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Review of GSM-handset Motorola W380
Live photos of Motorola W380
Just recently we reviewed the Motorola W220, which is a simplified version of the RAZR. The step the company has taken is absolutely right, having a top solution with successful design in its arsenal, Motorola has created a budget product whose lines and shapes have adopted some traits of its older brother. Now it is the KRZR that has occupied the RAZR place and, of course, the company couldn’t possibly miss the chance to make the best of it and presented not one but four low-end solutions sporting resembling design, these are the W375, W380, W385 and W510. Visually the models only marginally differ from each other; functionality and price are the factors setting them apart. But they have one facet in common – resemblance to the Motorola KRZR K1 which is a top-notch offering.
Such unsophisticated move not only extends the portfolio, but also puts an end to Motorola’s top model wannabes. No, really, there is only a tiny chance that someone will take a risk to make a copy of the K1 when the company has four cheap counterparts on offer. Our Chinese colleagues have nothing left to do but switch over to models by other vendors, Nokia, for instance, and enjoy churning out the 8800’s copies
Our today’s review focuses on the Motorola W380, a cheap handset with external display, FM-radio, VGA-camera and MP3 support.
Like we said, the new W-series models share design cues with the KRZR and the W380 is no exception in this sense. The model comes in clamshell form-factor, the dimensions are close to those of the KRZR K1. The W380 measures up at 99x45x18.2 mm and weights 97 g, whereas the KRZR K1 is 103 mm tall, 42 wide and 16 mm thick at 102 g. The handset is palm-friendly, so interacting with it delivers no inconveniences. Frankly speaking, in photos the model looks better than it is in person – after all it seems somewhat clunky. The W380’s casing is made entirely of plastic, and since the surface is lacquered it picks up finger prints and grease fairly easily. The W320 comes in four colors: Silver Quartz, California Dream Fade, Fire Red and Stone Grey.
The left spine plays host to the volume rocker, which is quite clunky and stands high above the casing, stiff action staves off accidental presses. The button is well-placed, which makes it a breeze to use during calls. The only quibble about it is that the button is somewhat loose and produces a characteristic noise, but probably it was the flaw of our particular unit. Also here, on the left-hand side’s lower part is the standard MiniUSB slot covered with a rubber flap, which is linked up with the casing.
The hinge of the right-hand side houses the eyelet for a carrying strap. At the bottom is the 2.5 mm audio jack, which is also protected by a flap.
On the W380’s front fascia you can find the lens of VGA-camera and a miniscule monochrome display with 32x96-pixel resolution. The display is horizontally oriented, thus number or name of the person calling you, missed call or new message notifications will be displayed in landscape mode, so for comfortable use you’d better turn the device sideways. In the handset’s menu you can select display direction. The only thing that is shown in display in conventional fashion is the clock. The screen is lit in blue; all information on it is quite legible. The external display doesn’t feature battery status, signal strength – all these indications are available only on the internal screen.
Above the display is a tiny service indicator.
The W380 can be easily opened single handedly, small dents found on the sides make it even more straightforward, and on top of that the spring mechanism won’t let down. The angle between two opened halves is sufficient to ensure palatable experience of handling the device.
Flipping the handset open you see a small TFT-display (28x35 mm) with 126x160-pixel resolution and capable of 65 K colors. For a low-end product the display does a good job, even though it gets washed out in the sun, but only to a certain extent that prevents information from fading away completely.
The keypad is utilizes single slab design and is made of plastic, rather than metal, like that found in the senior models. All buttons are spaced out with numerous rubberized insets. The travel distance offered by the number pad is sufficient to provide good tactile feedback. The keys are about average in size and since they are placed next to each other, people with big fingers will stumble upon certain difficulties with managing the keypad. And the rest will have to get used to the flat slab, although if you have had experience of handling similar pads, you will feel right at home.
The keypad is evenly lit in bright blue, all captions are legible.
On the rear’s lower part is the call alert loudspeaker slot.
The rest of back panel’s space is taken up by the battery cover, which is quite reliable and firmly sits in its socket.
The W380 utilizes a 850 mAh Li-Ion cell. As the manufacturer claims, it can keep the handset alive for up to 300 hours in standby mode and provide 500 minutes of talk time. In conditions of Moscow networks the W380 lasted for about 3 days at 15-20 minutes of calls per day and up to 15 minutes of other functions. It takes the battery about 2.5 hours to charge from empty to full.
The handset can charge both via an AC-charger and USB when linked up with PC. It is a good thing that the maker has armed the model with a miniUSB socket, as probably many of you have one at home; besides, there are tons of these data cables in offices.
When connected to a PC the handset is identified as a portable storage device and requires no additional drivers to work properly, 1 Mb of memory is available to user. Such straightforward connection allows the user to stuff the handset’s memory with, for example, MP3 tunes or pictures in an unsophisticated way.
