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Open up the VI-2300, and things get a little better. The square display (1.13 inches diagonally) supports 65,536 colors but is not especially bright, even though it employs STN (supertwist) technology that is supposed to improve contrast. We especially noticed a difference between the VI-2300's display and the more vivid one on Sanyo's higher-end MM-7400 Ready Link model. You can change the backlighting time and contrast, and while you can also alter the font size, users with vision impairments should take a closer look before buying.
A clean and functional layout includes de rigueur clear-plastic navigation and dial-pad keys that are relatively large and well spaced; however, they're flush with the phone's surface, making operation by feel difficult. Though not exactly haute couture, the lime-green keypad backlighting is bright enough to ease dialing in the dark. Your contacts, the messaging menu, the downloads list, and a user-definable list of menu shortcuts are all instantly accessible from the five-way circular navigation toggle, and there are direct Web, speakerphone, and dedicated Back keys above the dial pad. Other navigation controls consist of two soft keys and a Back button.
The exterior Ready Link push-to-talk and volume-toggle buttons are the same color as the body and nearly flush with the left spine, making them tough to spot and access. The phone lacks the usual exterior speakerphone button found on most Ready Link models but includes a 2.5mm earphone jack.Though it lacks flashy multimedia offerings, the Sanyo VI-2300 is a fully packed cell phone. Its organizational features include a 300-contact phone book; each entry can include seven different numbers (mobile, home, work, fax, other, and "no label"), an e-mail and Web address, and the choice of eight 32-chord polyphonic tones and 8 standard electronic tones. For caller-ID purposes, you can also match a picture with a contact, although you'll have to download images to the phone, since there's no built-in camera, and the images won't appear on the external display. For ease of use, the 1 key cycles through punctuation and symbols, and the star and pound keys are labeled Shift and Space for messaging.
Aside from the aforementioned Ready Link capability, the VI-2300 includes a vibrate mode (which can be separate or combined with ringing), five special Ready Link ring tones, 1xRTT Web surfing, text and multimedia messaging, emergency-911 and GPS location-based-service (LBS) compatibility, voice dialing, 72-second voice-call and memo recording, three-way calling, a calendar, an alarm clock, a calculator, a stopwatch, PC syncing, and a world clock.
The multilevel ring volume can be adjusted using the volume-up and volume-down toggle keys on the spine. By scrolling down, you can toggle through a wide variety of handy sound and alert options. Each choice is accompanied by an indicator icon and a volume meter.
Games, screensavers, and ring tones are available via the Sprint PCS Vision download store, but Jamdat Solitaire Deluxe, Ms. Pac-Man Deluxe, and Tetris Deluxe demos are included on the phone. Oddly, Ready Link calls can't be received while you're playing games, and the phone has to reset the Ready Link capability after you're done playing.We tested the dual-band/trimode Sanyo VI-2300 (CDMA 800/1900; AMPS 800) in Manhattan and while traveling by train and subway in the metro New York area using Sprint's network. There was plenty of volume in both the earpiece and the speakerphone.
While the phone provided plenty of volume, voice quality in the earpiece was tinny, with more of the notorious Sprint echo than usual. Happily, the speakerphone was loud and clear for both standard and Ready Link calls, indistinguishable from the speakerphone on the higher-end Sanyo MM-7400. Reception was always five-bar solid, with nary an interruption in conversation or Web surfing. Ringer volume was exceptionally loud; we heard the ringing even when wearing headphones, and the vibration was exceptionally violent--even titillating--in the right pocket.
While it took a short time to connect to the download store, apps, ring tones, and games such as EA Sports 2005 Tiger Woods PGA Tour ($2.99) took between 30 and 60 seconds to download, process, and save.
The promised 3.25-hour talk time was unexceptional, and we met that time in our test. The rated 13-day standby time was more promising, but we were able to stay away from our charger for a little more than a week. It should be noted that the three-segment battery meter practically skips from two bars to one after only a couple of calls. A full charge requires 3.5 hours--the trade-off for the long standby time. According to the FCC, the VI-2300 has a digital SAR rating of 1.28 watts per kilogram and an analog SAR rating of 1.45 watts per kilogram.