Pantech Hotshot - red (Verizon Wireless) review:

Pantech Hotshot - red (Verizon Wireless)

The handset's 3.2-megapixel camera features an exposure meter and a settings menu where you can customize your photo options, which include: six white-balance choices (auto, sunny, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, and darkness); a self-timer; a multishot option; five resolution settings that range from 1,600x1,200 to 160x120 pixels; and four color modes (normal, antique, black and white, and negative).

The same white-balance options, color modes, and exposure meter are seen in video recording as well. In addition, you can also customize video quality (choosing between high, medium, and low); recording duration (choosing "for send" lets you record a 30-second video, choosing "to save" enables a 1-minute recording); and video resolution (either 176x144 or 320x240 pixels).

I tested the dual-band (CDMA 800, 1900) Pantech Hotshot in San Francisco using Verizon's services. Call quality was impressive; voices were audible and clear, and the maximum volume level was great. Callers said my voice sounded clear as well, and there were no extraneous noises or static on either end. Putting the call on speaker yielded similar results; voices from calls I made were loud and crisp.

I also tested the device while on the train. When I passed through a tunnel, the person on the other side was not able to hear me for a few seconds, but I did not lose the call. Once I exited the tunnel, I was told I could be heard perfectly again.

Pantech Hotshot call quality sample Listen now:

Verizon's 3G network runs on 1xEV-DO r0 technology, so you shouldn't expect blazing data speeds. Loading the CNET mobile site took an average of 6 seconds, and the full site took about 26 seconds. The New York Times mobile site took 5 seconds on average, and ESPN's loaded in 7 seconds. Keep in mind, however, that the mobile sites that loaded on the handset are not the regular versions you would see on other smartphones. A lot of coding is stripped away, so the site is modified to show only some of the graphics and images.

Watching YouTube wasn't pleasant. Videos can't play the full area of the display. In fact, YouTube videos, as well as recorded video shot on the handset, only occupies about a fifth of the screen.

In our battery drain tests, the Hotshot lasted 6.76 hours. While I used it, it had a solid battery life. Then again, it can't really do much to drain the battery life anyway. I spent most of the day browsing the Web, talking on the phone, texting (which takes extra long since the unresponsive screen makes it that much more frustratingly difficult), and watching tiny videos. At the end of all this, only about one battery notch (out of four) would disappear. Charging the device also took a short amount of time. When I plugged it in as it clung onto its last battery bar, the handset only took about 30 minutes before it gained a full charge. According to FCC radiation tests, the phone has a digital SAR rating of 1.32W/kg.

Given how entry-level the device's specs are, the photo quality is surprisingly decent. Images are a bit grainy, especially when you zoom in on the pictures, and colors definitely don't appear as rich as they do in real life. Overall, however, objects were easy to make out and in focus.

In this indoor shot of the CNET studio, colors appear pretty muted, but objects appear clear.

This photo was taken inside a train, right as it was pulling out of a station. As you can see, there is motion blur in the foreground, but the cars in the back are in focus.

Our studio shot shows darkening around the edges of the white background and dampened colors.

The camera itself, however, is exceedingly slow. After I clicked the shutter, I had to wait for a long time in order for the photo to turn out clear. There would be heavy motion blur if I made any slight movement a few seconds after I clicked the button. Furthermore, changing the exposure meter was difficult because the touch screen is not sensitive, and it took several swipes of my finger to adjust it.

Video recording is below par. As I mentioned previously, the playback frame takes up only a small fraction of the total screen. It didn't pick up noise very well, either; voices blended together and were muddled, and audio would cut in and out for less than a second here and there. Moving objects were heavily pixelated and grainy, and colors appeared washed out in semi-bright light.

The Pantech Hotshot's dual identity doesn't work well in its favor. As a touch-screen "semi-smartphone," it's too slow. Everything lags, from the network, to switching the phone from portrait to landscape, to moving between what it considers apps, to clicking back to the home screen. What's more, the display is unresponsive, making even the most fundamental tasks, like texting, an annoying endeavor. As a basic feature handset with decent call quality, the price is just too high. There are other options out there that will do the same things better, for less money.

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