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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Review of GSM-handset Alcatel OneTouch C701/C707

Live photos of Alcatel OneTouch C701/C707


Sales package:

  • Handset
  • 700 mAh Li-Ion battery
  • User Guide
  • Charger
  • microSD memory card (varies by region)
  • MiniUSB data cable
  • Wired stereo-headset

Alcatel has decided to settle down in the niche of entry-level music handsets, and that’s the reason market saw release of the fold phones they needed - OneTouch C-701/C-707. These two are set apart only by the front fascia, as otherwise they are completely identical. Specifically, the C-701 always has plain finish, while the senior offering sports one of the 4 patterns. The same goes for the dedicated player controls on the casing – the junior solution retains unsophisticated and conventional-looking buttons, whereas in the C-707 they are designed to look like a small navigation pad.

The C-701 comes in two color schemes –emerald green and orange. With these on, it looks stylish and captivating. The entire casing is coated in non-slippery soft touch plastic, making for great tactile feel.

In its turn the C-707 boasts 4 glossy face plates differing in tracery on them. At that the spines are made of standard glossy plastic, while the back cover shows off leather-like texture.

The handset measures up at 89x45,7x22,5 mm and weights 83 grams, which makes for comfortable fit in hand and easy flip-open experience. This is actually a two-band device. The quality of materials used is something we would like to praise, but generally it a trait of all latest Alcatel-branded proposals on the market – they simply look much more luxurious than they cost, or, better to say, stand out against the backdrop of other similarly-priced offerings.

Video, handset’s looks (mpg, 11.9 Mb)>>>

Saving for the music keys, there are no side-mounted buttons found on the phone, two ridges on the top are not the speakers, but the flaps covering miniUSB socket and hot-swap enabled memory expansion slot respectively.

The one-line outer display with blue backlighting shows caller’s name or number and current track title.

Unfolding the handset reveals a TFT display (65 K colors) with lacklustre picture, which is not always legible in the sun. Measuring 1,5 inches from corner to cornet (128x160 pixels resolution), it accommodates up to 6 text and 3 service lines. The fonts are finely detailed, allowing us to have no gripes with it. The screen implemented in this model is obviously weak, being characteristic for ultra-budget solutions.

The numeric keys are bulky and thus convenient to work with. All buttons are lit in soft blue, visible in various environments.

The back cover has no gap; detaching it unveils a 700 mAh Li-Ion battery. As the manufacturer claims, it can keep the handset up and running for 10 hours (talk time) and 270 hours (stand by time) respectively. In conditions of Moscow networks the battery life for the phone averaged about 3 days with 40 minutes of calls and minimum use of other functions. The most you can squeeze out of the handset with a headset plugged in and music playing is about 7 hours. It takes the C-701/C-707 a tad less than 2 hours to charge up from empty to full.

Menu

With 10 Mb of built-in memory, the device allows you to install any applications or store personal data. But you’d better use a memory card for such purposes, which is at your service to the last bit. The software filling is standard for the company’s latest-and-greatest devices, being utterly unified and set apart from the previous generation of phones, specifically Alcatel S853. The differences lie in more unsophisticated functions, phonebook in particular, forgoing of EMS support, voice notes in calendar and etc. This model is a down-graded edition of the C-825, having fewer settings to offer.

Video, browsing the handset’s menu (mpg, 5.74 Mb)>>>

The main menu can be displayed as a 3x4 grid by grid, or, if you like, a list or one-item-per-screen view. For all menu items shortcut navigation is available (including the second level, though apps and functions won’t launch this way)

In most submenus you will see lists with horizontally arranged tabs on the top, which allows for easier sorting of functions by type. Generally speaking, the handset’s menu is laid out pretty well and leaves an overall good impression. Although the C-825 localization is far from perfect (original name of some menu items affects its quality as well, though) but it is a definite improvement over the predecessors.

Listing the drawbacks, we can’t pass by the lack of ability to send any lists with flagged files over Bluetooth (as only the first item is sent whatever the case is). The same goes for copying lists onto the memory card – the first item gets transferred, all other get booted. The most common way of Service-messages behavior, that didn’t pass over the C-825, is probably the most annoying about the phone – for example a service message of our carrier always hangs on the screen as new and thus keeps the backlighting on, cutting the batter life dramatically.

USB-connection. The device enables you to use standard USB date cable, on plugging in the battery starts recharging automatically. Three operation modes are available – COM-port emulation, and USB Mass Storage (provides access only to the only memory card). Data transfer rate makes up about 550-660 Kb/s.

Phonebook. The C-701/C-707 can store up to 800 entries in its phonebook plus the SIM-card memory is also available. In the general list both numbers from the phone and SIM-card memory can be displayed. The horizontal tabs allow you to quickly jump from the general list to entries saved on the SIM-card or to the handset’s own contact list. The last tab serves for showing groups – unlike vast majority handsets, the groups here are not directly assigned to already submitted contacts, letting you select entries from the general list or enter them by yourself (by default you are allowed to enter text and phone numbers). The groups are for bulk mailing and assigning custom picture, tune or video.

