Review of DECT-handset Oregon CU328
- Cubic handset
- AC adapter
- Telephone cable
- CD with a driver for Windows 98
- Wired headset
- USB data cable
- User Guide
The history of Oregon started back in 1989 – over this more than lengthy period has company has tried his luck in a handful of areas, specifically in innovations, where the company developed the world’s first digital home thermometer, and then the weather station for home usage and even pioneered the market of alarm clocks with LCD-display. Also Oregon was the first company to start producing wafer-thin cameras and ultra-portable Flash-players. These days the maker occupies its market share as a manufacturer of innovation solutions, striving to combine affordable price, great feature pack and out of the ordinary design.
The field of DECT-telephony is not the top priority for Oregon – on the contrary, it is more of another field for experimenting, making convergent devices and giving a fresh looks to seemingly usual home appliances. As of today, Oregon’s DECT portfolio features five ones, but none of them is just another wireless phone – each has own flavor to it.
In this review we are focusing on the CU328 – a “cube handset”, showing off an outstanding feature set and more than extravagant design.
At a glimpse Oregon CU328 is everything but a DECT-device – frankly, this device is quite hard to classify. Physically it a futuristic-looking cube mounted on a square base. The face of the device, or, better to say, of the cube, is reminiscent to a porthole, which is in fact a display, materialized in an extremely queer way: it is a perfectly shaped circle edged by a silver ring that houses both navigation controls and functional keys. Two grill-covered speakers, making a single whole with the fascia in terms of design, sit sideways. They are finished in light grey, matching the front inset on the cradle and the navigation circle of the handset.
The cube’s top face plays host to the number pad. All keys here are made of soft rubber and round in shape, saving for the Send button, thus blending with the device’s design concept. It’s remarkable that the captions on the keypad aren’t different from the casing in the sense of color, and therefore look like scribbled on the all-white surface. Thanks to the plenty of available space, the keys don’t feel crammed, which makes for comfortable dialing. There is also no spongy feel or short travel. The bottom right corner holds a tiny hole of the microphone.
On the opposite side is a battery of sockets, specifically the audio jack, memory expansion slot, miniUSB slot and extendable antenna. The device’s bottom plate features charging port and detachable battery cover.
The casing and the cradle are made of white plastic, which is fingerprints-resistant, despite being glossy. Unsophisticated shapes and trim make for austere feel of the cubic handset, even though it is very unusually designed device. At that only a couple of details don’t match the rest of the casing color-wise, namely the front panel of the cradle, navigation ring and speakers, which due to the applied grills look a bit on the grey side.
Make no mistake about that – Oregon CU328 makes a statement with its cool looks. Its classy and catchy design is a true eye-grabber and ergonomically friendly, even if it looks very simple. The fears we had about hardships we could encounter with handling such an offbeat gadget haven’t come true – everything is quite intuitive and easy. All in all it instantly gets you to realize that it is not just a phone for making calls, but rather a constituent of a unique futuristic decor or an expensive and original present for fans of queer gadgets.
The controls of the CU328 are mounted partly on the fascia and party on the top plate. The cube’s front panel allows you to navigate through the menus via the revolving four-way navigation circle made of grey plastic, while looking at the top of the cube reveals a number pad.
While in standby mode, pressing the circle rightwards calls up the phonebook, leftwards – enables line for an internal call “int”. Further more, with the FM-radio or MP3-player running, or when managing the settings, each of the directions stands for various modes/settings. Browsing through items in all menus is done by turning the circle, which turns out quite fiddly. In fact missing the item you need is not a hard task, the navigation circle may just fail you. Also, using the circle you can adjust speakers’ volume during a call and sound volume while listening to the radio or the MP3-player.
The keys placed on the top plate of the cube are the numeric buttons, shortcut to recently dialed numbers, pick/hang up key and a functional key, which serves for bringing up the list of operation modes (farther navigation can be done with the help of the aforementioned navi-circle).
Similarly to the display, the keypad sports bright orange backlighting, making for legibility of all captions in any light conditions.
