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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Review Alcatel 715

Alcatel 715 was firstly presented on Cebit exhibition, it was a really first attempt of the company to win a business market segment. Manufacturers tried to include all features which can be useful for the consumer. Let's see whether the attempt was successful.

The phone is available in 4 colours: Brushed Gold, Pacific Blue, Carbon Black and Titanium Grey. But only a front part of the phone can be completely changed, a rim around it and both sides remain silver and a rear cover is always made of the dark plastic.

A phone has an oblong, rectangular form and a bottom, bevel edge. It's not large and it's handy, though the dimensions are 116x43x20 and a weight is 88g. The handset is distinguished by its large screen with the resolution of 100x150 pixels. It can be compared only with the one in Panasonic GD95. The screen contains up to 10 text lines, besides one line with title and a service line with icons. In reality you'll be able to see only 8 text lines because all titles are wide and well-designed. Anyway 8 lines are sufficient. There is a feature of increasing a font size (large and standard).

The screen has a dark-blue backlighting. Plastic that covers a display flashes strongly in different conditions, probably because of a large screen and slightly prominent form of plastic. Of course, this factor doesn't have influence on the work of the phone, it is just a minor shortcoming. A picture on the display rotates at the angle of 90 degrees when you play games (not for all applications). It's really easier to see the picture in such position.

You can set either one of the 16 animated pictures or just a static picture (one of the 46) as a wallpaper. I preferred a wallpaper with jumping over the fence sheep. It's also possible to adjust an animation while switching on/off the phone.

A key-pad made of plastic is placed under a display. Keys are excessively hard when pressed because they are too high. Besides they are closely spaced to each other and it causes additional difficulties. There is also a 4-directional navigate joystick which responds also on pressing (similar to OK key). You get used to the navigation very quickly, after a little practice there will be no mistakes at all. Except one case when you press joystick (you should position your thumb very carefully). In the whole, I didn't like a key-pad and I couldn't remember the same problems in other phones.

A personal key is placed on the left-hand side. You can associate it with any action or use it for a quick access to 2 menu items (short and long pressing).

Infrared port and a strap holder are positioned on the upper side. A handsfree connector and a battery charging connector are placed on the right-hand side. Such localization of these two connectors are similar to other phones from Alcatel.

There is a cork, which is hidden an external antenna connector, on the rear cover. It doesn't fasten to the cover and so it's difficult but possibly to lose it. A cork for cable connector is holds stronger, it is fasten by a small cord to the phone. To save a free space this connector is a bit recessed.

If you open a rear cover you'll find a reliable holder of a SIM card, but a red lug allows to pull a it easily.

The lithium-polymer battery, which is located on the rear cover, has a capacity of 720 mAh. According to the manufacturer it provides up to 260 hours of work in the standby mode and up to 6.5 hours in the talk mode. In reality it worked 5 days in case of 40 minutes of talking (MTS Network) and 25 minutes of using other applications. A time of recharging is about 2.5 hours.

Menu

Press a joystick to enter to the main menu. You can move through it only with a help of joystick, there are no shortcut numbers here to easy a navigation. Partly it is substituted for a personal key but only two items can be set to it. To access an upper level you need to press a clear key (C ). As always an information can be displayed in two ways here: either icons with text explanations or just icons.

Phone book. A strong point of the phone book is that you can create up to 13 directories in the phone memory. There are 4 directories by default: SIM-card phone numbers, general catalogue, personal numbers, colleges numbers. One can associate a special ringing tone to each caller group.

You can record approximately all information about a person to one block: name, surname, company, job, up to 7 numbers, 2 e-mail addresses, post address (5 field), a text note. You also have up to 4 field to add a personal information. It's possible to move through the fields using joystick. If you don't need some fields you can just leave them, but while viewing the records all fields will be displayed, unfortunately you can't adjust the fields number.

To view all records regarding to one block you should click several bookmarks because the information is sorted to different sections. The idea of the engineers was the following: if you highlight a record in the name list, it would be scrolled and you could have seen a phone number or other information you need. In reality it's very difficult to do, the records scroll so quickly that you can't remember anything and you have to enter the menu to view it statically.

It's also possible to associate one of the pre-default pictures with a name, it will be displayed while incoming call. An icon of the phone number type is shown on the screen too.

There is a voice dialing (up to 20 numbers) in the phone. A voice tag can be assigned to any phone number from the phone memory or to any menu item (up to 20).