In settings the user can choose the fields he wants to be displayed during information input, which it is quire comfortable, since such fields as address, for example, don’t make much sense.

Any entry may contain such fields as Name (there is no separate field for Last Name), up to 4 phone numbers (field type is pre-defined), e-mail address, company name, birthday (not bound up with the calendar). Also you are free to set a personal ring tone, video clip and picture for each contact. When calling the picture is displayed in full-screen mode, type of the number and group (if the contact belongs to one) are also shown. In the general list you will find both the name and the default number, as well as a thumbnail image.

Messaging. The device supports concatenated messages containing up to 1224 symbols, at that predictive text input can be used. Ten text templates are at your disposal. The number of messages stored in the C-701/C-707 is limited only to the volume free memory; you can also categorize your mail by creating custom folders. The manufacturer has forgone EMS support.

Topping out at 300 Kb, an MMS message can be composed with the help of one of the five templates. Generally speaking, there is nothing special about this department.

Games and applications. The C-825 comes preinstalled with two games, Heliminator and Rocket. New games can be uploaded; heap size for Java applications makes up 1 Mb.

Camera. The handset comes equipped with a VGA camera, which allows taking pictures in the following resolutions:

  • 640x480;
  • 320x240;
  • 128x160;
  • 160x120;

Multi-shot mode for taking 3 or 5 shots in rapid succession, as well as mosaic mode (resolution is reduced automatically) is available. Three types of file compression are built in the C-825 – economy, standard and high. The timer can be also set on 5, 10 or 15 seconds. White balance can be automatically adjusted for daylight, lamplight, fluorescent lamp or cloudy weather. The following overlays are available – grayscale, sepia green, sepia blue, color invert, gray invert, blackboard, whiteboard, copper carving, blue carving, embossment, contrast, sketch. Plus there are three other overlays which you can modify: Contrast, Sharpness, Brightness, Saturation. The handset comes loaded with two types of frames - horizontal and vertical.

Standard settings include digital zoom. In terms of bundled settings the camera in the C-701/C-707 is remarkable for being very flexible and possessing loads of parameters available for adjusting. Unfortunately, snaps quality has nothing to do with camera’s functionality, even on the screen such images look very bad.

(+) maximize, 640x480, JPEG

(+) maximize, 640x480, JPEG

(+) maximize, 640x480, JPEG

(+) maximize, 640x480, JPEG

(+) maximize, 640x480, JPEG

(+) maximize, 640x480, JPEG

(+) maximize, 640x480, JPEG

(+) maximize, 640x480, JPEG

Video. Video is captured in 3GP format at a resolution of 176x144 pixels with sound. All in all, the video quality is quite average, the C-825 has nothing to shout about.

Video sample (3gp, 328 Kb)>>>

My creations. All files acquired with the help of the camera are stored in this menu item. The handset is quite sluggish when it comes to opening files (the memory type has no impact on it) as drawing thumbnails takes considerable amount of time.

Performance. The device does not support 3D Java, so we’ve managed to launch only the first two test packets. The results are more than just moderate - they are in fact inferior to all the products by other companies. Overall, this doesn’t have anything to do with the interface – the device turns out to be pretty swift, to make sure of this watch the video clips offered in this review.

Media Album. This item contains all multimedia files but their categorization is quite quirky at least for those who have not dealt with Alcatel products before. In the main list you will find My Audios, My images, My videos etc. At that these menu items are assigned for already loaded files, rather than for the photos made by bundled camera. The latter are stored in My creations, where no categorization is applied. Memory card is viewed separately, data structure on the card is pre-defined, but you’ll have no hard time figuring out what is what by looking at the folders name. Though, you can create your own folders as well.

In the lists you may also see thumbnails of images that can be viewed in full screen mode.

Music player. The player’s settings include repeated playback of current track, repeat of all tracks, shuffle and repeat shuffle. You are at liberty to choose one of 7 equalizers – Normal, Bass, Dance, Classical, Treble, Party, Pop, Rock. Each of them has 8 manageable bands with the ability of its adjustment in the way you wish.

Four interface colors are available – Lime, Red, Black, Light Green. Though they alter only the skin color, rather than the interface layout.

Playback via Bluetooth - the player doesn’t know how to transfer sound to a connected Bluetooth-device automatically, only if you have launched the corresponding mode it will turn to your BT accessory. You can surely notice that this scheme is somewhat similar to what Motorola applies in its solutions. You are able to jump between tracks, adjust volume, but you can’t see track’s title on the headset (DS970 by Sony Ericsson).

