"Promising Concept, Clumsy Execution"1.5 starson by Zaphod B. Goode
Pros: Thin & wide; Adequate camera memory; Chargers are built to last
Cons: Terminally inadequate ear volume; Awful synth voice-dial match; Lid-mounted side buttons; No camera flash
Summary: Reference note: My previous phone, also via Verizon, was an LG VX6000. My upgrade was primarily because the LG car chargers would begin blowing the ACC fuse in my car after a couple uses each; secondarily for a better camera; also for the Razr's more compact size. Why LG engineers decided on a connector for the car charger that has something like 6000 microscopic conductors - which of course cross and short - when standard DC power only requires two, is beyond me, but there it is. Anyhow, long story short...I got tired of contorting myself for dives under my dashboard to replace fuses every day.
So... I bought into the hype and traded in for a Razr V3m, for about $60 after the $50 rebate. Now I realize that people generally react with hostility to negative reviews, but I've always held that unless a product is truly excellent, highlighting existing flaws is ten times more valuable to any prospective buyer than yet another "Oh, it's GREAT!" review. So if you love this phone I recommend skipping this, 'cause this thing has got me a little steamed.
My verdict: The Razr is a nice starting concept but the design and execution are seriously flawed on key points.
1. Unless I'm completely spacing out some setting somewhere, the earpiece volume is inadequate to the point of rendering the phone unusable. This ought to be a no-brainer from a design standpoint. The folks at Motorola may not have anticipated this, but a surprising number of phone calls do not occur in anechoic chambers or libraries. I'd hazard a guess that "extreme background noise" is the norm, not the exception...or maybe I've just got too many years of satisfyingly loud rock guitar behind me. The control factor is that my LG VX6000's earpiece could be adjusted to the threshold of pain (no exaggeration,) which is essential in my book - while after tinkering and tweaking with the Razr's volume control the best it will do is somewhere around midway in the LG's volume range. Actually hearing the person on the other end of a phone call is rather, errm, central to the whole concept of a telephone, and if I can't do that then what I'm carrying is a very stylish chunk of useless plastic. A serious design flaw that in itself makes a swap mandatory;
2. The Razr's voice dial function bases its voice recognition not on the user's own voice waveforms, which you record when you enter contact numbers and names, but rather on an electronic interpretation based solely on the text of the name you enter. This was a profoundly stupid, or maybe just lazy, engineering decision on the part of Motorola. An example: One of my more frequent contacts is named "Berg." In order to get the Razr to voice dial it, I found I had to pronounce it just like what that moronic synthesized voice thinks the text should sound like, namely: "Beaarrje." I kid you not. On top of that nonsense, my old LG's voice dial was two simple steps: a) Push the voice dial button and wait for the voice to say "Say a name...," then b) say it. Done. With the Razr it's a minimum of three steps: a) Push the button, b) say a "command" like "Call" (or pretty much anything audible,) and wait for the prompt of "Say a number," then c) say the name in electronic-synth-speak. If you're extremely lucky it'll recognize what you said the first time, and the people standing nearby who are staring at you because you've just said "Beaarrje!" won't begin phoning for men in white coats on your behalf when you have to begin repeating that bizarre sound in increasingly mechanical tones. Do I need this? The Razr's apparently got a voice recorder on board - how much of a mental leap is it to route a few seconds' worth of that to the voice dial function? So another no-go, and another vote for a different manufacturer.
3. The side-mounted function buttons are located on the Razr's lid, not the body. At first I'd thought this was a learning curve issue since my LG had them mounted on the body - 'just need to train my fingers to play a new tune, so to speak. The problem is threefold: The Razr's lid is, as we all know, extremely thin; the side buttons are quite long; there are buttons on both left and right sides. There's virtually no way anyone with fingers larger than a six-year-old's can grab the lid to flip it either direction without inadvertently pushing one or more buttons, and since the right function button (voice dial,) is as large as the one opposite, pushing one without the other requires some delicate manual dexterity that I simply can't be messing with in most calling situations. With body-mounted buttons you can grasp the phone and operate the side buttons - or not - with ease, even one-handedly. The Razr's speakerphone switch (at upper left,) needn't be side-mounted at all, which would have eliminated the opposing sides problem.
4. Another no-brainer: If you're going to (finally) give us a camera with a decent memory resolution capacity, doesn't it make sense also to install a simple flash? I won't even go into the idea of better-quality lens optics.
On the plus side:
- The Razr's size is indeed the major selling point: Thinner is always better and the width is also generous;
- Both the desk and car chargers are thankfully robust, something LG would do well to study and imitate.
...And that's about it.
The Razr, unfortunately, is an intriguing design but a disappointing step backward in terms of functionality, and ultimately function is all that matters.
With the bitter taste of my last eight or ten fuse-swapping excursions beneath my car dash fresh in mind, the plan is to check into the Samsung a930 - it's got every feature the Razr has (less the thin/wide dimensions,) and a flash for the camera to boot. What kind of voice dial matching setup it has and what kind of volume is available at the earpiece are not forthcoming in spec sheets and I can't remember what the button orientation is, so I will be researching that one thoroughly in advance. If it fails any of those I'll have to grit my teeth, get the LG VX8300 and just plan on carrying the desk charge unit everywhere I go, until such time as LG's engineers can competently design a car charger and power jack for it.
All in all, cellphone purchasing has become a major hassle, and now I have a nice, snazzy Razr to return.