Casio Exilim C721 Review
main menu of the Casio Exilim C721 is laid out in familiar Verizon fashion with categories for media center, messaging, contacts, recent calls, and settings & tools. Four themes are included: Classic, Optical Black, Positive Red, and Composite Silver. The last three are the most graphical, but we liked the Optical Black theme the best as the color complimented the phone. There are also options to change the menu layout between tab, list, and grid view, select your own desktop wallpaper, and change the clock layout.
Even though most new phones come with 1000-1500 entry phonebooks, the Exilim is still relatively small at 500 entries. You can type in the person’s name, four phone numbers and two email addresses, as well as selecting a picture and ringtone that will be used when that contact calls. After a contact is saved, you can assign a one of their phone number to one of 999 speed dial locations.
Messaging is also pretty straight forward, as you can send and receive text, picture and video messages. The easiest way to enter in a message is by using T9 predictive entry through the keypad. This is fine for simple messages, but heavy users may prefer a device with a full QWERTY keyboard.
5MP autofocus camera is one of its top selling features. To begin, you simply open the flip, rotate the screen 180 degrees, and then close it back over the keypad. Once that is done, the screen will show four menu choices: Start slide show, Browse album, Record video, and Take picture. Pressing on the shutter button will activate the camera and will use the display as the viewfinder. Across the edge of the phone are functions buttons for back, zoom in/out, menu options, and shutter. The display will also show icons for things like the resolution, zoom level, shooting mode, and white balance. Located in the center of the screen is a focusing square that will turn green when the shutter button is pressed down half-way (this indicates it has properly focused). Then when the shutter button is pressed down the rest of the way, the image is captured. It takes about 1.5 seconds to focus on a subject and then another 1.5 seconds to capture the image. You can then choose to erase, send or save the image, which saving takes 3 seconds. The total turnaround time to focus, capture an image, save it, and then focus and capture a 2nd image is 12 seconds. Keep in mind most traditional digital cameras take half that time. Turning the autofocus off cuts it down to 8 seconds. There are a wide variety of settings, including 15 Best Shot Modes that automatically tailor the imaging options depending on the type of picture you want to take, image stabilization, resolution, flash, self timer, macro, brightness, and white balance. The only two settings that seem to be missing are ISO and light metering. We tried a few of the Best Shot Modes, including person, scenery, night view, and party. Each one has its advantages, but most of the time turning it off would produce the best looking image. The 3x optical zoom is also a rarity on a Verizon device and was only every offered on the Samsung a950 with 2x. It offers a total of 6 zoom-stops, and is quite fast. This is one of the coolest camera features on the Exilim, but the more you zoom in, the darker the image will become as the aperture gets smaller. Turning on the Image Stabilization while using the zoom also produces a clearer picture.
We took some images outside with the Casio Exilim C721, Samsung Omnia, and LG enV Touch. The Exilim produced above-average pictures, as would be expected, with accurate color representation and modest saturation. What surprised us was that only the center part of the image looked to be in-focus, with corners looking blurry. This was evident in every image and was most predominate in the lower-left corner. We can only assume this is caused by a slight lens defect. The Exilim’s images also had softer edges and less fine detail than the ones produced by the enV Touch. In fact, when doing a side-by-side comparison, most of the outside pictures taken by the enV Touch looked better than the ones taken by the Exilim and Omnia. (We will go into further detail and testing with our upcoming Verizon cameraphone comparison review). When using the Exilim indoors it has the same problems as most other cameraphones; the noise level increases and the images start to look blurry due to the slower shutter speeds. There is a two-LED flash that will stay turned on in dark environments and gets brighter when the picture is captured. It does rather well if your subject is within 6 feet of the camera, but has almost no effect if the subject is further away. One area of disappointment is that videos can only be recorded up to 320x240 resolution, when the Omnia and enV Touch can record at VGA 640x480 resolution. In the end, the Casio Exilim is a major improvement over the Samsung FlipShot in regards to the camera, but the enV Touch consistently produced better looking images, even though it has a 3.2MP camera. That being said, neither the Exilim C721 nor enV Touch is a true replacement for a real digital camera.
Since the Casio Exilim C721 is not designed as a music-centric device, it utilized the same Verizon “red” music player that is found on most of their other phones. Music quality was average, though not as good as the enV Touch, enV3 or Chocolate 3, as those devices have stereo speakers, but was still better than what we experienced with the Boulder. When the phone is closed, the front OLED display will show the track name and progress bar, and you can use the side buttons to rewind, fast-forward, play/pause, and adjusting the volume. For better music quality you can use a Stereo Bluetooth headset or wired earbuds, but it does require the use of a 2.5mm headset adapter.
The web browser is said to be HTML, but we consider it to be quasi-HTML due to the way pages are rendered. When going to a large site, such as PhoneArena.com, it divides a single page into separate smaller pages that you have to click through. Because of this, the original layout is broken and it is harder to navigate sites. We also attempted to view videos from the Mobile YouTube site, but they would not load.
Additional features include Voice Commands, Appointment Calendar, VZ Navigator for GPS guided driving directions, VCast videos, ringtones and game downloads. All of these are standard on most Verizon phones.