But the Brigade isn't all work and no play; it also comes with Verizon's full suite of multimedia and broadband services. It has EV-DO Rev. A, so you get access to Verizon's V Cast Video and V Cast Music with Rhapsody. The latter lets you download songs over the air for $1.99 per track, which also includes a simultaneous download to the PC. Appropriately, the Brigade comes with a music player as well. The interface is not quite as polished as we would like, since it's so tied with the V Cast Music interface. Features of the music player include the ability to set songs on repeat and shuffle, plus you can create and edit playlists on the fly. You can load your own songs to the Brigade via a microSD card (up to 16GB); the player supports MP3, WMA, and unprotected AAC and AAC+ file formats.
The Brigade has quite an advanced 3.2-megapixel camera. It can take pictures in five resolutions (2,048x1,536 pixels; 2,048x1,232 pixels; 1,600x1,200 pixels; 1,280x960 pixels; and 640x480 pixels), and you can also choose from six Best Shot modes (Person, Scenery, Night View, Sepia, Black and White, and Negative) to get the right shot. Other settings include a macro mode, a flash, white-balance presets, a self-timer, multishot mode, autofocus, brightness, and the shutter sound. You can also toggle the display timeout. We like that you can easily access many of these camera settings just by pressing a few shortcut keys on the keyboard.
Photo quality was pretty good, but if we did not use flash, the images would appear a tad overcast with a slight orange tinge. Flash does a good job at brightening up most photos, though, so that's good enough for us. The built-in video camera can record videos in 320x240-pixel resolution in either 60 seconds for MMS or up to 60 minutes, if there's available storage. The settings are similar to that of the still camera.
Just like other phones, you can customize the Brigade with a variety of wallpaper, themes, and ringtones. You can get more from Verizon via the wireless Web browser. The Brigade doesn't come with any games, but you can buy them via the browser as well.
We tested the Casio G'zOne Brigade in San Francisco using Verizon Wireless. We were very impressed with the call quality overall. We heard our callers clearly with hardly any static. The same goes for calls via the speakerphone, though the voice quality sounded a little harsher.
On their end, callers said they could hear us quite well, too. The voice quality did seem a little tinny and machine-like, but there was little distortion. Again, voice quality via speakerphone sounded a lot harsher, but we still sounded loud and clear, so we think call quality was good on the whole.
Audio quality was fine for the most part. The speakers don't make for great listening--it sounds quite hollow and thin--but if you use a headset, it sounds pretty good.
The EV-DO Rev. A speeds were impressive. We downloaded a 1.2MB song in just 32 seconds, and we didn't suffer a lot of buffering time when streaming video. The video quality was still pixelated and choppy however.
The Casio G'zOne Brigade has a rated battery life of 6 hours talk time and 3.7 days standby time. The Brigade has a talk time of 6 hours and 55 minutes. According to the FCC, the Brigade has a digital SAR of 0.813 watt per kilogram.