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Review of GSM handset Pantech PG6200
Pantech PG6200 or as it is also called “Pet black panther” is Pantech’s flagship for 2006. This handset is sort of evolution of GI100 model from the very same manufacturer (Check out the review here). Handset is made in clamshell form-factor, and it has two color displays. It also has T-Flash memory card support, 2mpx camera and built-in Bluetooth module v1.2 with support of A2DP (possibility of connecting Bluetooth stereo headset). And of course, its main feature which has evolved from the predecessor GI100 – fingertip scanner.
A lot of users will be asking why company decided to call this model “Black Panther”. It’s all about phone’s construction when handset is open two sides will connect, and you will get the feeling of one solid part if you look from behind. But in case you look on the phone from its back or side you will see a case lean that was compared to a jumping panther. “Black Panther” is due to case color, it will be the only color solution. Thanks to such built PG6200 will draw additional attention when it is opened, as a matter of opening the phone will also generate a loud click. And this “click” is no accident, it was made to give you additional “look at me” points.
This handset does not look so attractive when it is closed, a sort of rectangle with slightly rounded edges. Even the fact that case color is completely black and even the fact that there are some “metal” styled plates does not save the situation. Phone loses its unique style and does not draw attention, unless you open it. Oh, and speaking of opening again, some will have to use both hands in order to perform this operation. Picking up upper side is quite hard unless you have large nails. For some mysterious reason upper part is narrower than the lower one, and deepening on sides is too small, additionally mechanism is quite tight. So in order to open handset by using only one hand – you will have to spend some time practicing.
This model is not so big (87x43.6x20.9 mm, weight – 92 grams), it will easily fit pockets of your trousers, although it won’t fit shirt’s pocket due to thickness. Case is made of qualitative plastic, there are no concerns about way this handset is assembled. Surface is smooth by touch, but by no means it’s easily soiled, except for mirror frame around external display, which will be dirty most of the time.
Joined volume control button is located on left side, and T-Flash memory card slot is slightly lower, it is covered with plastic cork which is fixed to the case. Mp3 player activation button and camera activation buttons are located on right side. 2.5mm jack for headset is located slightly lower. Interface connector is traditionally placed in the bottom it is covered with plastic cork, nearby microphone’s hole.
There is no hole for strap, it seems that manufacturer believes that wearing this handset on strap is a crime against fashion.
An external TFT display is located on front panel almost in the center, its resolution is 96x128 pixels, it is able to display up to 65 000 colors. Display’s quality is good, information remains readable when you are outdoors. Only thing that spoils the overall impression is mirror frame around it. As it was mentioned above, it will be soiled most of the time, and other problem is that it mirrors sunlight, which sometimes can prevent you from reading information on display.
External display can be used as viewfinder, you will also see player’s information on it, and by pressing down volume control button an access to menu can be granted. This menu consist of two items: mp3 player and Camera. We didn’t quite catch the reason for this menu, since there are special buttons used for accessing those functions. You can also see missed calls list, received messages and recorded phone calls lists.
Pantech sign is placed above the display, which is also used as LED. You can select one of 7 backlight types for that, and I have to admit that it looks pretty decent in darkness.
2mpx camera lens is also located on front panel. It is placed slightly higher than overall surface, and is protected by metallic ring. Flash which in reality is a LED is located above the lens, it can be used as flashlight – just press up and hold the volume control button. Flash’s power is strong enough, sometimes it may help you when you’re about to take a shot in bad lighting conditions. A microphone which is used for recording video is located on the right of the lens.
Once you open the phone you will see averagely sized TFT display with 176x220 pixel resolution (30x37 mm), it can display up to 262 000 colors. Display’s quality is good, picture is bright and saturated. Information remains readable when you are outdoors. It’s strange that Pantech decided to use this kind of display for its flagship model, since there’s already a QVGA version – 240x320 which would have been very suitable. Although if you look at Pantech PG8000 it becomes clear why Korean manufacturer decided to use a smaller sized display: models are built on same platform which is not supported by displays of larger than 176x220 pixel resolution. Manufacturer was unable to solve “Freezing” problem of PG8000. It seems that we should expect phones packed with 240x320 displays only with release of new platform from Pantech, although it is still unclear when this will happen.
