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Travelocity Travel Phone (Beyond E-Tech K250) review: Travelocity Travel Phone (Beyond E-Tech K250)

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The Travel Phone's phones book holds just 300 contacts, with room in each entry for four phone numbers, a company name, an e-mail address, and a birthday. That's not a lot of room to save your friends' digits, but you save an additional 250 names on each SIM card. The phone book interface is also very Sony Ericsson, particularly the menu tabs at the top of the display. Caller groups are available and you can pair contacts with a photo or video and one of 15 64-chord polyphonic ringtones.

Basic features include text and multimedia messaging, unit and currency converters, a stopwatch, a world clock, an alarm clock, a file manager, a to-do list, a calendar, USB mass storage, Bluetooth, a speakerphone, and a calculator. And as befits a Beyond E-tech device, you also get a few offbeat applications like BMI and menstrual calculators and something called an E-Buddy (we have no idea). And if that wasn't enough, the Chat and E-Book Reader apps were equally baffling.

Don't believe the 8-megapixel label on the camera.

The camera is labeled as being 8-megapixel, but the available resolutions don't go above standard VGA (640x480 pixels). Why do they basically lie to us? Well, as Cellular Abroad puts it, it gave the camera a lower resolution because it wanted to make the phone cheaper. Fair enough, but the company could have at least taken the "8-megapixel" label off the phone's rear cover. Perhaps that will happen in the phone's final form. You get a broad selection of editing options and a bright flash (it doubles as a flashlight), but photo quality is just average. The Travel Phone also records video with options like a night mode and color effects. You don't get a microSD card in the box, but the handset will fit cards up to 2GB.

The Travel Phone's photo quality is just average.

Like the Duet models, the Travel Phone offers a bizarre "Phone TV" app. Even if you raise the extendable antenna and set the country choice to "America" you'll get only snow. To get working channels you'll need to find analog TV broadcasts; those may be available in other countries, but good luck finding them in the United States. Other media options include an FM radio, a voice recorder, and a simple music player. Don't expect too much.

We were surprised to find a shake control feature on the Travel Phone. Among other things, you can use it to accept an incoming call and change the wallpaper and music track. It's a nice touch and it works well. The Travel Phone also has an accelerometer that works in select applications, like the photo gallery. Gamers can play four Java titles: Kungfu Chicken, The Mummy, Horror Island, and Super Beat Star. Surprisingly, the only Travelocity content on the phone is a choice of wallpapers featuring the Web site's ubiquitous gnome.

We tested the quad-band (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) Travel Phone in San Francisco using AT&T service. Call quality was quite satisfying. Conversations were clear, the signal was strong, and we had enough volume. At times the audio had a bit of vibration, but it was barely noticeable. Making calls from either SIM card is easy; just dial the number and press either Talk button to get started. To accept a call, just press your desired Talk button when the phone rings.

On their end, callers said we sounded fine. They could tell that we were using a cell phone, but they had few complaints. Only a couple people mentioned that we sounded a tad breathy. Just keep in mind that call quality will vary by carrier and network. Speakerphone calls aren't quite as sharp; the sound was distorted at all volume levels. We could have a conversation, but the conditions weren't ideal.

The Travel Phone has a rated battery life 10 hours talk time and 5.4 days standby time.

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