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Product Review - Sprint's Power Vision MM-A920 by Samsung
Posted: 11-Jun-2006 [Source: MTN]

[Sprint's MM-A920 EV-DO handset is a fun phone with all the important functions plus access to Sprint's Music Store, Sprint TV and On Demand.]

MTN has been checking out the EV-DO Sprint Power Vision Phone, Samsung's A920 that Sprint launched late last year along with the MM-A900, also by Samsung.

To begin with, the A920 is a snappy looking handset. It has a good ergonomic fit and weighs in at 3.88 ounces. Samsung has packed a lot of functionality into this sweet little phone. The main display size is 176 x 220 Pixels, 262K TFT Color while the external display size is 128 x 96 Pixels, 65K STN Color. The internal screen's size needs some getting used to if you generally watch TV and DVD's on your home theater system However, watching TV in the palm of your hand does have some appeal especially if you're riding in a car with not much else to do. The video and audio capabilities are more for info and entertainment away from your home or office anyway. On a recent road trip, I frequently checked out news headlines along with some various news clips that grabbed my attention. I liked that EV-DO kept me connected easily and quickly to all the news and information I wanted as well as emails--including photo and video emails.

Built-in media player: The merging of 3G and entertainment

Here's where next-generation functionality really gets exciting. Being EV-DO enabled, the A920 is like having a mini-TV in your hand. Sprint TV offers a variety of audio or video channels depending on your choice of plan--sort of like basic cable to premium cable offerings. Plus, you have the option of buying individual channels offering unlimited access for a monthly subscription fee.

Info about multimedia. First, if you're viewing a video or audio clip, all incoming calls revert to voice mail. Multimedia clips can only be accessed while you are on the Nationwide Sprint PCS Network--not in roaming. Also, not all videos are streamed "live." Some content providers do stream live content but most offer prerecorded video and audio clips that are refreshed throughout the day.

Music

The MM-A920 features an embedded MP3 player and is Sprint PCS VisionMusic Store-compatible providing over-the-air downloads of high-quality full digital songs. The external music control keys offer easy access to your favorite selections. The A920 comes with a stereo headset and has dual stereo-speakers and a SanDisk 32MB micro SD/TransFlash card expandable to 512MB. The sound out of the handset speakers is really quite impressive.

How to access music -- Use the menu key and then highlight the Music icon (the red eighth note). That takes you to the Sprint Music Store. Once there, you can choose Store or Player depending on whether you want to preview or purchase new music or go to your play list. It's fun to browse around the Store or preview new music. If you chose Play, the list of folders is available for selection. Once you select a song Sprint has a nice display including the name of the song, artist, length of song and the photo from the CD. There is also a time bar and back and forward options.

Gaming

Gaming is improved with faster download speeds and improved screen resolution and color and the A920 has 3D graphics support. I downloaded the new Mission Impossible game for my nine-year old grandson who was along for the ride. He's a video game aficionado for his age, but his lack of experience on a small handset had him handing me back the phone in a few minutes...hmmm.

Bluetooth

This handset also offers Bluetooth connectivity. Several weeks ago, I spent several hours waiting in a medical outpatient office and was really pleased with the opportunity to continue my work at broadband speeds with no interruption in service, nice ease of use and plenty of battery power. With my notebook and the A920, I was able to continue my work uninterrupted. The EV-DO service has been very impressive so far, with super download speeds. It really does give a feeling of ubiquitous connectivity. If you unfortunately don't have a Bluetooth-enabled notebook, the A920 can be used as a cabled modem -- software sold separately. Unfortunately, high latency has always been an issue with mobile data services, and it looks like EV-DO did not solve that problem.

Calling

The A920 has all the calling options to make sending and receiving calls easy including international calling. We ran it through its messaging capabilities including photo taking and messaging to evaluate ease of use and "need" of use. If a handset has all the calling features that make the important people in our life a push of a button or two away--chances increase that the other phone's features will eventually find value as well, even for those of us in the demographics that researchers keep saying "don't use them."

Besides the extra stuff, the MM-A920 has VoiceSignal -- voice-activation dialing to speak a phone number of a contact name, or use voice commands to launch applications or dictate text messages.

Messaging:

Once you've got your contacts list set up you're also good to go with text messaging. Just hit messaging and your contacts list and scroll to the name or number, hit OK and you're ready to enter text. When you receive a message you can have your phone notify you by playing an audible alert. Also, you can assign and send a customized signature. The A920 has simple, standard options including emoticons and preset messages -- so far so good.

Voice SMS Messaging -- This function allows you to send and receive voice messages up to two minutes in length. First you need to register the phone to receive Voice SMS messages. To record, select menu -- messaging -- send message -- voice SMS. Next enter the recipient's mobile number or email or select the recipient from your Contacts Entry. Press Next and start recording after the beep. Press Done and Press Send. When you receive a Voice message, a pop-up notification automatically appears on the display. You can also easily reply to a Voice SMS message by pressing Reply, record and then press Send.

The Scheduler is also designed for ease of use and can be turned into a tool that offers good organizational support for busy lives. Standard features.

This phone allows use of a TransFLASH card for additional memory for enabling image, music and voice data to be exchanged among SD-compatible devices. The A920 comes equipped with a SanDisk 32 MB card and a TransFLASH SD adapter.

Picture taking:

The camera and video options are simple and quick to use and send and transfer both pics and video clips in surprisingly good resolution for viewing on a PC or notebook. The 1.3 mega pixel camera offers a flash, self-timer, fun frames, color tones, brightness and white balance controls. You can select resolution, quality, shutter sound, or view mode. The camcorder records 30 seconds of video. Pics and video can be saved in the phone or on the memory card. Resolution settings include 1280x960, 800x600, 640x480 or 320x240. Zoom is not available when the resolution is set to 1280x960. Otherwise you can zoom up to five levels. Since this phone operates in EV-DO, I find I only use the high res setting since both pics and video transfer quickly and are more fun to look at on my PC. I was particularly surprised at how well a video recorded and transferred via email to my notebook of an evening swim video I took of my grandson. The sound picked up well and was very enjoyable and a pleasant surprise considering the size of the speakers.

The A920 can print pics using PictBridge technology. A USB cable connects the phone and a printer supporting PictBridge technology for easy transfer and printing of photos.

Using Bluetooth: What can you do with Bluetooth and the A920? Connect to headphones, use hands-free in your vehicle by connecting to a Bluetooth-enabled car kit, connect a PC or PDA to a network, or connect to your PictBridge photo printer.

The A920 is a great phone incorporating all the fun features as well as the standard calling features we all know and love. It looks great and operates easily. Now that everyone is getting up on the learning curve in relation to camera phones, next generation applications and functions are capturing more attention. However, it seems apparent that pricing will keep uptake of these new services in low demand.

This phone is currently free after rebates with a new Sprint PCS account.

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