Saturday, December 30, 2006

Motorola c261 & Tracfone New Features

This phone, due to its being washed (ech!), is now sitting out to dry, but nonetheless I should be able to give a pretty good review of this phone, its features, and Tracfone's new Cingular-powered features of its own...

First off, this phone has the new prepaid features that the LG 3280 incorperates, such as a double-digit airtime counter, a rearranged prepaid menu with airtime adding on top and code entry on the bottom.And of course incoming SMS is units each. And now we know why there is a double-digit readout on the airtime display...

...for buying ringtones! Yes, you can buy ringtones and graphics from the convenience of your slick-looking Motorola c261 (especially slick in the matte red I got it in). And the prices aren't horribly expensive...5.97 units per ringtones translates to a maximum of $1.99 per ringtone, with a minimum of $1.19 each if you're looking at 20-cent-per-minute airtime. Sounds pretty good to me, at least compared with $2.99 ringtones on Boost Mobile.

And yes, the phone has web access to get these ringtones, as well as view news stories and play online games and such. Small problems:

  1. It's slow...really slow. Motorola doesn't have EDGE on this phone (wait...they don't have EDGE on the Razr or the Pebl either...geez) and the GPRS seems quite sluggish. Either that or the web portal is serving over cousin Vinnie's DSL connection...serving the 50 people who use web on the c261 all at the same time...
  2. It's limited. Want to go to Facebook? How about Google? HowardForums? No, no and no. Just Tracfone's own predefined WAP deck. T-Zones on Tracfnes anyone?
  3. It costs! Half a unit per minute for any data access, whether it's downloading a ringtone, browsing the news, or sending\receiving an MMS message...on top of the MMS or ringtone charges!

And MMS costs 1 unit per message either way. Not my idea of dirt cheap, but you take what you can get with Tracfone...even though sending MMS messages is a slow in it takes a minute or two to send an 80k message. Bleh.

Not to discount the phone, though. It is svelte, as mentioned before. While it's no Slice, it is slim enough, and its rounded edges make it look like a higher-end phone than the Slice, at least in my opinion. The keypad is easy enough to press, and the phone's screen is nice and large, especially for a bar. With a 128x160 resolution, the screen is big enough to offset the kludginess of Motorola's user interface, and texting is quite viable, though iTAP ain't quite what T9 is in terms of ease of use, at least to my reckoning.

Ohyeah, and the phone has a camera in it, a first for a Tracfone. Yes, everyone thought that Tracfone wouldn't come out with the c261, picking instead the cameraless c259 (I think that's the model number). But the jolly green giant of prepaid wireless put through their first camera phone, and its a passable camera phone, too. We're not talking print-quality photos, but on the highest quality setting the photos are quite good enough for casual emailing and pasting online in random places,albeit via the oh-so-slow MMS system, as the phone's rumored Bluetooth is either nonexistent or disabled and I know of no cable that can hook up to this phone.

Side note: the camera is VGA, and the screen is portrait, so you have an annoying conundrum when setting wallpapers: yours with a border or Motorola's without a border? Anyway, pictures look good, and the screen is maybe half again as large vertically as that of the Slice, on par with the average contract flip phone. Small problem with the screen: it solarizes very easily when viewing photos, at least if you're holding the phone normally. Horizontally, wierdly enough, the images are fine...except they're of course rotated 90 degrees...

Now to the important parts about any phone that's supposed to be used as a phone: reception and battery life. Reception-wise the phone is great, as far as receiving calls goes. Cingular's network works well with this phone in that respect. Transmission? Not so much, but I'm thinking that the problem is more network-related than due to the phone itself: Cingular "razes the bar" once again! I actually had to switch phones (used my dad's Verizon-powered Trac Nokia 2126) when talking to someone due to my cutting out on his end, even though I had a signal that was quite good.

Battery life is okay, though merely okay. Three or four days seems to be hwo long it lasts with light to normal usage, which would be on the good side for CDMA but is merely fair for GSM. If you're looking for great battery life, look at the LG 3280 or something like that, not at the most feature0laden phone that Tracfone offers.

In my opinion, this phone is a big step forward for Tracfone, being as how it puts web and MMS on the table as network features and a camera as a phone feature. The phone's onboard apps and games are nice, too. But there's no reason to get this phone over another Tracfone unless you want the camera and the ability to get ripped, download ringtones and graphics and view news storeies...if you want GSM and just usually talk and text the Nokia 2600 is still a great choice. If you want more coverage while still being SingleRate, the LG 3280 is best. However, if you do want a camera, and an okay one at that, Tracfone now gives you an option, and now it's at a fairly palatable price ($49.99 plus tax currently from their site for a black one, and you can get a red phone, which looks really me, I own one :)...from Wal-Mart's site for around the same price). Heck, maybe BabbleBug still has one in stock...e-mail me if you're interested and I'll ask.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've been able to bypass the Tracfone WAP homepage by going to the "go to URL" section and typing in a WAP address. You can go to and download free ringtones this way. but thats all I've tried.