Editors' note: At the time of this writing, the FCC has not certified the Travelocity Travel Phone. Also, the design of the final product might vary slightly.
The dual-SIM-card phone is hardly a new concept, but only in the past year have these phones become widely available in the United States. You can't get them with a carrier--and we doubt that would ever happen--though unlocked models like the, , and the are available from Houston-based importer Beyond E-Tech.
The company' latest handset, the Travelocity Travel Phone, doesn't assume the "Duet" name, but it might as well. The ability to use two SIM card slots is the only highlight on an otherwise uninspiring handset. Call quality is fine, but like the W002, the Travel Phone is a complete rip-off of an existing handset. And we're miffed why the manufacturer misstates the camera resolution on the phone's exterior. The Travelocity Phone, aka the Beyond E-Tech K250, is fairly priced at $179 unlocked. It comes with a SIM with both U.K. and U.S. numbers and airtime for each.
As we said in our review of the Duet W002, emulating and building on another's successes is one thing, but it's quite another to offer no ideas of your own. Indeed, the Travel Phone resembles a combination of a few Sony Ericsson Walkman models, most notably the . The Travel Phone's slider design, curved ends, and navigation array are all familiar touches, though it doesn't look quite as polished as the Sony Ericsson device. The handset even has a Walkman-like logo behind the battery cover. Really, what's the point?
The black-and-silver Travel Phone measures 4.37 inches long by 1.96 inches wide by 0.66 inch deep and weighs 0.35 ounce. Though it's almost the same size as the W995a, it feels somewhat wispier in the hand. On the upside, the slider mechanism is relatively sturdy, and the Travel Phone's trim profile is great for, well, traveling.
The Travel Phone's 2.8-inch display is bigger than the W995a's, but it has a lower resolution with support for just 65,000 colors (the Sony Ericsson phone offers 16.7 million hues). Colors and graphics are presentable, though hardly eye-popping. Click through to the main menu, however, and you'll see that main menu icons are pure Sony Ericsson. Even without the accompanying animations, the similarities are just as striking as they were between the Duet W002 and the iPhone. Customization options are limited to the wallpaper, display brightness, and backlighting time.
The navigation array is relatively user-friendly thanks to the spacious layout and raised keys. You'll find a four-way toggle (it doubles as a shortcut to four user-defined features), a central OK button, two soft keys, a talk button for each SIM card, and a shortcut to the useless TV feature (more on that later). The flush keypad buttons are cramped and they have a rather cheap feel. We didn't have any serious issues when dialing or texting, but it's certainly not the most comfortable keypad around. Also, the numbers and letters on the backlit keys are tiny.
We don't like that the Mini-USB port on the Travel Phone's top end accommodates both the charger/syncing cable and the wired headset. Not only does that limit you from using your own headset without an adapter, but also you can use only one peripheral at a time. The dedicated power control is nearby, and the volume control and a camera shutter rest on the right side. On the Travel Phone's back side are the camera lens, flash, and speaker; the memory card slot is located inconveniently behind the battery.
The Travel Phone's included SIM card comes with $29 in calling credit for the U.K. number with the option to add more. It also has a U.S. number on the same SIM with 2 hours of calling credit. The U.K. number is convenient when traveling in Western Europe, but you can buy a prepaid SIM with a local number for other countries. And, of course, you can keep your U.S. SIM card in the phone the whole time for receiving calls to your regular home number.
Travelocity's service provider, Cellular Abroad, charges between 90 cents and $3 per minute for outgoing calls. You get free incoming calls for up to 83 countries--the list ranges from the France to Turkmenistan--but in other nations you'll pay for both incoming and outgoing communication. See Travelocity's Web site for a rate calculator and more details.
On the whole, Travelocity's rates are fair, but we don't like that there's a surcharge for calling other cell phones (25 cents per minute) and for incoming calls to the provided U.S. number (also 25 cents per minute). Incoming text messages are free, but outgoing texts are 60 cents each. Travelocity offers a voice mail account attached to the U.K. number--you'll pay to check your messages--and will keep your account valid as long as you add calling credit every 12 months.