Motorola Slvr review:

Motorola Slvr

There's no flash or self-portrait mirror with the VGA camera.

After seeing the 1.3-megapixel camera on the Motorola Razr V3c, we wanted the Motorola Slvr L7 to come similarly equipped. Unfortunately, the VGA camera takes pictures in just three resolutions: 640x480, 320x240, and 160x120. On the upside, we liked the useful camera options. A meter keeps track of how much storage space is left, and you can switch between the phone and the card storage with three easy clicks. For photo-editing features, you get a choice of six lighting settings, an adjustable brightness control, a 4X zoom, a 5- or 10-second autotimer, and a selection of five shutter sounds, as well as a silent option. The MPEG-4 video recorder takes clips about 30 seconds in length, with sound in two resolutions (176x144 and 128x96), and you can choose a lighting setting. Photos and video were about what you'd expect from a VGA camera: Objects were fuzzy, and colors didn't exactly jump out. When finished with your snapshots and clips, you can send them in a multimedia message or save them to the phone. You can also save your work to the TransFlash card, but you'll probably want to keep that chunk of memory for your music.

The Slvr L7's photos are fine for viewing on a computer, but they're nothing you'd want to print.

You can personalize the Motorola Slvr L7 with a variety of wallpaper, themes, menu styles, color skins, screensavers, and message tones. If you'd like more options or ring tones, you can download them from Cingular. You get three Java (J2ME) games--BlockBreaker Deluxe, Jewel Quest, and Tetris--but you can always download more if you're an avid gamer.

We tested the quad-band Motorola Slvr L7 (GSM 850/900/1800/1900; GPRS) world phone is San Francisco using Cingular's service and had no trouble getting a signal. The fact that the phone supports only GPRS data speeds and not EDGE is a letdown, especially since Cingular is on the verge of introducing its first 3G (UMTS) phones.

Call quality was generally good. We enjoyed clear conversations, with little static and no voice distortion. Callers occasionally could tell we were using a cell phone, but they reported satisfactory audio quality as well. As with the Razr, volume on our end was somewhat low, so callers with hearing impairments should try the Motorola Slvr L7 first. We encountered little interference from other electronic devices. The speakerphone was loud and only occasionally muffled, but it performed admirably overall. Putting the speaker facedown on a table does affect outgoing sound somewhat--callers had trouble hearing us at times--but it's difficult to find an alternative position, as the phone can't rest on its side. We tested the Slvr L7 with the Plantronics Explorer 320 Bluetooth headset and had no problem connecting the two devices. Call quality was clear, but volume on both ends was low. That could be due to the headset, however.

As with the Motorola Rokr, song transfers from iTunes to the Motorola Slvr L7 were agonizingly slow. It took 4.3 minutes to transfer a 43MB playlist, which makes for an average transfer time of just 0.17MB per second--compare that to the iPod Nano's 5.3MB per second. In fact, the overall performance of iTunes was obviously affected whenever we had the Slvr L7 connected. However, the Slvr L7's onboard iTunes performance showed noticeable improvement upon the Rokr's. Navigation between screens was quick if not always smooth, and starting up playlists and scrubbing through tracks had no more delay than your standard MP3 player.

The Motorola Slvr L7's audio performance is top notch for a phone; it compares evenly to the iPod Nano's. All types of music sounded bright, clear, and detailed, and bass response was OK, though not thumping. The 'buds sound fine but may not be comfortable for all users.

The Motorola Slvr L7 has a rated talk time of 6 hours and a promised standby time of 17 days. In our tests, we came away with a very solid 8.5 hours of talk time and a respectable 12 days of standby time. According to FCC radiation tests, the Slvr L7 has a digital SAR rating of 1.34 watts per kilogram.

CNET associate editor Jasmine France contributed to the performance analysis.

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