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Sanyo Katana DLX 8500 review: Sanyo Katana DLX 8500

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Thanks to its EV-DO support, the Sanyo Katana DLX has full access to Sprint's mobile broadband network plus an array of 3G services like Sprint's Power Vision. There's also Sprint TV, which offers movie trailers and programming from channels like MTV and Comedy Central. There's also Sprint Movies, which lets you view full-length, pay-per-view movies on your handset. One of our favorite Sprint services is the On Demand service that provides you instant access to localized information, like news, sports, stocks, and weather updates.

As with other Sprint Music phones, the Sanyo Katana DLX's music player is closely tied to Sprint's Music Store. You can simultaneously download songs to your PC and to your phone for only 99 cents. You can also use Sprint's Sync Manager software and USB cable to transfer songs from your computer to the Katana DLX if you wish. Of course, you can also transfer songs directly to the microSD card if you have the correct adapter. The music player interface is similar to that of other Sprint Music phones--songs are automatically grouped by title, artist, and genre, plus you can create your own playlist. The interface is pretty generic, but that also means it's simple to use. There are also repeat and shuffle playback modes. We did wish there were external music player controls, though, since in order to change tracks or pause music, we had to open up the phone to do so.

The Sanyo Katana DLX took pretty good pictures.

Another great update that the Katana DLX has is a 1.3-megapixel camera instead of the VGA camera of its predecessor. Picture quality was pretty good, though low-light photos seemed pretty washed out. You can take pictures in three resolutions (1,280x960, 640x480, 320x240), three quality settings, and five picture modes. Other camera settings include multishot, color tones, fun frames, 12x zoom, brightness, white balance, sharpness, contrast, and three shutter sounds (with a silent option). There's also a camcorder feature. You can record video in two different resolutions (176x144, 128x95), and three quality/length settings (Normal--35 seconds, Fine--25 seconds, and however much the microSD card can hold). You can also turn off the sound and record a silent movie or activate one of three different "cue sounds" (there's also a silent option). Video quality was not that great, with a lot of blurry outlines and washed-out imagery.

Personalization options are pretty good with the Sanyo Katana DLX. You can customize it with a variety of screensavers, graphics, ringtones, and more from Sprint via the wireless Web browser. As for games, the phone comes with a demo of Brain Juice, Ms. Pac-Man, and Tetris, and full versions of Diner Dash and Platinum Sudoku. You can always get more from Sprint as well.

We tested the dual-band, trimode (CDMA 800/1900; AMPS 800) Sanyo Katana DLX in San Francisco using Sprint's service. Call quality was very impressive without the speakerphone--callers could hear us loud and clear, and voices certainly sounded sharp on our end as well. Speakerphone quality, on the other hand, was so-so. While we could hear our callers well, they reported some background noise and heavy echoing. We successfully managed to pair the Sanyo Katana DLX with the Cardo S-2 stereo Bluetooth headset.

Music quality sounded pretty good as well--though sound quality was predictably thin, it didn't sound as tinny as other music phones. Of course, music heard through the headset sounded much better. EV-DO speeds made browsing a dream. Downloading songs took mere seconds, and streaming video loaded quite quickly without much rebuffering. The video quality was a little grainy, but it wasn't unwatchable.

The Sanyo Katana DLX has a rated talk time of 4 hours and a tested talk time of 4 hours, 58 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Sanyo Katana DLX has a digital SAR rating of 1.21 watts per kilogram.

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