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Motorola A780

Motorola A780
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By Dave - Houston, US (Bones Boy@Howardforum)

I got the A780, and have been playing with it for the last few days. This phone is incredible. My only experience with smartphones has been the Kyocera 7135 and Treo 600. I have lots of experience with regular cell phones and Palm Pilots, but not Pocket PC. That being said, this is easily the best implementation of PDA/phone that I,ve used. I,ll give any prospective buyers a mini-review/commentary, and some of the strong/weak points as I,ve evidenced.

The phone is beautiful. Although not as well-built as a RAZR phone, it is tremendous. Fits in the same Eva "pouch" I used to keep my V600 in, although it sticks out the top a bit. Old Moto chargers will not work with the A780 because of the tip. It comes with a desk charger or you can charge via the USB cable to your computer. Additionally if you want a cigarette lighter adapter, I think you can buy the one for the RAZR phone - they utilize the same tip (not sure).

Call volume is great via either earpiece (flip open or closed) or via bluetooth headset (I use Moto HS820 and Jabra 250 and both work well). MP3 ringers (supplied by me) are harder to hear than the A780-supplied MIDI ringers. There doesn,t appear to be any vibrate-and-ring at the same time functionality - either "vibrate and soft ring" or "vibrate and loud ring". Also the speakerphone is very hard to hear if there is noise around you. There are battery-indicator issues with my phone - the home screen randomly will show a decrease in battery (from 100% to 0% during a call) for no apparent reason, but if I click on the green "phone status" bar and go to it,s properties, the battery may still show fully charged. Oh well. I used the phone yesterday for 16 hours with medium phone and EDGE usage and BT enabled, and the phone did not die - all the while the home screen indicator showing 0% battery left. My recommendation is to carry two batteries, even though they seem to be lasting rather well. I had to charge my V600 every day, and so far this seems to be no different. It uses the same batts as the V600 (part# SYN5683).

The included email app is wonderful. You can accept attachments up to 1MB in size, and if they are supported (PDF, DOC, PPT, XLS, etc.), will open via the included viewer. This works well. The Opera browser works well with most WAP sites (it,s very fast), but I am having difficulty with Cingular,s WAP deck - not sure if this is a "certificate" issue or not. Am working on it. I added on the Reqwireless WebViewer browser, and it is good too, but it is not opening any https:// websites. So I,m having a few browser issues, but I,m sure they are workable. I connected the A780 to my laptop via USB and BT (using Mobile Phone Tools, make sure you have the latest version), no problems. Via Cingular,s EDGE service, am getting an average of 115 kilobits per second - about double of a regular landline modem. It tested as low as 95 kb/sec. and as high as 160 kb/sec.

I synchronized with Outlook and no problems there either. A780 does a great job with "recurring" appointments - something that Moto phones has had a problem with in the past.

There is an issue with available apps for this phone. I have used some Vxxx java apps with success. Some install and work well, and allow you to use the touch screen for input. The ones that don,t let you use the touch screen for input are useless, because while using the touch screen for an application, there is no keypad. You can simply move your backed up .jad and .jar files to the phone (via USB or BT) and install them from the phone, either to the phone or the transflash card. After installation it will delete the .jad file. There is a Task Manager on the phone so if any app gets "hung up" just go to the task manager and "end" task. Most of the "games" are not working, but most of the "apps" (like Travel Buddy and Merriam Webster,s dictionary) work perfectly.

If you keep your contacts on the phone, you can store multiple phone numbers, email address, etc. per entry - a big problem for Moto phones utilizing Moto software. If you keep your contacts on the SIM, you cannot do this (stuck with one number per name). If you try and copy contacts from phone to SIM, the phone will ask you which number you want to copy to SIM. When searching for contacts with the flip open, click on find and start entering letters until it finds your contact. When searching for contacts with the flip closed, as soon as you start entering numbers it will bring up potential matching contacts - for example entering "564" on the phone brought up Dave JOHnson and JOHn Jones and Ted KNIght - it matches up the letters on the "564" keys with any contacts with those letters in their name sequentially. Pretty neat! In the case you,re not looking for a contact and are just dialing a number, then just continue to dial and press send.

Camera is decent - pictures are decent - not the best camera phone. Not the greatest, but they sure are BIG!! Video mode is nice but again, the quality suffers a bit. They have made the camera lens for this phone flush with the back of the phone - no "recessed" lens like with the V600, so if you don,t take care of it, it will definitely get scratched. Be careful with laying the A780 on it,s back because that is exactly how it will get damaged. That, and trying to put the stylus back in the phone incorrectly.

Entering messages with the flip opened can be done via handwriting or a mini-keyboard that pops up on the screen. I use these methods strictly for email and calendar functions. Both work well. The handwriting works remarkably well. There are two places to enter characters, and you can enter a letter in the first place, then enter a letter in the second place, while the A780 is recognizing the first character. Then go back to the first place while the A780 is recognizing the character entered in the second place, and so on. Once you get used to it, it works well and is very fast. With the flip closed, entering SMS is done via good ol, T9 tapping. It works great as well, and is the easier way to text.

I have not even mentioned voice command, which works amazing right out of the box. Imagine checking new messages, searching for contacts and dialing via voice command? All works, and works very well, no voice training required. It,s a bit hard to hear the voice commands repeated by the A780 (same speakerphone issue mentioned earlier). I,m using it quite a bit while driving, to call people. You can also get a "text-to-speech" readout of messages, but I have not figured out how to do this yet.

That,s all I can think of right now. If I can get the browser problems fixed, it will be the closest thing to a perfect GSM Quad-Band PDA/phone implementation that I have seen. Only thing missing is Wi-Fi. If anyone has any questions - feel free to ask and I will try to answer. Sorry this was so long and opinionated.

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