Keyboard looks pale compared to overall looks, once you open the phone you are expecting something original, but there’s a good thing about it too: all keys are nicely shaped and placed. Four-positional navigation key has Ok button inside, its size is average and there are no problems with using it. Keypad buttons are large, formed in columns right up against each other. You are not expected to have any difficulties when dialing a number. Backlight is pale lilac, and is equally spread among the surface.
Unlike predecessor GI100, PG6200’s fingertip scanner fit into lower part of handset under the keyboard, such location is more comfortable, although it’s not ideal either.
Almost all back side is occupied by battery cover. Its fixation is reliable, there’s no backlash and almost zero chances that it will appear in future.
Handset is packed with Li-Ion battery of 830 mAh. According to Pantech this handset can work up to 230 hours in stand by mode and up to 3.5 hours can be spent for phone calls. When being tested handset worked for 3 days with 30 minutes spent for phone calls and up to 30 minutes for other functions daily. Once you increase the load by using mp3 player for around 3 hours a day battery life shrinks to one day. It takes around 2 hours for battery to fully charge up.
Main menu is presented in 3x3 matrix, all icons are nicely drawn, highlighted item will be animated. Submenu is presented as vertical lists, there is fast number navigation.
Localization is quite good, there are no acronyms. Handset supports predictive T9 text input in both Russian and English.
Size of internal memory is 22mb, it is dynamically spread among all applications. You can extend this size by adding a T-Flash memory card.
Biometric user identification. A fingerprint scanner installed in this handset is used for protecting most confidential information. Access to such section can be gained by pressing Up the navigation key, there is no other way. At first you can gain access only by entering four digit password, in future you will be access this feature only with help of your fingertip. During first activation you will be asked to select which finger you are going to scan, and next step is moving your finger through the scanner three times with average speed.
With help of fingertip you can disable access to 10 phone numbers, as you might have guessed it has something to do with amount of fingers on your hands. You can also block access to some menu items (phonebook, messages, calendar, notes, call list, wap, photo and video gallery). It’s hard to decide weather this function is really needed or no. It was nice to see that manufacturer has increased number of sections which can be blocked from unauthorized access. Many people love the ability o block access to messages, call lists in order to hide information from those who should not access it. And in case a password can be cracked, here it will require your fingertip in order to access the information, and nothing else but that.
But you should not trust that thing too much, as system of information protecting is not ideal. Access to protected information can be gained by copying firmware to your handset. You can become victim of your own privacy obsession by simply accidentally cutting your finger, you will be forced to wait until your wound will heal. Access to all those sections can be granted only for one fingertip. Imagine if you will not be able to read your messages or access your phonebook for few days?! Resetting handset will lead to loss of information, so maybe good old password will be a much safer technology? Even though fingertip scanner looks original to say the least.
In case we talk about information protection, one thing should be reminded – in case fingerprint is not activated, you can always disable access to certain features via digital password.
Our test sample had some problems with scanner, sometimes it took us up to 20 times in order to recognize your fingertip. Scanner works better on commercial samples. At least in those phones that we were able to check – there weren’t any problems.
Besides its main purpose which is storing information, Pantech offers users to use scanner for hand scanning in order to find out your skin condition. It’s hard to say how accurate results are, but most likely this function is made only for entertainment purpose.
Phone book. The phone can store up to 800 numbers. Entries from phones memory and the SIM-card can be displayed separately or together. You can add up to 4 phone numbers for one entry, as well as e-mail address, custom ring tone, add a photo or a video clip, that will be displayed when the person is calling you. The name can be assigned to one of 10 groups. The user can create custom groups or choose one of the 4 preinstalled. Each group can have custom title (up to 19 characters) and ring tone.
The phone supports quick dialing (up to 8 numbers). The phone book can be searched by name (by letters) or by groups.
Caller’s photo will be shown in full-screen mode on both internal and external displays in case of incoming call.
