Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Oystr and Total Call

I meant to mention this yesterday but I was at Wal-Mart AGAIN yesterday and they let me use a working Kyocera Oystr for a few minutes before they plugged it into the charger (low battery).

And no, as I thought at first but wavered in that thought, it doesn't have an external caller ID display. Too bad it doesn't; it would be a sweet phone for the price if it did.

The speaker on the outside is loud enough I suppose, though the ringtones aren't all that appealing. Also, it takes about 3 seconds after the flip closes\opens for the associated sound (if any; you assign the sounds and settings for a lot of stuff on this phone, which is nice) to play. Ech.

I didn't test voice quality but the phone did seems to be holding a signal inside the building. However, the Openwave web browser would simply not load any of the Virgin Mobile web pages for whatever reason.

The screen, while pretty small, is legible and bright, but suffers from a bad case of viewing angle color distortion. And I mean BAD, at least if you're looking at vertical sensitivity. This causes some of the color schemes\theme to be practically useless. But on the other half of the phone, the keypad works nicely and the black inside of the phon contrasts nicely with the white exterior which somehow reminds me of an iPod though the plastic material reminds me of my Boost i450, which isn't saying too much good. Though the flip action is nice and tight. No wobblies!

As far as user interface goes, I would change the menu display from icon view to list view right away, for the main menu (the icons are too small the first way). Other than that everything is laid out pretty nicely and it's generally a nice beginner phone with such advanced features as a speakerphone and full web access...and an information item for practically every option on the phone that, for example, tells what cell phone location or the contacts screen does. A nice touch.

Overall, the phone, aka the Kyocera KX-9D, is a great beginner phone with a few extra features that make it bearable for non-newbies. Aside from the painful lack of a caller ID screen, it's a sure-footed upgrade from the Audiovox 8610 which has been on Virgin Mobile's site and lining store shelves for about two years now. But I suppose I can forgive the omission of the caller ID display since the phone is $20 cheaper. Though having a big fat Virgin Mobile logo where the display should be is a bit annoying. But for the price I'll again forgive them their trespass. But then again I'm not getting Virgin Mobile anytime soon :).

And now for my defense of Total Call, with which I have zero affiliation thusfar so don't hatch any conspiracy theories yet. The service, while without a grace period (not too big of a deal; TMo doesn't have a grace period either as far as keeping your minutes is concerned) and with only 60 days of service on their cards, they do have their advantages.

First off, their 60-day refills start at $10. So $5 a month. Which is the cheapest I've found for 10 cent minutes. Yeah, that's the other grat thing about them. They work off Sprint, just like STi, except there are no fees like STi has and things look pretty stable. Tracfone is good for stuff like refver-a-friend bonuses etc. and roaming but Total Call looks great in the area of low monthly cost with no gimmicks (Trac's RAF counts as a gimmick in my eyes really) and low per-minute costs with no fees (hint hint STy...er...STi) and for me that's what counts when it comes to my main phone.

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