Display and menu
Looking at the round-shaped display, it’s pretty difficult to tell its real size, yet after lightening it up you find out that it is a four-line monochrome screen. Generally, for setting up Oregon CU328 it proves to be just enough, especially in the light of orange backlighting. While at standby screen the display features, handset’s number, current time, battery status and signal strength, whereas when calling it is filled up with call duration figure.
Pressing “R” key you can enter the menu, which the enables you to go in to MP3-player mode, FM-radio, call up the phonebook, setup the display settings and ring tones, adjust current time, set an alarm clock some other specific settings of the phone, such as registration of additional handsets, number dialing and language in «Phone setup» menu. Going one level back in the menu tree is done by a flick of “#” button.
By default the interface of the phone comes in English, but can be changed to French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch and Swedish.
The menu layout is not something we can complain about – all sub-menus are where you expect them to be, everything here is very intuitive, so that you can master it without peeking into the user guide.
MP3-player and FM-radio
The thing I would like to put into the limelight outright – the sound quality. The handset outputs deep and penetrating sound over a wide and smoothened frequency range. The basses are powerful enough, but even given that the speakers don’t creak at full blast.
The handset plays back MP3- and WMA-files from an SD memory card which is plugged in the socket on the back panel, at that you are limited to 1 Gb in terms of the card’s size (though, it shouldn’t be smaller than 32 Mb), as otherwise the device will simply not identify the card. On successful connection to PC Oregon CU328 is recognized as a removable storage, and what pleases us even more, is the fact that it makes use of a standard socket – miniUSB – for communication purposes. The only niggle here is that once you have inserted a memory card, it gets the write lock activated, meaning that you are enabled to view the card’s contents, but that’s pretty much about it. We tested it out with miniSD and microSD cards installed via adaptor – in both cases the state of things didn’t change for the better. Another quirk is the fact that the CU328 plays back only files placed in the memory card’s root directory.
The handset sports equalizer and support for ID3-Tag in English. The user is also allowed to pick random or sequential playback mode.
Oregon CU328 allows for listening to FM-radio broadcasts on the frequencies from 87,5 to 198 MHz. The phone’s memory can keep up to 10 stations at a time. Another thing of note is the antenna’s design – flipping over to the phone’s back plate, a tiny rubber detail, resembling of a button can be found. Pulling it out, you see that it is by no means a button. Once you have taken the antenna cord out, the handset prevents it from going back inside by locking it. To put it back in closed state, just slightly pull the cord one more time. The antenna is about 50-60 cm long.
Phonebook, ring tones, GAP, caller ID
The phonebook found in the CU328 can store up to 50 numbers. By default all information here is given in English. Maximum number of symbols for a name makes up 15, while a phone number can be 24 digits long. The good thing about the phonebook is that you can set an MP3 track as a ring tone, otherwise there are 10 polyphonic and 4 monophonic tunes packed into the handset.
One of the highlights of the handset, brought about by its unique form-factor, is that you can make calls with it only using the headset, which comes boxed with the CU328, or in handsfree mode. Apparently, this is not always handy, that is why you can link up extra handsets with the base. Support for GAP protocol is on the CU328’s spec sheet, as well as up to 4 handsets connected to one cradle. In its turn the handset found in the package can work with up to 4 bases at a time.
Oregon CU328 houses European caller ID system. The handset’s memory can keep up to 40 incoming calls with assigned time and date.
The handset is powered by a non-standard 1200 mAh Ni-MH battery. As the manufacturer claims it can keep the phone up and running for about 7 hours in talk mode. As always, the cradle is used for recharging purposes.
The «cubic DECT» Oregon CU328 leaves a solid and positive impression – brilliant unique style has turned a household appliance into a flashy piece of decor. And more importantly, the handset’s ergonomics is not the thing that was sacrificed for that “wow” looks; on the contrary, they have coped with arming a DECT-device with such unusual features as MP3-player and FM-radio. So if you are looking for a pricey present for a queer gadgets aficionado, look no further, Oregon CU328 will be one of the best buys.
- Type: DECT GAP
- Dimensions of the handset: 80x80x80 mm
- Weight of the handset: 335 g
- Dimensions of the cradle: 92x98x37.8 mm
- Weight of the cradle: 120 g