Messages. Up to 100 messages can be stored in the phone’s memory. Handset supports EMS standard, this leads to ability to add small pictures, animations and short ring tones into the message’s body. You can create custom templates. Mass-message sending (up to 5 contacts) is supported as well.
Just like in Pantech PG8000 this model has Text to Speech feature (pronunciation of text information). The function can be either enabled or displayed, this operation can be done from the Message Settings menu. It would have been more interesting if you could activate it for each message separately, for each message, cause I don’t think that you will need this function while you’re in public, perhaps only for public’s amusement. Ideal solution in my opinion would be activating the function when the headset is connected, and the message would be pronounced automatically or, for example, after long key-press of headset’s button. I mean it would be very handy to find out what message you received without pulling the phone out of your pocket.
Another problem with this function is that only messages typed without mistakes will be read correctly. In case if the message has shortenings, acronyms, or the words written with mistakes, the message will be read as sputter, which will be hard to understand. This means that at this stage of evolution, reading messages looks like entertaining function and that’s it.
MMS editor is simple and easy to work with. You can create several slides, the maximum size of outgoing message cannot exceed 100kb. Up to 30 MMS messages can be stored in the phone’s memory.
An integrated POP3/IMAP/SMTP mail client supports several accounts and has an attachment constraint of 300 KB. At that any file can act as an attachment, even the one from the MMC-card memory. Reading Russian codings may be hard, since the device understands only Unicode. Just like in case with MMS messages, only 30 mails can be stored in the phone’s memory, despite their size.
Call lists. Up to 20 entries in each list, everything is rather customary. There is a combines list of 30 numbers. Equal numbers are not summed up, but are shown one after another. If you keep a corresponding image for a caller, then an icon is shown in the list. You can see information about a call duration, call counters and GPRS-traffic.
Media Gallery. Simple file-manager, here you can see the contents of your phone, they are sorted by type. You can see data of the external memory card. The files can be transferred via Bluetooth or IrDA to other devices, as for photos and pictures, they can be transferred via MMS messages, as well as sent to printer directly.
Organizer. Alarm Clock. You can set up to 5 alarm clocks, each of them can be activated single time, or daily, from Monday to Friday, or from Monday to Saturday, or by selected days of the week. Each Alarm Clock can have its own ring tone.
Calendar. You can only use Monthly view or all events all together. For every event you can select the type (birthday, meeting, trip, etc), time, make a small text note, select the alarm tone, time when alarm goes off (in time, or in interval from 15 minutes to 1 day prior to the event). You can also setup single time or monthly, annual reoccurrence of the event. There can be up to 50 entries made in total. Voice memo with up to 3 minutes length can be attached to any of them.
Notes are either text (up to 255 characters) or voice (up to 3 minutes).
World time, calculator, unit converter, stopwatch with 4 intermediate values, countdown timer are also located here.
Settings. Everything related to handset and network settings, display and sound is located here. You can select one of preinstalled photos or animations as wallpaper, as well as install any other picture that you had downloaded or taken with the camera. You can choose one of the styles for displaying the clock and calendar. Backlight timer can be setup as well: from 5 seconds to 10 minutes range. Brightness can be adjusted too.
You can select one of preinstalled static images for external display’s wallpaper.
The phone has 5 profiles, that are fully customized by user, any ring tone can be selected (including mp3 file), the size is not limited. As ring type you can select one of the following options: ring tone only, only vibra, vibrating alert followed by ring tone, or ascending tone.
“Bookmarks” menu allows user to select six most accessed functions of the phone. The menu can be activated by pressing left on the navigation key in stand by mode.
The last option is answering machine. The user can choose one of the three greetings or record them manually (he length cannot exceed 15 seconds). Here you can also choose the time, after which the answering machine will be activated (in the range from 3 to 20 seconds). This menu can be quickly accessed by holding down the volume button in the stand by mode.
Connections. WAP-browser v2.0 is located here. Besides you can enable “USB Mass Storage” option for connecting to PC with the help of data cable, this way when connected to PC you will see contents of internal and external memory without installing additional drivers.
