Pantech Reveal C790 Review

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

Pantech has been a relatively low key player with mostly messaging devices targeted for teens and kids. It's understandable how the texting craze directly relates to their generation – especially when parents try their best finding the perfect phone for them without costing an arm or a leg. That's where the Pantech Reveal C790 comes into mind. It  builds on some of the successes the manufacturer has had in the past with messaging devices like the Slate and Matrix. The slider portrait QWERTY handset will hopefully provide a decent experience that'll prove to be a functional device aimed for the heavy text messenger in mind.

The package contains:

Pantech Reveal
Charger
User Guide
Quick Start Guide

Design:

Pantech deviates from the path to offer a different form factor for the Reveal. We've seen them do the candybar and dual-sliding form factors which proved to be very successful for them. This time around, they stick to a sliding portrait QWERTY design that really simplifies calling features and at the same time accentuates the messaging aspect. Sure the plastic material used to make the device may feel inexpensive, but it does a great job in keeping it light weight (3.95 oz) and affordable. The entire back side of the phone is made out of plastic, but it does attempt to emulate the look of a milled aluminum finish. When closed, it's compact enough to make it look inconspicuous in the pockets, but opening it definitely increases its footprint.



You can compare the Pantech Reveal C790 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

Luckily with this latest incarnation, Pantech upgraded the resolution of the 2.2” LCD screen to 320 x 240 with support for 262k colors – the detail in it is strikingly noticeable when compared to the Slate. Even the tiny looking text on the phone was easily distinguishable to the naked eye while colors had a vivid tone to them. Viewing angles have definitely improved, but the reflective screen made it difficult to view in direct sunlight.

We're fans of the fairly large buttons on the numeric keypad – making them easy to press thanks to their tactile feel. The numeric buttons were slightly raised to look more prominent while the circular navigational pad made moving through the menus a breeze. There's only a single dedicated button on the keypad that launches the messaging application directly. Pantech made good work out of the keypad because every single area of it was used up for the buttons.

Sliding the phone up will reveal the QWERTY keyboard which uses the same exact layout found on the Pantech Slate. Although we praised the responsiveness of the latter's keyboard, we were disappointed that this one was a step back. The round keys used on the Slate have been replaced with rectangular ones that are slightly raised from the surface, but they lack the responsive feel to make typing a breeze. On top of that, the cramp confines of the QWERTY will make it extremely difficult for anyone with large fingers to type quickly and easily.



You can find the proprietary charging port and adequately sized volume rocker on the left side of the phone.  There's the dedicated camera button to launch the photo taking application and slot loading microSD port on the right edge. Turning it over to its back, you'll notice the same 1.3-megapixel camera tucked away by itself in the top portion of the phone with the speaker phone next to it. Removing the plastic back cover will give you access to the battery and SIM card slot.



Pantech Reveal C790 360 Degrees View:




Software and Features:

With some time on their hands, it's clear that Pantech really spiced up the software with an updated interface to accompany its modern look.  Thanks to the QVGA display, there have been improvements with the visual look of the menus, icons, and text. The software that's running the Pantech Reveal is just the same we expect with AT&T's configurations – it's simple enough for anyone to navigate through the menus with little confusion. When it comes down to personalization, it's a mixed bag with the system generally allowing you to modify the wallpaper, font, menu type, and color scheme. It may not be as in depth as others, but at least it has some offerings as opposed to none. With the big overhaul from the mundane interface we were exposed to on the Pantech Slate, the Reveal definitely manages to make navigating an enjoyful experience and free from any slowdown.



By this time, we're accustomed to accept that even the most basic handsets will offer a wide range of information to be saved for each contact. From phone numbers to email addresses, the Reveal will provide a decent amount to be stored – up to 1,000 contacts can be saved on the phone.



The paltry amount of on-board memory on the Pantech Slate made it stick out like a sore thumb. Fortunately the Pantech Reveal boasts roughly 85MB of memory out of the box – more enough to store some media. In addition, it'll accept microSD cards up to 16GB in size.

The heart and soul of this device is its messaging aspects – somewhat the same items we've seen on previous handsets. You can quickly send a message by pressing the dedicated button on the numeric keypad – from there you can start typing your message and insert a picture, video, or sound to send as an MMS.


Sometimes instant messaging could be an alternate way to get in touch with a friend. You'll have your pick from AIM, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger right on the device. If you happen to hit the end button accidentally, you'll be safe because it will continue to run in the background and remind you if someone messages you back.
 
