We have had the Ravine 2 for about two weeks and wanted to post some early impressions.
This unit is the primary phone for another family member while the LG vx8370 is the primary phone for me. When she calls me, her voice is transmitted as clear, loud, and natural sounding. In a quiet room there is a very faint white noise that I hear between she begins speaking and when she finishes speaking; by very faint I mean that I almost have to concentrate on listening for it for my ears to hear it in addition to her voice.
Before turning the phone over to her, I made a few calls on it to her on her previous phone. The earpiece volume has eight volume settings, the speakerphone has eight volume settings, and the ringer volume has five volume settings. Compared to some basic phones where it might take at least two volume increases to hear an appreciable volume difference, each ringer and earpiece and speakerphone increase makes an appreciable difference. The ringer volume on medium and the earpiece volume on level three or four was loud enough to be uncomfortable but not quite painful. So this could be an excellent phone for someone with hearing loss.
After you buy it, I have three things to caution you about:
(1) While recharging the phone while it's turned off with the phone either plugged into the wall or inserted into the recharging cradle, the inner and outer screens are blank until you press one of the side keys. Upon pressing one of the side keys, the outside screen lights up to show the message that the phone is being recharged. The first time I observed the screen go blank, I thought uh-oh -- this phone just suffered a major malfunction.
(2) The brief guide included with the phone, the pdf manual, and the website (link) tell you that the memory card has to be inserted with the gold colored contacts facing up which is the opposite of how the manuals for our other basic phones instruct us to insert the memory card
(3) If you have sensitive hearing or you're someplace where you don't want to disturb the peace and quiet of others, be aware that seemingly everything is preset loud such as when you are playing the factory ringtones to select one of them or when you play a video
Before we purchased the phone, we considered the concerns about the location of the microphone. FWIW -- Before turning the phone over to her, I made a few calls to her with the phone held between my cheek and my shoulder. I held it identically to the way I hold the LG vx8370, and she couldn't detect any adverse change to the quality of my voice. I then exagerated the placement of the phone by pushing more of my cheek against the inside of the phone and still she said my voice sounded the same as when I was holding the phone against my ear with my hand.
It has a voice record option and during a call records just the voice of the other party. When you press the center button to start the recording, the other party can hear a beep. I wanted to mention that in case you live in a state where it's legal to record the other party without informing the other party to get their consent to record them. The recording is stored in the sounds folder in the qcp format.
The phone feels solid like an IBM Thinkpad laptop, and the keys and the direction pad have a great response.
The Daily Scoop app on the LG Cosmos Touch was causing all kinds of problems for its owners. While it's present on this phone, a delete option is available to completely remove it; I say "completely" because as best as I can tell it's all gone.
Turning off EVDO lasts until you either put the phone on airplane mode or you turn the phone off at which point either action will cause the phone to then revert back to the hybrid 1x/3G mode.
The 'CLR' key is a a dual key -- it also functions as a shortcut to the gzgear apps when you press and hold the 'CLR' key
The flashlight mode is impressive. The brightness of it is comparable to the 3 lumen low mode of my LED flashlight. The beam is very useful -- instead of having a bright hotspot and a dim spill, the brightness is almost completely uniform from one edge of the beam to the other edge. The size of the beam is huge.
During my brief time using the compass this is what I observed. The compass seems to consistently be accurate when you use it with the phone flipped closed and held horizontally; but accuracy when the phone is flipped open seems to require that you hold the phone in a vertical and not horizontal position. While horizontal and flipped open, most of the time the compass kept pointing north regardless of what direction I was facing even if the compass had just a few minutes ago been calibrated.
We spent only a few minutes trying out the pedometer feature. We have a standalone pedometer that lets you input your stride length. The Ravine 2 calculates your stride length based upon the values you enter for things like height and weight.
The phone forewarns you that restoring it to factory settings can take up to 5 minutes. I restored the phone once, and that took about two minutes. I haven't yet observed any abnormal behavior from the phone after restoring the phone to factory settings. I mention that due to what was reported (link) when resetting to factory settings for the Ravine 1.
About a week ago the phone by itself detected that there was an update available. "This software update includes enhancements and improvements to your Casio GzOne Ravine 2". The update download took a little under four minutes and the Software Version says WC781VWB885F.252 under Phone Info -> SW/HW Version; the sticker on the side of the box says the factory installed software version is WC781VWB878F.252
Afterward, we looked and could not find on the internet information about what the update was for.
The video player seems to have capabilities comparable to the Samsung Reality/u370 as far as what frame rate, video bitrate and video dimensions it can play; I tested it with these files:
- a .3g2 file recorded with the u370 with a 2000 kbps video bitrate
- a 400x240 h264 file with 3 reference frames basic profile level 2.1 and frame rate greater than 15
The phone wouldn't let me bluetooth transfer a .mp4 file; but I sidestepped that by changing the extension to .3g2 before successfully re-attempting a bluetooth transfer. It downconverted the resolution without any problem or stuttering regardless of whether I played the video in portrait mode or landscape mode. The fast forward in landscape mode works -- the trick is to press and hold the directional key in the fast forward or reverse direction for several seconds; without pressing and holding the direction key, the phone begins playing the next video file. I mention that because to me the phone didn't show any indication that fast forwarding/rewinding was available in landscape mode. I've been very impressed with how video looks on the LG vx8370 but the couple of videos I played on the Ravine 2 looked even sharper. Maybe I'm easily impressed, but I think video looks so great that I think this takes away a lot of the sting of the lack of a music player if you have the ability to convert your video collection to a portable format.
We haven't yet taken any pictures or used the phone's video recorder. But cnet has a review (link). And we haven't yet sent any text messages from it.
I tried to evaluate as much of the menus and submenus as I could, and throughout nearly all of them the font size on the normal setting was large and easy to read. The other font size - large - was appreciably larger. There were about two places where the font size is not adjustable and is smaller than in the rest of the (sub)menus: the calendar and the menu for adjusting the settings for the GZGear apps. The phone has about five brightness settings and was very comfortable to read at the second lowest brightness setting.
During this brief time that we've owned the phone, our initial conclusion is that we're very impressed with the phone.
Two miscellaneous notes:
- I had read a comment from someone about his Ravine 1 and the charging cradle. He said that the fit is tight enough that he had to remove the skin/snap-on phone cover. The fit is snug enough when we insert the Ravine 2 into the charging cradle that maybe likewise you might have to leave off a skin/snap-on cover
- I've read a few comments outside of this forum saying that the covers for the ports like the memory card and the charging port seem poor enough that they'd fail to early on in their duty to be part of making the phone water resistant. I disagree in that in the short term they seem to me well-designed enough; but in the long long term I wonder how their water resistance will be