Messages. A phone supports a EMS standard, hence, you can use animation, graphics and sounds in the messages body. Also there is a set of nice emoticons here.

You can send simple and concatenated messages composed of several ones. There is a predictive text input - T9 (only for English). While reading a message you can rotate the screen at the angle of 90 degrees, sometimes it's very convenient. It's possible to save your own templates.

Diary. There is a daily, weekly and monthly view of the calendar. The phone also supports a landscape mode. A weak point is that you can't quickly enter to a necessary item and you have to view the calendar by weeks to find it. It's irritating greatly when you need to view events of the previous year, for instance.

There is a to-do list which allows you to set a reminder to any event.

My setup. Here you can personalize your phone, for example, choose any wallpaper you like (animation or a graphics. A set of pictures is wide, some of the images are very nice.

There is also a graphical editor and a melodies editor here. Alcatel 715 has more than 38 16-polyphonic ringing tone. Among all melodies you can find not usual tones (voice of cow, a birds or an alarm).

An item “Loaded data” is placed in this submenu too. Here the files sorted by items are kept. The phone has a dynamic memory, it has 530 Kb of free space by default. The more information you add, the less space is left.

What else? Voice tags(up to 20) to special menu items are also setup here.

Tools. A calculator, currency converter and an alarm-clock are positioned in this submenu. You can not only set an alarm type (once or daily) but also set how long an alarm-clock will ring.

In the clock item you can set a local time, a second time zone and view a world time. There is also a world map here to easy your search of cities.

Dictaphone. As always you are limited by the remaining memory space. You can record about 2 minutes in reality but not more than 4 messages. A Dictaphone also works in the talk mode.

There are also settings of GPRS and WAP-browser here.

SyncML is hidden under “Synchronization”. You can not only exchange data (diary, to-do list, contacts) with other devices but also remotely renew them on the corporate server. It's very handy.

Games. There are three games in Alcatel 715: Killer Expo, Run Run Run and Botwar. All games are rather simple. They are pleasing to play on the large screen, though a landscape mode is not very comfortable. It's not convenient to hold a phone by both hands but it's also difficult to do it by one. You can play in Botwar with other players who have the same phone model.

Events. All links to all events such as received files, messages and motes, etc. are collected here, Now you don't need to enter a menu to view quickly all those things that you received.

There is a CD with a software and a cable to PC connection (slot RS232) in a standard kit.

Three applications are available:

  • Intellisyne for Alcatel 715 - it synchronize date between PC and a phone. You should point programs, to what and from what the data would be taken. There is no own interface. It's not convenient sometimes. For example there was no my mail client (TheBat!) in the program list, though it exists in the PDAs.
  • Mobile Phone Tools enables you to send faxes, write short messages on the PC, view a phone book, create e-mail messages and setup GPRS. To say the truth Intellisync is unnecessary if you have this application. You can even dial a number from PC to any person in your contact list. Naturally handsfree will be used for the talk. In addition to other features you can also set a graphic wallpaper here.
  • Content manager allows to create logotypes, wallpapers, compose melodies and download them to the phone. There is a library of pre-loaded files. One of the best programs in this class, everything is understandable. You can import melodies from the existed files. So there is a great variety of settings.

Impressions

Alcatel 715 has an excellent sound quality, there were no lineouts. A sound volume is more than sufficient, in the handsfree mode the phone works good inside, it is almost not heard outside. This function also works badly when the phone lies on the table with a cable. A volume of the polyphonic ringing tone is average, you hear it not always. A vibrating alert is weak.

Advantages are a large screen and a good autonomy. Drawbacks are uncomfortable key-pad, complicated menu organization and impossibility to use landscape mode while playing games (you can't hold a phone by one hand). The phone doesn't inform about missed calls and it's awful (events mode doesn't work properly). You quickly get used to joystick but you should make a selection very accurate, a little mistake and you'll move to another item. It's inconvenient to press a joystick, sometimes you should do it several times.

A software included in the standard kit is excellent. It's a pity that a cable has a RS232 slot, not USB.

The phone is expected at the end of September on the market. A price will be about 300-320$ in Europe.

It's rather difficult to estimate this phone. But I think it made rather negative impression. Yes, it has many features but you can't use it easily, there are many minor shortcomings which spoil everything. The phone has both raw software and raw technological decisions.

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