With Audiovox's CDM-8600, Verizon continues to try to inject a little more style into its lineup of handset offerings. Coming on the heels of the attractive , the 8600 will appeal to a broad audience seeking a feature-rich phone at a moderate price ($109 with a one-year contract). Yet as sexy as this mobile is on the surface, it has a few design blemishes that some users might find irksome.
The slick Audiovox 8600 is the type of phone you whip out in public just so that everyone can see it. Though stylish enough for the youth market, it wouldn't look out of place in a boardroom, with its brushed-silver design and exterior porthole display. Measuring a mere 3.3 by 1.6 by 0.9 inches with the cover closed and weighing a svelte 3.2 ounces, it somewhat resembles the. It has an overall sturdy feel, and the cover snaps shut solidly, but the antenna is fragile and seems prone to breakage.
The internal 65,000-color, nine-line display is relatively sharp--a welcome change from the poorly lit screen on the. An added bonus is the exterior monochrome LCD, which shows the date, the time, the signal strength, battery life, and caller ID (where available). On the side of the phone is a volume control that doubles as a page-up/down button.
Such style includes compromises. The text size is a bit small, and while menu navigation is fairly simple, the 8600 almost suffers from too many buttons. Backing out of menus is not always intuitive, as some pages require a different exit key than others. On the plus side, a four-way navigation toggle gives one-touch access to messaging, the phone book, and Web browsing; a dedicated key activates the speakerphone; and there is an OK button. The blue-backlit keypad itself is a bit cramped, and the buttons lay flat on the unit. The menu buttons are also small, so it's easy to strike the wrong key, and the backlight is dim.
The 8600 offers a decent, if not impressive, feature set. You get a built-in speakerphone, TTD and TTY support for the hearing-impaired, a 300-number phone book with easy ways to save new numbers, bilingual menus (English and Spanish), EMS and SMS messaging, and voice-activated and speed dialing.
Additionally, there's a personal organizer, a calculator, a stopwatch, and a nifty world clock. A Web browser via Verizon's Express (high-speed 1xRTT) network provides access to e-mail, news, sports, and entertainment. Initial access is straightforward, but navigating through the browser takes some acclimation, again due to the multiple navigation buttons. With a USB or serial cable (sold separately), the 8600 also works with Verizon's Mobile Office Kit accessory. There's no additional fee for Mobile Office, but calls count toward your monthly minutes.