunlight.
The V360's internal screen displays a brilliant 262K-colors. With external LCDs used an auxiliary display for glancing at basic information, the internal screen is where the main interaction occurs. Having a large 176 x 220 px resolution, the TFT (Thin Film Transistor) technology allows for higher contrast differences and enhanced clarity. Though slightly faded outdoors, the internal LCD is one of the best in the market, encompassing an exceptionally wide range of colors, and pinpoint sharpness.
Through the V360's 22 KHz speaker, polyphonic ringtones can be played with up to 24 simultaneous chords. Much like instruments in an orchestra, the more chords that are able to be overlaid, the more harmonious the music.
For users who want to create their own unique ringtone, the V360 includes MotoMixer. By starting with a base track, consumers can mix and stack tracks to create a polyphonic ringtone; simply add extra bass or ease up on the drums.
Although its polyphonic capabilities are hardly modern, 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 be turned into a ringtone for the V360.
Also featuring a full-fledged MP3 player, consumers can store music on TransFlash memory cards. Limited up to 192 kbps in sound quality, through the headphone jack on the side, users can listen privately without disturbing others.
Motorola has incorporated standard text messaging formats including SMS (Short Messaging Service), EMS (Enhanced Messaging Service), and MMS (Multimedia Message Service). Combined with the built-in VGA camera and voice recorder, users can attach pictures and sounds to compose birthday and holiday greetings through MMS.
Using iTAP predictive text, the V360 matches what is being typed with a dictionary of words and phrases, anticipating the likely outcome and saving unnecessary keystrokes.
The V360 also includes Wireless Village, an Instant Messaging and Presence Services (IMPS) solution. Merging the V360's phonebook with messaging functionalities, consumers can access contacts via SMS, MMS, email, or chat. Going beyond previous mobile chat features, Wireless Village defines connections with existing instant messaging providers, such as AOL, ICQ, Yahoo and MSN.
Wireless Village lets users view other users' presence, send and receive instant messages and join community chats on the V360. So consumers can chat and sharing personal information about Status, (Online, Offline, or Busy), Location (Home or Work), and Moods (Happy or Angry).
Additionally, services can allow consumers to participate in private or public chat rooms with search capabilities. Wireless Village enables consumers to start their own wireless communities, regardless of device or network. Dependant upon carriers, the V360 may be able to access meeting and conferencing type services with shared content.
In addition to common PIM (Personal Information Management) applications such as Alarm Clock, Calculator, Datebook, Currency Converter, and Voice Recorder, the V360 can also access email accounts through POP3, IMAP4, and SMTP protocols.
Including a few preinstalled games, the V360 is also able to supports Java-based software based on the J2ME (Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition) platform. As the most popular platform for mobile devices, J2ME is deployed on millions of devices and backed by leading tool vendors.
There are currently a wide range of applications and games in multiple genres to choose from. Through the Internet or T-Zones, consumers can download programs, most for a small fee.
Equipped with GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) Class 10 technology, consumers can browse the web at speeds of up to 48 kbps through the integrated WAP 2.0 browser or a connected laptop.
But users will probably opt for EDGE (Enhanced Data rate for GSM Evolution) high-speed connectivity. Able to achieve broadband-like speeds of up to 384 kbps, actual rates will be less.
Browsing the web, users can utilize Motorola's Dynamic Idle solution, an innovative technology that gives consumers zero-click access to news, sports, entertainment, and other premium content directly from their mobile device home screen. Convenience with Dynamic Idle allows users to get the information they want with no buttons to push, and no browsers to launch.
Containing 5.0 MB of internal memory for photos, ringtones, and applications and games, the V360's free space is dynamically shared among all multimedia and productivity tools.
Utilizing the built-in MP3 player, a TransFlash expansion slot is located behind the battery door along the top edge. Additional cards can be purchased separately up to 512 MB in size.
Able to synchronize with wireless devices within a 10 meter radius, the Motorola V360 features Bluetooth Class 2 technology. Although somewhat restrictive, the limitation is required to reduce the chance of interference between its peripheral devices and those belonging to others nearby.
The Charger Port along the side is actually a mini-USB port. Combined with a T-Mobile data plan, the use of Bluetooth or USB connectivity converts the V360 into a wireless modem for laptops and PDAs.
Also supporting all the latest PAN (Personal Area Network) and OTA (Over-The-Air) technologies for synchronization, the V360 is SyncML compatible.
As the common language for synchronizing all devices and applications over any network, SyncML will keep consistent, accessible, and up-to-date email, calendars, to-do lists, contact information and other relevant data, no matter where the information is stored.
Straying from the rounded design of the V300 and V330, the Motorola V360 exhibits a more refined professional appearance and extra long battery life. As one of the growing list of phones able to access T-Mobile's new EDGE broadband network, the V360 allows consumers to surf the web at high data rates.
Featuring standard utilities such as speakerphone and voice functionality, as well as Bluetooth connectivity, the V360 would make an excellent business device. But it also has a built-in MP3 player, VGA camera, and J2ME downloadable games to add a bit of fun.
One small gripe is the location of the TransFlash memory card slot. Hidden beneath the battery cover, the enclosure defeats the purpose of making the V360 hot swappable.
And another drawback is the 0.3-megapixel camera. Only able to take pictures at 640 x 480 px, consumers shouldn't expect to be able to make prints. As more of a novelty feature, the VGA camera is convenient for unexpected moments.
Based solely on entertainment, the V360 can be beat with other more feature-packed devices. However, as a phone with a mid-level price point, the Motorola V360 is a well-rounded phone for the general public. ♦
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