When there's a messaging phone to be used by teens and kids, you'll be sure to find the standard Mobile Email application that's found on almost every feature phone on AT&T's lineup. You can only choose an email provider from the available list, so you're out of gas if you happen to not find your specific provider. Then again, we're sure more kids prefer to text or instant message their friends rather than typing up an email.



So the Pantech Reveal retains the same 1.3-megapixel camera both found on the Slate and Matrix. Unfortunately the end result with the picture quality remains unchanged – you'll find muddy looking images that lack any fine detail while colors for the most part look washed out. It's not the best in really attempting to save important events, but it'll do for a quick shot for picture messaging. One item we found rather annoying was the long wait time needed to take a shot. After pressing the camera button to take the picture, there's an animation that occurs on-screen that emulates the shutter closing. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait and sit very still until the animation fully completes before moving.





The Pantech Reveal C790 gets a bump in terms of shooting video – it's doubled the resolution now at up to 320 x 240 pixels. Its video capturing capability isn't its strong point just because it produced choppy-looking videos with poor color representation – best suited for MMS use. Although the resolution has been increased, it is still far from being a go to device for recording videos. The Pantech Reveal is a video share capable phone, unfortunately we were unable to test out this feature.

The Slate was never thought of being a media centric handset because it had a paltry amount of on board memory which wasn't supplemented with microSD support. This time around, we get treated to an up-to-date looking music player which displays the album cover, album name, artist, song title, and estimated time. The navigational pad is associated to the on-screen controls to pause/play, reverse, and forward a song. Sound from the speakerphone was extremely loud without much crackling heard. You can tailor the sound by using the specific equalizer setting to really enhance the overall sound. We're a fan at how Pantech made the leap on the Reveal with its music playback.



The Reveal's video playback ability is probably one of the things that stood out most – especially when we couldn't do it on the Slate. Thanks to the QVGA display we were able to enjoy two movie trailers, coded in MPEG-4 at 320x240 and H.264 at 320x136. For a simple texting device, the Reveal did not stutter during playback and continued to play videos smoothly. Our only complaint was that it suffered from poor viewing angles – making it difficult to see the screen from slight angles. Sound from the video was generous enough to be heard from the speakerphone.



Using the device abroad for voice calls will pose no issues with its quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) capability while its tri-band UMTS connection (850/1900/2100 MHz) will keep you in the 3G loop wherever you go.

The browser really showed off its ability to quickly load complex web pages like ours in under 30 seconds. Once it was fully loaded, you'll be greeted to a zoomed out view where you can scroll to a specific area and zoom in. Scrolling wasn't an issue for the Reveal with both pictures and text rendering instantly as you continuously navigate the page. The only thing that bothered us was the need to get back to the homepage in order to type up a specific URL – there's no address bar to be found. Other than that single problem, we were impressed by the overall usability of the browser on the Reveal.




Performance:

Call quality on the Pantech Reveal C790 was a small disappointment because of the constant background noise that was heard on our end. Voices had a somewhat muffled sound to them, but still audible enough to the ear to make out words. On the other end, our callers stated that our voice sounded mute but without any static in the background. Switching to the speakerphone, we were told we sounded faint as if we were far from the phone. It was really difficult making out our conversations with the speakerphone – our callers sounded extremely muffled.

During our testing, the Pantech Reveal C790 was able to retain a constant good connection to AT&T's network – bars were solid with no dropped calls.

Battery life was impressive after clocking in 5 solid days of normal use which included heavy texting and web surfing. Pantech has the device rated for 3 hours of talk and 240 hours of standby time.

Conclusion:

With plenty of similar text messaging devices available, we were impressed with how Pantech easily turned things around with the Reveal. It does everything right in terms of upgrades between older models and this one – better screen, more in tune with its media capabilities, and a new form factor makes it excel as a well rounded device. Throw in an inexpensive price tag and we're sure that Pantech has revealed all it could to win over the messaging crowd. The Pantech Reveal C790 easily competes in an already crowded market and can stand its own ground without being lost in the baggage of sub-par handsets.

Pantech Reveal C790 Video Review:





Pros

  • Updated looks and interface
  • Decent media capabilities
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • Tiny buttons for the QWERTY
  • Poor image quality with camera

PhoneArena Rating:

6.5

User Rating:

5.8
4 Reviews

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