The menu’s lay-out is typical for all Motorola-branded devices; it can be displayed either in 3x3 grid or in a list form. The submenu looks differently in different menu items, thus you can see either vertically arranged lists or thumbnails which are the same to those displayed in main menu yet shown in a window rather than full screen.
For fast access to some functions from the standby screen you bind certain functions to the soft-keys and directions of the navigation key. Icons of the menu items assigned this way can be displayed on the screen or hidden.
Phonebook. Not more than 100 names can be saved in the phone's memory and for each entry you can store First Name and Last Name as well as Nickname, as many phone numbers as you wish (select type from the list - home, work, mobile, fax and so on), e-mail addresses (type can be also chosen – work, personal, etc.), home-page address and IM-client number. You are also free to submit postal address, birthday as well as a small text note. Each contact can be also personalized with a picture or a tune or put into one of the groups.
Search in the phonebook is performed by letters, besides you can quickly skim through contacts within a certain group.
On incoming call, the picture you assigned as Caller ID is displayed not full-screen but in a small window.
Messages. Up to 100 messages can be stored in the W380’s memory. EMS support is available. The handset has a unified editor for SMS and MMS messages, where the type varies depending on message contents. You can easily take advantage of the preinstalled MMS templates, though there are no default SMS templates, so it is up to you to compose some. The device features predictive text input system, iTap for Russian and English languages. Bulk mailing is supported.
Within the Voice message submenu you can record an audio message, whose limit makes 30 seconds, and then send it as an MMS message.
Recent calls. Here you can find lists of received, dialed and missed calls; each of them has maximum capacity of 40 entries. Calls from one number don’t get merged and end up as separate entries For each number you can view detailed information about call date and time as well as duration
Games and applications. The W380 supports Java MIDP 2.0, around 1 Mb of memory is reserved for applications.
Office Tools. Calendar can be viewed in monthly or weekly mode. You can move quickly to desired date and see if there are any entries at all. Everything is pretty spartan, no bells and whistles here.
You can set up to 4 alarm clocks, each of them will trigger only once.
Also, in this item you will find calculator, stopwatch, quick dial and chat option for writing text messages to members of your contact list.
Connectivity. Using this menu item you can setup USB-connection to manage the handset’s memory or use the phone as a modem.
Browser. The W380 comes with WAP-browser 2.0 preinstalled.
Settings. All main phone settings are gathered here: date and time, backlighting time, display contrast, language, etc. All of them are pretty standard, giving a rundown on each of them won’t make much sense .
In “ring tone styles” you can select the style (profile) you need: silent, conference, standard, vibro, vibro and ring tone, vibro followed by ring tone.
Every profile may be customized. Specific tunes can be assigned to call alert, incoming SMS, alarm clock and voice mail messages.
Multimedia. The device handles MP3 and ACC files, track size is limited only by the free memory available, which makes up 1 Mb.
This item also houses themes that allow you personalize the handset to the full. Here you can assign signals to nearly all options as well as customize wallpapers and screensavers.
The sound recorder can make voice notes which run no longer than 1 minute.
Radio. The radio application in the W380 is pretty unsophisticated, yet gratifying to use. Up to 9 radio stations can be stored in the handset’s memory, to save the station you should just tap and hold one of the numeric keys on selected frequency. You are free either to search for the station manually or use auto-tuning. The radio works in background mode, in this case the display shows the frequency you are on instead of operator’s name and in the right-hand corner you will see shortcut menu to the radio.
Camera. The W380 carries the VGA-camera onboard. The following resolutions are supported: High (640x480), Medium (320x240) and MMS (160x120). You can also adjust lighting settings, overlays and choose shutter sound. Apart from that, 4x zoom feature is at your disposal. Well, today VGA cameras are hopelessly outdated and we there is absolutely no point in a breakdown of this particular unit.
The reception quality the W380 can offer is in one league with other modern GSM-handsets. The earpiece volume and microphone sensitivity are sufficient for calls in almost any environments. hanks to the dedicated speaker, ring tone volume is rather high; undoubtedly, the quality of preinstalled tunes is nothing to shout about, but you can always go on and set own MP3 or AAC track as call alert. The silent alert is average in strength.
The device offers moderate functionality found under relatively light price tag. The main trump of the Motorola W380 is the KRZR’s design cues which undoubtedly will get consumers curious. The drawback to the W380 is its miniscule main screen and fiddly outer display, but otherwise it is a quite interesting offering with MP3 and Java support, miniUSB socket and FM-radio module.
The model is expected to become available in third quarter for about 120-130 USD. Today it is as much as the less feature-packed Motorola W375 costs, whose price will drop down when the W380 arrives.
Published 11 July 2007
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