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When Sprint merged with Nextel almost three years ago, there were concerns with how Sprint would integrate its CDMA network with Nextel's iDEN network, and how the two companies would coordinate their respective push-to-talk services. A new push-to-talk technology was developed by Qualcomm, called QChat, to help that process along. QChat is a CDMA upgrade to iDEN, and allows interoperability between CDMA phones and the iDEN network. Three years later and we finally see the first QChat phones to hit the market, in the form of the Sanyo Pro Series--the Pro-200 and the Pro-700. Even though both phones are CDMA handsets to be used via the Sprint network, they are compatible with Nextel Direct Connect.
The Pro-200 and the Pro-700 have essentially the same features, with different designs. The Pro-700 is the bulkier of the two, because it is clad in a rugged exterior built to military standards. Aside from push-to-palk capabilities, the Pro-700 has Bluetooth, built-in GPS, a speakerphone, and EV-DO Rev. A. The Pro-700 is definitely built to withstand the elements, and is slightly more expensive than the Pro-200 at $69.99 with a new two-year service agreement.
The key difference between the Pro-200 and the Pro-700 is in design. The Pro-700 is clad in a rubberized shell and is definitely ruggedized for the great outdoors. It's built to military standards, meaning it will withstand dust, shock, and vibration. However, it's not water resistant. Measuring 4 inches long by 1.8 inches wide by 0.8 inch thick, the Pro-700 is only a slightly bigger than the Pro-200, and weighs a bit more at 3.8 ounces. Thanks to the rubber exterior, the Pro-700 has a very nice feel in the hand, with a good solid grip. Unlike the Pro-200, the Pro-700 is clad in almost all black, except for a silver chrome border around the external display.
Similar to the Pro-200, the Pro-700 has a 1.5-inch monochrome external display that shows the date, time, battery life, signal strength, and caller ID. Backlight time and font size are adjustable. The speaker grille sits underneath that. Above the external display is a speakerphone microphone, which is only activated in speakerphone mode. The volume rocker and push-to-talk button is on the left spine while the right is home to a headset jack, a Side Call key, and a Side End key. The Side Call key lets you make calls with the phone closed, plus it toggles the push-to-talk speaker on or off. The Side End key can end a call, and it also brings up the recent call history when in standby mode.
Just like the Pro-200, the Pro-700 has a lackluster 1.9-inch 65,000 color display. You can adjust the backlight time, the background, the animation for outgoing calls, the color of the screen for incoming calls, the contrast, and font size.
Underneath the display is quite a large navigation array. It consists of two soft keys, a dedicated new text message button, a four-way toggle with a middle Menu/OK key, a dedicated Web browser key, and a Back key. The toggle also doubles as a shortcut to the messaging menu, the My Content folder, the recent Direct Connects/Push to talk history, and the calendar. Under that are the Talk and End/Power keys, plus a speakerphone key. The keys are a bit more rubberized than the Pro-200, and they are easy to dial and text, thanks to how well spaced apart they are.
Editor's note: The features on the Pro-700 are the same as on the Pro-200, so this section is identical to the Pro-200 review.
The Sanyo Pro-700's big feature is that it utilizes QChat for push-to-talk communications, but it has other smaller features as well. For starters, it has a 600-entry phone book, with room in each entry for seven numbers, an e-mail address, a URL, a physical address, and a memo. You can also add them to caller groups or Direct Connect groups, or pair them one of 26 polyphonic ringtones or one of four vibrating patterns. You can add an image for picture caller ID, but bear in mind that the Pro-200 doesn't have a camera, and the external screen won't support it. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, a speakerphone, text and multimedia messaging, a calendar, an alarm clock, a stopwatch, a countdown clock, a world clock, and a calculator. Also, the Pro-700 steps it up a notch from other push-to-talk phones with a very fast EV-DO Rev. A connection (which it uses to run QChat), a wireless Web browser, instant messaging, e-mail, Bluetooth, voice dialing, and built-in GPS.
Of course, the reason to get the Pro-700 is its compatibility with Nextel's Direct Connect push-to-talk network. You have the capability to Group Connect, which lets you chat with up to 20 other Direct Connect users at the same time. You also have the option to create a customized caller group called Team DC, which allows nationwide group calling with other Direct Connect users. You'll have to go online to Sprint's Web site to set up your own Team DC. Sprint claims that Team DC is especially useful for small companies who want to keep in touch with all members of the group. However, as of this writing, Group Connect and Team DC are only available with Sprint phones, and not Nextel handsets. Sprint hopes to upgrade these features in the future.
You can personalize the Pro-700 with a choice of wallpaper, graphics, screensavers, and alert tones. You can always download more options via the wireless Web browser as well. Games include demo versions of Midnight Pool, Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris, Tower Bloxx, and World Series of Poker, and you can download more via the browser as well.
We tested the Sanyo Pro-700 in San Francisco using the Sprint service. Call quality was very good--callers came through loud and clear, and they heard us with great clarity as well. They did report some echo while we were on speakerphone, but that is to be expected. We also tested the Direct Connect service with the Pro-200, and that worked out great--sound quality is similar to that of regular calls.
Even though the Pro-700 is saddled with a WAP 2.0 wireless Web browser, the surfing was fast thanks to EV-DO Rev. A. Mobile Web pages loaded in seconds, and downloads took a few seconds as well.
The Pro-700 has a rated battery life of 5 hours talk time and 10 days of standby time. Our tests revealed a talk time of 5 hours and 23 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Pro-700 has a SAR rating of 1.24 watts per kilogram.