The Katana series of phones have changed quite a bit since the original Katana, which was nothing more than a Razr clone with its slim and wide style. Two years and a couple of Katana models later, it appears that Sanyo has decided to go in a very different design direction with this year's crop. The Sanyo Katana LX, for example, has a much more compact look, complete with a smooth reflective surface. However, it was only an entry-level device with not a lot of advanced features. The Sanyo Katana Eclipse, on the other hand, is the Katana with all the bells and whistles. Features include a 1.3-megapixel camera, a MP3 player, EV-DO speeds, stereo Bluetooth, and more. The highlight of the Eclipse, however, is in its dual LED indicators that can set off as many as 40 lighting effects for different functions, so you can dazzle your friends whenever you have an incoming call. The Katana Eclipse is now available for $99 after a two-year service agreement.
With its reflective mirror finish, dual LED indicators, and silver chassis, the Katana Eclipse almost looks like a miniature space ship masquerading as a cell phone. Measuring 3.6 inches long by 1.9 inches wide by 0.7 inch thick, the Eclipse is a slim and compact clamshell with slightly rounded edges and a streamlined yet futuristic look. It's lightweight at 3.4 ounces, and it fits comfortably in the hand as well as in the purse or pocket.
On the front of the Eclipse is a camera lens at the top, followed by a speaker in the form of a thin cutout strip, and then the external display. The 64,000-color 1-inch display is used to view date, time, battery, and signal strength information, as well as caller ID. The display also supports photo caller ID. You can also use it as a self-portrait viewfinder when the phone is closed. When the music player is activated, you can use it to navigate the player and see the currently playing track. You can adjust the display's screensaver, the backlight time, the background color, the animation that appears when you close the phone, the font size, the clock format, the sleep mode timer, and whether you want the next calendar schedule to appear on it.
Underneath the display are three music player controls, which are the two track shuttle keys (rewind and fast-forward) as well as the Play/Pause key in the middle. Pressing the Play/Pause key will activate the music player. Though we appreciate having external music player controls, we did find the keys to be rather small and difficult to press, especially since they are pretty close to the surface of the phone.
To the left and right side of the display are two LED indicators in the form of angled lines. These two LED indicators are used to provide illumination and lighting effects for certain functions. In fact, the Eclipse comes with 40 different lighting effects, and they range from periodic flashing to subtle pulsing glows in all colors of the rainbow. You can have different lighting effects for incoming calls, incoming messages, calendar alarms, active calls, whenever you play music, whenever you press a key on the keypad, and you can assign lighting effects to certain contacts as well. It seems a little gimmicky at first, but we can see its playful appeal for teens or the young at heart who want something flashy to show off to their friends.
On the left spine are the charger jack, the volume rocker, and the dedicated camera key, while the right spine is home to a headset jack and a microSD card slot.
Flip open the phone and you'll find a decent 2.0-inch 65,000-color internal display. It's certainly not the best screen we've seen because of its size and lackluster menu interface, but text looked clean and legible, and images appeared bright as well. You can adjust the screen's backlight time, the contrast, the font size, the clock and calendar format, the sleep mode timer, as well as the animation that appears for outgoing calls and when it's searching for service.
Underneath the display is a navigation array, which consists of two soft keys, a circular toggle with a middle Menu/OK key, a dedicated camera key, and a Back key. The toggle also doubles as shortcuts to four user-defined functions. Below the array are the Talk, speakerphone, and End/Power keys. We didn't quite like the Eclipse's keypad. The navigation keys were all right, but the numeric keypad felt too slippery and flat for our tastes.