Music should be stored on the memory card in Music folder, as otherwise the device won’t find it. Tracks can be sorted by genre, artist, album or you can call up the tracks you played back recently. Any track can be added to My Star List, which is something like a list of favorites. You are also enabled to throw various tracks onto playlists.

Wrapping it all up, the player does pretty well and is in line with other handsets. In stand by mode track title and artist are flashing on the screen, but there is no place for a progress bar or remaining time. The rewind is progressive. The dedicated player controls allow you to manage playback as well as call up the player itself (long press of the Play key).

Tools. All functions collected here can be attributed to extras.

Bluetooth. Bluetooth settings are extremely unsophisticated: the handset can be paired up with other devices, A2DP profile is also supported. Bluetooth will give you no hard time, that’s for sure (version 2.0 + EDR, Broadcom BCM2045 chipset).

Organizer. Only month-view is available with the C-701/C-707’s calendar. To each date unlimited number of events can be assigned with the ability to set up an alarm, make the event recurrent (week days, weeks, moths). Everything is quite basic, no additional capabilities except for view of concatenated events list are provided.

Alarm. The phone offers five alarm clocks; you are free to turn on/off any of these. Each alarm is set to trigger off at certain time, on weekdays, the following features are also available: Snooze (up to 10 minutes), alert type (silent alert and tune, tune, silent alert, silent).

Calculator is run-of-the-mill application with memory function.

Converter is used to transform units of weigh and length as well as currencies.

Voice notes can be recorded in WAV or AMR format. By default they will be stored in the phone memory, memory card can also be selected for these purposes. Record length is restricted only by memory volume. The sound recorder can be stated up during a call.

My shortcuts. It is the list of user-created shortcuts that can retain both phone functions and link to web resources as well as phone numbers. At that numbers can be inserted manually or taken from the phonebook. All in all My shortcuts allows instant calling up of a particular feature, perhaps it will seem comfortable to some.

Call lists. The device offers 3 call lists with 20 entries in each. Within a list identical entries are summarized if they go one after another, then the number of calls is shown in detailed view. Also, viewing detailed information on any call you can check out call date and time. In this item you will also find statistics on calls duration, GPRS-sessions, call divert settings.

Settings. This section provides access to settings that have something to do with the handset.

Melodies. On each of the horizontal tabs you can manage setting for a certain event, the first tab is dedicated to ring tone, with the help of second one you may choose the mode (silent alert, silent alert and tune, silent alert then tune, silent, discreet), the third is about the volume, while the fourth serves for managing key tones, the fifth stands for message alert and the sixth tabs lets you choose alarm clock tune. You are also free to choose tune for the device switch-on/off, as well as for opening of the slider.

Color. Here you can customize menu color. By default there are four color schemes, matching the themes that come pre-installed installed with the phone.

Slider. Here you will find the settings for adjusting flip action settings, i.e. auto answer on flicking the C-701/707 open, and termination of any operation when the phone is folded back to closed state.

Themes alter the interface looks, change colors and the default tunes.

“Flight mode” mode (Antenna off Mode) – the network part of the phone gets disabled.

Equalizer – settings for the equalizer, that actually do alter sonic experience, are surprisingly stored outside the player itself. With their help you can choose one of the 7 equalizers – Normal, Bass, Dance, Classical, Treble, Party, Pop, Rock. Each of them has 8 manageable bands with the ability of its adjustment in a way you wish.

Display. Here you can select wallpapers - for this purpose any file may be used. Also in this item you will pick images for the phone switch-on/off splash screen (any picture or video), and layout of the main menu (grid, list or thumbnails).

Time. This is where you choose the time zone and set up date and time auto-update settings according to network settings.

Keys – settings for default actions for the soft keys and the shortcuts for numeric buttons. In the latter case you should decide what you want to assign to numeric keys: functions or phone numbers, as mixed mode is not available.

In the settings you may also find T9 vocabulary, auto key lock, input language selection and menu language settings.

Services. SIM-menu is available via this item.

WAP. The built-in Browser 2.0 supports certificates, yet is not capable of something out of this world when it comes to scaling standard pages. It has nothing to shout about, except for the low speed, which is really disappointing.

Impressions

The volume of 64-chord polyphony is rather high (above the average), the phone rings loud enough just about in any environment. The silent alert power is a bit above the moderate. The reception quality is not the thing we would complain about.

The device can not boast rich settings for handling the memory card, the media player is also somewhat insipid, yet is not that bad at all thanks to Bluetooth’s contribution into the handset’s selection of features.The strong side of the model is its price and quality casing (especially that of the C-701). This offering will be available for 120 USD without memory card included and 140 USD with a 512 Mb unit, which is very adequate price for such solution. And those placing functionality above all else, as well as good materials used and brand, should really consider going for Sony Ericsson Z310i, however its price tag is heftier by 70 USD. The C-701/C-707 is definitely not a best-seller but will attract people who don’t want to shell out much for a handset or looking for a phone that would suit a kid. The handset is due out in early April.

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