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If you want to have a Next G mobile phone without all the bells and whistles, the new EasyTouch might be just the thing. We take a look at this new phone created by ZTE for Telstra and see whether it is as easy to use as it claims to be.


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Phones that promise a lot of features also have this problem of confusing users with unnecessary buttons, icons, and sub-menus. And with mobile services like video streaming, Internet surfing, and even Instant Messaging, it can cause undue stress to a user sometimes, especially when there is nobody around to teach them how to use it. The new EasyTouch is one of those rare handsets that as minimal buttons and will make almost all the Telstra services available with the press of a button.

The Telstra EasyTouch is a clamshell-phone that is made out of hard plastic but manages to have a sense of ‘style’ with its shiny front. The exterior reminded us of the Motorola KRZR / RAZR2, with the unit sporting an external screen, touch keys (Previous, Play/Pause, and Next), and a camera up front. The left side of the unit hosts the Volume key and proprietary USB port, while users can find a microSD card slot (T-Flash) and Camera key on its right.

 


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Flipping the phone reveals the keypad, secondary camera (for video calls), and two-inch screen.  The keypad is ‘divided’ into three sections as it sports two tones of colour: black and silver. The number keys are at the bottom part of the keypad, three hotkeys (Video Call Key, My Place Key, and 1234 Key) are situated at the middle, while the Arrow keys, OK key, Left select, Right select, Back key, Clear key, Call key, and End/Power key are found at the top section. While this design may be unappealing to some, this division may be useful to a certain extent, especially when navigating through the phone’s menu.

Performance:

Upon switching on the phone, users will immediately notice several icons on the Home screen. The latest headlines (we were able to view 14 different headlines) are constantly flashed on top of the screen and its content can be previewed by highlighting the bar (pressing up). Users can then connect to the Internet and view the whole article by pressing the OK button or the Left Select Key (More) in the preview screen.

Also found on the Home screen are five menu shortcuts that changes depending on the Theme being used. By default (Australia), users will have Foxtel, Yellow Search, Messaging, Email, and BigPond icons on the menu shortcuts. But as soon as a user changes the phone’s theme (e.g. Entertainment), the icons change to Foxtel, Whereis, Messaging, Music, and BigPond.

 


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The main menu consists of various sub-menus (Shortcuts, My Place, Tools, Recent Calls, Messages, Games, Settings, Contacts, Internet, Camera, Multimedia, and Themes) that help segregate the various functions present. Besides being able to check messages, adjust phone settings, and view contacts, the phone is also capable of connecting to the Internet with its HSDPA capabilities. And while its download and upload speeds cannot be compared to other Telstra handsets in the market, it is still good to know that the EasyTouch was able to download e-mails and load ‘heavy’ websites in seconds.

The Foxtel service ran smoothly, with minimal buffering time during our tests. Users can rotate the streamed clip by pressing the asterisk button, while pressing the number three (3) brings it to its full screen mode.

The photos we took (both indoors and outdoors) using the phone’s 2 mega pixel camera were good enough to be used for small prints. Users can only adjust the camera’s Brightness, Contrast, Effect (Black and White or Sepia), and Shutter sound. There are no other advanced options like ISO settings and white balancing, but nevertheless, we had a good experience with the EasyTouch’s camera.

The phone also has a built-in MP3 player and can handle more than 2GB’s worth of data with its expandable microSD card slot. Users may be able to navigate through the songs by pressing the multimedia buttons outside the unit, which lessens the hassle of opening the phone should one wants to change the music being played.

 

Finally, Telstra claims that the unit has a continuous idle time of up to 200 hours, with a continuous talk time of up to 180 minutes. With a few hours of continuous Foxtel viewing and minimal text and calls to our contacts, we were able to get a little more than four days before having to charge the unit for three hours.

Conclusion:

The new Telstra EasyTouch does not strive to be the next ‘it’ phone – it just presents itself as a clamshell that can play music, stream videos, and take pictures. And with features like headline display, menu shortcuts, and 1234 hotkey, ZTE and Telstra is definitely paving the way to easier and hassle-free mobile phones usage.

Product Specifications:

Handset Standards: WCDMA 850MHz, 2100 MHz with HSDPA data, 900MHz GSM, 1800MHz GSM and 1900 MHz GM with UMTS

Dimensions: 98.5 x 50 x 18 mm

Weight: 105g

Product Features: UIONE, MP4 video, MP3 audio, 2.0/0.3 mega pixel camera, Video Phone, USB, MIDP 2.0 JAVA, 225MHz Processor, 2.2 (Main) 1.2 (Outside) inch LCD 262K Colour screen, MMS Video and Picture, E-mail, Calendar, Speakerphone, Voice Recorder, Bluetooth, TFlash up to 2GB, CTM

Battery: 830mA hours, Lithium ion

Continuous Idle Time: Up to 200 hours

Continuous Talk Time: 180 minutes on GSM network and WCDMA network, Video call less than 70 minutes

Charging Time: 3 hours

Battery Life: Approximately 400 charge cycles

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Telstra EasyTouch | $499 |  | www.telstra.com

For: Slim form factor; Ease of use; Packed with features; Accessible hotkeys
Against: Look and feel may not suit some potential buyers
Conclusion: An excellent entry-level LCD TV for those who want to experience high definition.

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