Thursday, May 10, 2007

Kyocera Cyclops & Virgin Mobile, Part 2

Okay, here's the second part of my Cyclops review. Having covered the parts of the phone that make it, well, a phone, I will now cover the extra-phone-icular stuff....

First off, Kyocera has built some nice features into this phone's firmware, though in my opinion the interface still seems soooo 2002, probably because the regular Kyocera graphics and everything on the external screen (which isn't very bright at all; they shoulda used a REAL black and green display instead of whatever they used) are pixelated. And there's wasted space on the text messaging and picture messaging forms, but whatever. I could go on with a laundry list of problems with the user interface on the Cyclops but in doing so I'd reveal that the phone has a TON of functionality built in, from the usual calculators and such to a nifty little way to quickly find phone numbers: press the number for the letter the name starts with, then scroll.

And to dispel any premonitions about the camera, it works very well in good light, not so well in indoor or bad light. 640x480 gives you a sharp picture generally, but if you want to go large the 1.3 megapixel (1280x1024, so yes it's a true 3 versus 1280x960) resolution is certainly there, though on a really sharp picture you'll not be able to send the photo, and in any case it'll take longer (640x480 photos send really seconds...on the network...but more on that later). For a picture in good conditions, take a look at As you can see, on a good day the phone will actually make full use of all its pixel count (side note: this picture was taken last weekend on a church camping trip).

And that brings to the end the really phone-related wait...the phone has really good (fast) Java capability (fast for apps, see later) and comes with a dearth of wallpapers (no big deal) and ringtones (big deal...all the ones on there are annoying), forcing you to either buy a $2 or $2.50 ringtone (my choice was the former) or buy a cable and "roll your own". Annoying, that.

Anyway, to the services, which are what make this phone really good...

First off, this phone was the first one to incorperate Virgin Audio Messaging (VAM). It's a Java app that basically receives up-to-30-second-long audio SMSes and sends them. First 100 are free for now, then they're 10 cents (figures zeroed-out monthly). Anyhow, though this service shares many of the features of the Kodiak push to talk used by Cingular and Alltel, it's not nearly as fast, so it's very apt that Virgin Mobile didn't market it as such.

Next on the coolness scale is e-mail. I haven't really messed with it but the Java-based client (which works with AOL, AIM and Yahoo mail, plus some ISPs' services) is good enough, and clean enough, plus you get notifications when you get new email. And emails are part of your messaging bucket (like text, IM and picture...!...messages, which can be as cheap as a penny apiece), which is nice, though in actuality a data connection for the email on Virgin Mobile is cheaper than a penny per message.

IM is nice too. The only annoying thing is that if you use predictive text (Kyocera's positively painful Zi method, wresting the prize from Motorola's iTAP) a text entry window pops up which requires a few more button presses than the usual text box. But other than that, IM is a joy to use...too bad you can't get on AIM and Yahoo simultaneously, for total IM compatibility (if you don't count Google Talk...Windows Live works with Yahoo now). You get a message (like on email and VAM) when you get a new IM, including on the outside of the phone, if the app isn't running, and it takes about 10 seconds from pressing OK till you get that message (opening the app, opening the data connection, receiving the message). Which isn't horrible.

And yes, Sprint's 1x web is no joke. Web on the Cyclops is plenty fast for the price (10 KB per penny if you're paying by the month...almsot as cheap as Amp'd...), both sending (remember I said picture messages were fast) and receiving, and though you can't download "alien" Java apps, ringers or graphics onto the phone via OpenWave (stupid evil fascist materialist Virgin Mobile pigs heh) you can browse the web otherwise with ease, whether you're looking at Facebook or GMail, though OpenWave will positively butcher normal HTML pages.

Lastly, if you don't like the annoying fact that Virgin Mobile wants you to buy their stuff, only cable can free you from your preturbed state. Sorry, couldn't resist, but in truth a $15 cable from eBay plus the knowhow shared in the last few posts will grant you the power to use your phone even more...Opera Mini anyone? Who said Virgin Mobile phones weren't hackable?

So, besides build quality and battery life (want an extended battery? How does $50 sound for double life? I'm still thinking about it...) and the fact that Kyocera's phone interface isn't pretty, this phone is a winner. I hope that newer phones won't have the sorta wierd isses mine has, and if that hope is granted this is a solid phone.

So there's the Kyocera Cyclops review...and no, I'm not giving away this phone. :) It's my main cell now.

1 comment:

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