Review (May 2009)
By Kevin Nakano
Pantech has introduced several impressive phones over the years and their latest Matrix Pro is no exception. The new Matrix Pro is a clever design that features a dual sliding base, providing access to a QWERTY style keyboard or a numeric keypad for phone use. This tri-mode phone runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Standard. The 2.4-inch display resolution has 240 x 320 resolution with 260k colors. The phone measures 4.2 x 2.0 x 0.9 inches and weighs over 5 ounces with the included Lithium-Ion battery. The build quality is excellent and the keys on both the keyboard and numeric keypad are large enough for practical use. The backlight works well in poorly lit environments. The Matrix Pro has a built-in 2 mega-pixel camera that can also shoot video. The integrated microSD card slot provides an easy way to transfer and store files and supports up to 32 GB in addition to the 45 MB of internal memory. Audio playback through Windows Media Player Mobile 10 supports several formats including MP3, AAC, Real , WAV, and WMA. Other features include a calendar, alarm clock, caller ID, conference calling, call forwarding, call waiting, caller ID, a personal organizer and an address book. Each entry in the 1000+ contact phonebook includes space for up to five phone numbers, with street address, URL, and memo. Text and instant messaging (AOL®, Windows Live and Yahoo!® Messenger) are also available.
The Matrix Pro also includes a voice-guided GPS that gives users turn-by-turn driving directions, along with local business search capability. The GPS feature is available at an additional cost for the service. Media streaming (internet, maps, audio and video) can use up significant amounts of data bandwidth, so users must be aware of this when they set up their phone service plan to avoid unexpected data fees. The phone includes the battery, AC travel charger, and user manual on CD.
While the Matrix Pro works great horizontally when using the QWERTY keyboard for typing messages, the phone can also be extended vertically to provide users access to a standard user-friendly numeric keypad for making phone calls. The sliding design snaps into place with a slight detent, keeping the keyboard and keypad in place. The mechanism is designed to prevent both from being accessed at the same time. The mechanical design is actually very impressive for a consumer product. I found the keypad buttons a little more difficult to use because the surface does not provide the same tactile feel offered in the QWERTY keyboard mode. However, the larger keys help offset this difference. The display looks great with high contrast, but is sometimes difficult to see in direct sunlight. This is a common problem with most phones we have reviewed. The navigation control with a center (OK) button is surrounded by six other buttons. Two soft keys are located closest to the screen. Other buttons include Call, End/Power, Home and End keys. The top left side of the phone has volume up/down buttons and a Quick List/REC key below it. The top right side has the charging slot of the AC adapter with the camera key below. One thing that takes getting used to is the charging slot, which is not easily accessible and requires the user remove the cover each time the phone needs to be connected. It seems to me that eventually this cover will break.
The rounded corners of the Matrix Pro gave it a soft look and an ergonomic feel. This along with the smooth surface made it easy to slide the phone in and out of our pockets. The high capacity 1320 mAH Lithium-Ion battery provides up to 3 hours of talk time and over 10 days of standby mode. We noticed the battery level drop when we used the phone continuously for hours over the course of the day. This could be an issue for those who are heavy users. My BlackBerry 8830 has the same issue as does the Apple iPhone. Unfortunately, these newer, more powerful phones tend to push battery capacity capabilities.
The Matrix Pro also includes a few (demo) games for your entertainment. We especially liked Tetris and Ms. Pac-Man and the ability to download even more at an additional cost. AT&T's Cellular Video, Mobile Music and XM Radio streaming provided extensive real-time content with fairly good quality. It was really cool to be able to watch CNN on the road.
The Pantech Matrix Pro is available for only $99.99 after a two-year service agreement and a $100 mail-in rebate. The no-commitment pricing is $349.99 so taking advantage of the service agreement is attractive.
- Kevin Nakano
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