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|04-25-2003, 04:43 PM||#1|
- Contributor -
8100 Review & Comparison
I purchased the Sanyo 8100 yesterday at Radio Shack. I will attempt to provide a useful review even though I've had the phone less than 24 hours.
First a little background on my phone history: I wonít go all the way back to my first phone, but in the last 9 months Iíve owned a Samsung A500 and Sanyo 4900. I also purchased, but never activated the Sanyo 5300. I chose to return the 5300 because I was unimpressed with the phone feature/cost ratio.
Anyway, when I lived in San Francisco the A500 suited my situation well since I both lived and worked in areas where Sprint PCS reception was strong. When I moved to Seattle I found myself in an office building and a home where signal strength became an issue. I was constantly dropping calls or the phone was searching for service. I begrudgingly gave up and went with the candy bar shaped 4900. Compared to the A500, the 4900 seemed like a huge step in the wrong direction in the area of aesthetics, but it did indeed provide much better signal strength. The 4900 worked in the trouble areas I stated above.
The reason I decided to check out the 8100 was primarily based on it being a Sanyo first (signal strength), and secondly I missed having a flip phone. The camera wasnít a factor in my interest.
So on with the actual review of the 8100. Below I list several categories and a rating (from 1-10) on how well it measured up.
Size (8): The A500 really had the perfect size and form for a flip phone. However, the 8100 is quite acceptable and feels very solid. Itís a great improvement over the non-flip 4900 and itís 5300 predecessor.
GUI (graphical user interface) (10): Top Notch! I think Sanyoís product managers monitor the general forum J The 8100 GUI utilizes a much better font and menu pattern than any other phone Iíve used. The screen is crisper & brighter than even the A500. When compared to the 5300 & 4900 it looks like Iíve stepped up to HDTV! Pictures on CNN (more on Vision below) are so clear you can actually see the detail of the photograph. This is probably the most impressive improvement Iíve seen in Sanyoís user interface. In addition the menuís are intuitive and functions like the phone book and calendar are equally easy to setup (as Sanyoís always have been).
Vision (9): Again, a great improvement from any of the phones Iíve used. Not only is it faster, but I have yet to have any of the ďpage errorsĒ or frustrating SMS failures Iíve experienced on previous phones. Another improvement is when you use the CALL feature from within a short message, or end your Vision session & attempt to immediately place a call. You no longer get the call failed Ė network busy message you would get on the 4900 (not sure about the 5300). This would happen because the 4900 had not completely ended the Vision session, even though you had pressed the ďEndĒ key, causing a conflict between Vision and Voice. With the 8100, the Vision session must still terminate completely, but the phone will display a message to the user asking to ďPlease WaitĒ. When the Vision session has terminated (1-2 seconds) the message will disappear and the 8100 will complete the call. I must reiterate the speed performance is much better. If Sprint continues to provide SMS via Vision, this is crucial. On a separate note, I think Sprint would help speed up SMS if it got rid of all the stupid confirmation messages when deleting and sending mail. Another pleasant surprise was the ability to quickly send an email from an address entry in the phone book. Click on their email address and withing seconds you were typing an email. I would have given this category a 10 if there were some way to control the default text entry method for web forms (i.e., default to T9 or alphabet). It always defaults to alphabet, when T9 is obviously my method of choice. Notice I said ďmy methodĒ, not yours Ė which is why I think you should be able to specify it somewhere within the menu settings.
Signal Strength (7): If you read the first part of this posting you know that Iím often in areas where I donít get the best signal. My office building and home is steel/concrete construction. The 4900 didnít increase the signal tremendously but in the fringe spots it allowed calls to go through and actually did a much better job of hanging on to the signal. I think I know why. If you happen to own a 4900, turn it on and hold it from the bottom half & look at the signal strength. Next put your hand around the antenna base and again check the signal strength. You will notice a huge drop. Not a fault of the phone, but it explains why flip phones are often known for less than perfect signal when compared to the candy bar phones. When talking on a candy bar phone your hand is usually well below the antenna area. When on a flip phone your hand is around the entire phone including the antenna base. I noticed the 8100 would go from no bars/no signal to 3 or 4 bars when I move my hands to where I only held it at the base of the phone (Avoiding the antenna). In summary, itís extra work but I would say the signal on the 8100 is about the same as the 4900 if held properly. Take that for what itís worth. Maybe an RF engineer can shed more light on this.
Camera (NR): I know many of you are interested in the cameraís picture quality. I didnít purchase this phone for itís picture taking capabilities and therefore I donít have much to say. I will say the quality of the pictures match the specís of the camera and therefore I donít see any reason to complain. I did take a few pictures and found it extremely easy to email the picture to my home email address. It took less than 60 seconds overall. In that regard, Iím sure it will be useful for something, but since it only works for close up shots, Iím not sure what.
Voice Quality (9): There are definitely no volume or sweet spot problems on this phone. Iíve never owned a phone where I didnít have the volume on ďHighĒ. On this phone, medium was more than sufficient. Any higher is useful when your on hold and want to set the phone down. You can actually hear when the called party answers and then pick up the phone. I would give this feature a 10, but I noticed a slight echo at times. This could be the voice channel and not the phone. When on the high setting it probably amplified it.
Battery Life (10): Equal to the 4900 despite a display that could light up a dark bedroom like a 60 watt light bulb.
In summary, this phone gets high marks from me and I will definitely keep it. For my situation Iím a little concerned about the signal compared to the 4900, but I think if I hold the phone properly, this will not be an issue. Outside of that, this phone provides everything I wanted from my A500. No software bugs (that I've found), great signal, intuitive GUI, and packed full of extra features to long to list. I even like Mi Amigo! My biggest fear is that at the 99.00 price, it won't be long before my phone is the same as everyone else's