RAVE: Ericsson’s t68

Tech review time, and it’s actually a Rave. I’m a phone-addict. I can admit this – it’s also part of what I do for a living, so it gets an addiction that gets feed well. Over the last year I’ve have a Nokia 8290, Motorola P280, Samsung Q-105 and a Ericsson t68. I’ve had many others – the beauty of having VoiceStream as a carrier is the GSM portability of the SIM chip. I take my lil’SIM chip, plop it into a new phone and my phone number (as well as contacts and other settings) go with me. I can even take the chip to Europe or Asia and use their phones because most of the world is GSM based – in the states we’re 1900 band, while the world 900/1800 so the phones aren’t always 100% capable of ocean jumping but the numbers are.

I loved the Nokia. Awesome phone. Gripes? No GPRS (which VoiceStream has everywhere now) and no WAP browser. Not too bad b/c everything else about the phone rocks. The Motorola P280 was OK – Triband, so a world phone and WAP browser but… well, Motorola’s menuing is getting better. It sucks less, more aptly put. There are a few early Mot phones that you have to know to press *22 to add a new contact; *21 was redial if in an alternate universe… so they’re learning and evolving, so that’s good – they made dependable hardware too so that’s a bonus… the only other gotcha is the fact that Vibe/Ring will first vibe then ring – not too intuitive that. The Samsung Q-105 was a good lil phone. Dual band for 900/1900 GSM so still a world phone, and browser and GPRS… just had no pop to it. It also had the vibe-first-then-ring thingy.

For the last six months I’ve been eagerly awaiting the Nokia 8390 – it’s the same phone as the 8290, more or less, but has GPRS and a WAP browser. Small, etc., it’s a good fit. Then I met the Ericsson t68. These aren’t in the states, really – I ordered mine from Yahoo! Shopping and it from a guy on Long Island – I’m assuming he’s getting them from England or Hong Kong, or somewhere overseas. The phone is just amazing. Same size as the 8290/8390, but it’s TriBand and GPRS and with a colour screen. No lie – it can show regular images with good quality. It also vibrates while ringing – a nice touch. My gripes here? Yes, I have two but they pluses more than outweigh them – at least until there’s another phone to compete :) The price – at $400 it’s hard to swallow. Even though it can replace a PDA, it doesn’t replace a PDA, and it’s still just a phone – but who cares about the price? That’s a necessary evil. The other is Ericsson’s ongoing battle for the contact list. All of the other phones I’ve used will first pull the contact right off the SIM and dial it. No need to import/export, no need to worry about losing contacts and whatever contacts you add, they go right to the SIM. Not Ericsson: their motto is “import from SIM and if you dare change phones, export to SIM”. The problem with this is that you can have an extra bunch of new contacts and if you forget to export them, they stay on the phone only. Also, because Ericsson allows you to have multiple numbers per contact, they get stored out as multiple SIM entries – if you aren’t expecting that, it’s a bit daft. Having said that, I will also repeat it: the phone kicks ass. Easily one of the best phones on the market. As this came from a non-VoiceStream shop, it was “uncrippled” – I got to add my own GPRS and GSM settings for browsing. VoiceStream has the annoying habit of “locking” the phones to only use their settings which is great for the US phones but horrific for international travelers. Also, if you ARE interested in this phone, and don’t want to play with the overseas bit, the official rumour is that VoiceStream will carry the successor to the t68, the SonyEricsson t68i (which has a new supported SMS format and a new face) sometime in the 2nd quarter (which usually means June 28).

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