The Good The UTStarcom CDM-8945 comes equipped for 3G EV-DO networks; it supports Verizon V Cast video and music services; and it has an MP3 player, a TransFlash slot, and a large internal LCD.
The Bad The UTStarcom CDM-8945 lacks Bluetooth and external music controls; it's saddled with a VGA camera and a single mono speaker; the performance is uneven, and the small menu font may require some squinting to read.
The Bottom Line Lacking in features and suffering from shaky performance, the UTStarcom CDM-8945 is a disappointment on multiple levels, but it's mostly a lack of value for the money. For a few dollars less, you can get a more feature-rich EV-DO phone from Verizon.
UTStarcom CDM-8945 (Verizon Wireless)
Ever since Verizon Wireless introduced V Cast Music at this year's CES, it has steadily expanded its lineup of compatible phones from just one model to three (Sprint, which has its own music service, has three music handsets as well). Yet the results of Verizon's efforts have been mixed. While we approved of the and are enjoying the , the UTStarcom CDM-8945 is a strange case. Normally, the CDM-8945 would be considered a workable midlevel phone, but the addition of V Cast Music takes it down a notch. Adding the service only raises expectations that the phone cannot meet, and the result is an unimpressive music phone. It lacks any external music transport controls, it includes only a single external speaker, its camera is just VGA, and it has no Bluetooth or included music-centric accessories. Overall, the CDM-8945 ($179.99, or $129.99 with rebates and a two-year contract) would be a slightly overpriced EV-DO phone for nondiscriminating low-tech users. But it pales in comparison to the Verizon's other clamshell-style music phones. Though the UTStarcom CDM-8945 shares a clamshell form factor with the and the , an obvious design difference separates the CDM-8945 from its music phone brethren: no external music controls. That means you have to open the phone to control the music--a critical design flaw. The CDM-8945 also differs in an equably noticeable but less important way: Its sleek, jet-black exterior is a sharp contrast to the more colorful VX8100 and SCH-A950.
At 3.5 by 1.9 by 0.9 inches and 3.9 ounces, the UTStarcom CDM-8945 is roughly the same size and weight as the LG and Samsung models, and it seems solidly built. Upon closer inspection, however, you'll see that it's slightly shorter and heavier than the SCH-A950 and slightly smaller than the VX8100. Then again, it's not enough to make a difference. The CDM-8945 is the only one of the three handsets with a telescope antenna--the LG has a stub, and the Samsung has none at all. The 1-inch external display supports a bright 65,000 colors and shows the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID (where available). It also functions as a self-portrait viewfinder for the camera lens, which lies just above, along with a small flash.