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Sanyo Taho (Sprint) review: Sanyo Taho (Sprint)

Sanyo Taho (Sprint)

Kent German
Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
5 min read

Sanyo is no stranger to rugged phones, so we weren't surprised when it announced its durable Taho for Sprint. We're still unsure exactly how to pronounce it--is it Tay-ho or Tah-ho?--but the handset offers a serviceable feature set in a design that truly can take some punches. It's not pretty by a long shot, but beauty isn't the point here. Call quality is fine and it's quite affordable at just $99 if you buy it online and sign a new two-year contract.

Sanyo Taho (Sprint)

Sanyo Taho (Sprint)

The Good

The Sanyo Taho has a durable design and easy-to-use controls. The feature set is functional, and call quality was mostly satisfying.

The Bad

The Sanyo Taho has a 2.5mm headset jack. Voice quality was distorted at the higher volume levels, and the speakerphone wasn't the best.

The Bottom Line

The Sanyo Taho gets big points for its rugged and simple design. Voice quality had a few issues, but it should be agreeable for most people.

In an era where slim and sexy dominate cell phone design, the Taho stands tall and proud as a bulky phone with extra padding. It sports a touch plastic skin with extra rubber padding around the edges. The latter gives the phone a firm grip in the hand and ensures that it's certified to military specifications for dust, shock, vibration, extreme temperatures, blowing rain, and a 30-minute dunking in 3.28 feet (1 meter) of water. We subjected it to a bit of torture--put it under a running faucet, submerged it in a vase, and threw it on a concrete floor--but weren't able to make a dent.

At 4 inches long by 2 inches wide by 0.9 inch deep, the Taho is a bulky and heavy (4.7 ounces) device, but that's the price you pay for a tough build. With its large speaker, black and silver face, and small monochrome display, the Taho has a no-frills, industrial feel. Though far from stylish, we think it offers a cool retro appeal. The display shows the time, battery life, and signal strength; a thin light below the screens flashes when you're receiving a call.

The Taho has a solid feel in the hand and it can take a shower.

The Taho's hinge is as sturdy as its shell. You can open and close the flap with one hand, but it snaps firmly into place on either end. Inside you'll find the main display, which measures 2 inches and supports 262,000 colors (320x240 pixels). Though it's smaller than we'd like, the resolution befits a phone of this class. Photos and graphics show up well, and the menu system is easy to use and straightforward.

The navigation array has one of the best designs we've seen in a while. All keys are raised, there's plenty of space between them, and the OK button in the center of the circular toggle has a textured finish. Besides the toggle, which doubles as a shortcut to four user-defined features, you'll find a camera shutter, a Back key, the Talk and End/power controls, and a speakerphone shortcut.

We liked the Taho's keypad and navigation array.

The raised keypad buttons also have a great design. They're spaced far apart so we never had any misdials and we appreciated their rubbery feel. The numbers and letters on the keys are quite large, so we'd recommend the Taho for people with visual impairments.

On the right spine you'll find a voice control shortcut, a volume rocker, and a Micro-USB charger port. The 2.5mm headset jack sits by itself on the right spine, and the camera lens is around back next to the flash. Fortunately, a raised metal border surrounds the camera lens and protects it from any bumps when the phone is resting on a surface. The battery cover is locked securely to protect the battery from any water intrusion, but it's not a problem to remove it. As with most water-resistant phones, you'll need to get under the battery to access the microSD card slot.

Though the exterior of the Taho is unique, its insides are fairly ordinary. Indeed, you'll find a standard midrange set that's functional, if not flashy. The phone book holds 600 contacts with room in each entry for multiple phone numbers, an e-mail address, a URL, a street address, a birthday, a job title and company name, and notes. As always, you can organize contacts into groups and pair them with a photo and one of 37 polyphonic ringtones.

Basic features are just what you'd expect; you'll find text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, a calculator, a voice memo recorder, a countdown timer, a speakerphone, a stopwatch, and a world clock. Higher up in the feature chain, there's stereo Bluetooth, GPS, speaker-independent voice dialing, an airplane mode, limited parental controls, and PC syncing.

The Taho's camera and flash sit on its rear side.

The 2-megapixel camera takes pictures in four resolutions and three quality settings. Other editing options are plentiful. There are four image modes (including night and beach/snow), a 12x zoom, a self-timer, a multishot mode, six color tones, nine frames, and options to adjust the brightness, white balance, sharpness, and contrast.

The Taho has decent photo quality.

The camcorder shoots clips in two resolutions and offers a set of editing options similar to the still camera. There's also a mode to record a silent movie, which is something you don't see often. You're limited to just 30 seconds when recording a clip to send via MMS, but you can shoot up to 15 minutes in standard mode. That time will decrease, however, as you fill up the Taho's 40MB of integrated memory. You also can store content on the microSD card. Though a 1GB card comes in the box, the slot accommodates cards up to 32GB.

The Taho comes with Sprint's Family Locater service and Sprint Navigation. Both features work well enough, though the Taho isn't our ideal GPS device given its small internal display. The handset doesn't come with any games, but you can download a range of titles and other applications from Sprint. Just be aware that some apps will require data use, which can result in additional charges. The WAP 2.0 browser is available for browsing and Web-based POP3 mail. The experience is serviceable, but fairly tedious if you've used a smartphone for even a few hours.

You can personalize the Taho with screensavers, clock and calendar styles, a greeting, and display brightness and backlight times. More options and additional ringtones are available for purchase from Sprint.

We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Sanyo Taho in San Francisco using Sprint service. Call quality was quite good on the whole. The signal was strong in most places, even in a subway station, and the audio was free of static or interference. Voices sounded natural as well, even if some of our friends sounded the tiniest bit raspy at times. If we had a complaint it's that the audio gets distorted at the highest volume levels. It's great that the phone gets loud--we had little trouble hearing in even the noisiest place--but it doesn't help much if your friends sound like robots.

Sanyo Taho call quality sample Listen now:

On their end, callers also reported good conditions. They could tell that we were using a cell phone, but they didn't report any significant problems outside of some background noise. Calls to automated systems were satisfactory as well, but it was best if we were in a quiet room. Speakerphone calls were just average. The external speaker gets quite loud, but the sound was somewhat distorted even at the medium levels. It wasn't unusable, but we were hoping for better.

The Taho has a rated battery life of 6.1 hours talk time. Our tests revealed a talk time of 6 hours and 32 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Taho has a digital SAR of 0.61 watt per kilogram.

Sanyo Taho (Sprint)

Sanyo Taho (Sprint)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7
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