Bluetooth version 1.2 is integrated, the following profiles are supported GAP, SDAP, Serial-Device A, Serial-Device B, OBEX, Headset-AG, Dun-GW, OPP-Client, OPP-Server, FT-Server, FT-Client, Handsfree-AG, BIP-Image Push. It rouses no cavils, everything is quite plain. PG6200 is Pantech’s first model to have A2DP profile that allows using Bluetooth stereo headsets. You can set the type of memory where to store the files received via Bluetooth by default.
Multimedia. MP3-player allows playing songs with various bitrates, they can stored in custom folders on the memory card or internal memory. Search is not available, you should note that when copying the information. Playlists allow the user to group songs the way he likes. There are preinstalled equalizers for different genres, although they don’t help much. Player cannot work as minimized application.
Realization of mp3 player is plain weak and is no different from those available in previous Pantech models. Players supports following formats: MP3, AAC, AAC+, AMR (for dictaphone).
Java. Handset supports MIDP 2.0. There are three preinstalled games - Pantech Cup (football), Run (arcade) and AquaPangPang (arcade). Additional applications can be added only via WAP.
Camera. Both internal and external displays can be used as viewfinders. The following resolutions are supported – UXGA (1600x1200), SXGA (1280õ1024), XGA (1024x768), VGA (640õ480), QVGA (320õ240). You can setup the shots quality - Fine, Normal, Low. A series of shorts (from 4 to 15) with certain intervals can be made, you can choose the speed for that (slow, average, fast). White balance settings are as follows: daylight, daylight lamp, cloudy, incandescent lamp.
The flash can be either enabled or disabled. Nothing special can be said about that, it’s more of a bright flashlight, since it doesn't help much when making shots in darkness. The photos can be stored default folder, or in custom one.
Mosaic style of shots can be made as well – from 2 to 9 shots. In this case photos are displayed as one shot. You can apply frames (10 preinstalled) and effects (warm, sepia, antique, clear, moonshine, negative, b&w, emboss). There’s 4x digital zoom, but it’s better not to use it.
Shots turn out quite okay, but real colors get deformed a little, picture turns out darker than it really is, edges are not in focus, they are slightly blurred. A great amount of noise appears when shots are taken in bad lighting conditions.
Video can also be recorded, this time it’s 3GP format in three resolutions: SQCIF, QCIF and QVGA. You can also setup four quality types: MMS, low, average and high. Quality is pretty much okay. For QVGA resolution FPS cannot exceed 15, as for lower resolutions: you are free to choose from 15 or 30 fps.
The phones in album can be viewed as list, as thumbnails (up to 9 photos displayed at once), or one by one, this way each photo will be shown in full-screen. You can edit the photos (including ability to cut part of the image and slightly improve it).
The clips in the video player can be played in window only, there’s no fullscreen mode.
This handset offers admirable reception quality which is no worse than any other modern GSM-phone. Volume of speaker is not always enough, and sometimes you might want it to be louder, but there are no problems with microphone’s sensitivity. This handset has 64-tone polyphonic ring tones, which sound pretty much averagely, but situation can always be fixed by installing mp3 file as ring tone. Volume of ring tone is high, you will hear it almost everywhere, and as for vibrating alert, it could have been stronger, sometimes you will not feel it at all. Loudspeaker feature is present and there are no concerns regarding that fact.
This model is mostly interesting due to its design, it draws attention. Functionality could have been a little higher, after all this is company’s flagship. Unfortunately, despite adding A2DP profile for Stereo Headsets, manufacturer decided to leave mp3 player unchanged. Biometric identification is a feature that we’d like to see in a handset, but after closer investigation it seems that it’s not that needed. Well of course this model has the right for living, especially as fashion solution, it will be quite popular. Presence of Bluetooth, 2mpx camera and mp3 player, as well as memory card support and fingerprint scanner – all packed in a trendy case, that’s a must-have for some, and these people will be ready to pay 450 USD as it will be the price once model will be released. PG6200 will go for sale in end of May beginning of June. Besides standard package there will be another one that will include Bluetooth headset that will make phone 35-40 USD more expensive.
Published 27 June 2006
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