Manufactured by Toshiba, the Sprint VM4050 (a.k.a. the Audiovox CDM-9950) is one of three videophones offered by Sprint for use on its PCS Vision network. The VM4050 provides a large color display, a built-in still and video camera, and a flash. At $329.99, it's somewhat expensive, but for buyers looking to get in on the video-mail craze, it delivers the goods despite its less than stellar battery performance. If you get the phone for close to $150 with or without service, it's a good deal.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more. Measuring 3.66 by 1.89 by 0.95 inches and weighing 4.09 ounces, the Sprint VM4050 somewhat resembles an earlier Sprint phone, the , in both size and shape. Though it isn't the smallest flip mobile out there, it fits in bigger pockets and feels comfortable in your hand while you're talking. The outside of the phone is attractive, with a brushed-silver color, solid construction, and a hinge mechanism that snaps shut with an audible click. A postage-stamp-size external display shows time, signal strength, battery life, and picture caller ID (where available), and at 65,000 colors, it has a clear and crisp resolution. Unlike those on , the camera lens and the flash on the VM4050 sit just above the screen, so there's little chance of covering the lens with your finger.
|/sc/30734023-2-300-DT1.gif" width="300" height="225" border="0" alt="" />|
Though the phone is on the big side, the external screen is eye candy.
Inside the VM4050 is an outstanding 2.2-inch-diagonal main LCD. Wonderfully vivid and supporting an eye-popping 260,000 colors, it resembles a television screen and is visible in almost any light. The screen's richness also makes the graphical menus a pleasure to navigate with the well-spaced, blue-backlit navigation keys. These include a four-way toggle with an OK button in its center, two soft keys, and a Back button. The raised keypad buttons are also spaced far enough apart to avoid misdials.
The VM4050 offers one-touch access to downloads, messaging, the voice-memo feature, the Internet browser, the phone book, and a separate menu of user-defined shortcuts. Also, just below the rocker are a dedicated speakerphone key and a camera/video button. Two volume keys and an additional camera key are located on the left side of the phone, and a hands-free jack is on the right side. The Sprint VM4050 doesn't skimp on features. It includes 9 polyphonic (48-chord) ring tones, 18 monophonic tones, a vibrate mode, and a 300-name phone book that stores five numbers for each contact. Ring tones and pictures can be assigned to contacts, and the phone book can be organized into caller groups. The handset also has a scheduler, an alarm clock, a countdown timer, a calculator, a WAP 2.0 Internet browser, a duplex speakerphone, voice-activated dialing, text and multimedia messaging, Java (J2ME) support, and the ability to record 15-second voice memos.
|/sc/30734023-2-300-DT2.gif" width="300" height="225" border="0" alt="" />|
Give me a light: The VM4050 has a small flash.
The VM4050's main attraction is the built-in CCD/VGA camera. Intuitive to a fault, the camera offers a wealth of options that rival those on the
The video camera is a blast. It lets you take 15-second clips with sound and attach text or a 10-second voice message. Of course, this is not a high-end video camera, but the quality is adequate for sending those special moments to friends and family. A small flash adds a meager amount of light for both pictures and video, but it's hardly enough to brighten a dark room. You can take still photos (but not video) with the cover closed, and though there is no mirror for self-portraits, a surprisingly clear image shows up on the external display. You can store up to 30 pictures or video clips, and a convenient meter helps you keep track of how much space is left. . You get two quality settings, five brightness levels, four picture effects, four shutter sounds (also a silent option), and two picture resolutions (480x640 and 240x320). You can add a caption and a date/time stamp to each picture and save it for caller ID or as a screensaver. We did have one quibble: While you get 17 Fun Frames and a 2X zoom, you have to lower the resolution to 240x320 to use them, and the results are hardly worth the effort; you're better off staying at the higher resolution.
|/sc/30734023-2-300-SS1.gif" width="300" height="225" border="0" alt="" />|
Picture quality was quite good.
Sending pictures or video required just a few clicks. Sprint's Picture Mail service lets you e-mail digital images and videos or send them directly to other PCS Vision phones. E-mail recipients get an invite that includes your phone number and a link to your file, which is stored on a Sprint server. Using PCS Vision, the VM4050 also can be personalized with a variety of wallpapers and screensavers. Subscribers can surf the Web and download games (none are included), additional wallpapers, screensavers, and polyphonic and animated ring tones. We tested the dual-band, trimode Sprint VM4050 (CDMA 800/1900; AMPS 800) in the New York City area. All in all, it performed admirably, although we noticed a sudden decrease in the handset's volume every now and then. Call reception was clear, and callers had no problem hearing us, despite the roar of city traffic.
The phone did not fare so well in our battery tests. Despite the rated 3.3 hours of talk time, the battery lasted only 2.5 hours. Conversely, while standby time fell 3 hours short of the 10-day rating, that's still a good showing.