Kyocera KX440 with Telus Instant Talk Service Reviewed

Recently Telus introduced their Instant Talk service over their existing cellular PCS network. The Kyocera KX440 tri-band (CDMA 1900/800, AMPS 800) was chosen to fill the role since it has the push-to-talk functionality built-in. The lovely people at Kyocera sent us two of their phones loaded with the Telus Instant Talk service, and we put it to the test.

Key Features

- Push-to-Talk (PTT)
- 2-Way Text Messaging
- Alarm Clock, Calculator, Calendar, Email, Mobile Chat, Predictive Text eZiText, To-Do List, Voice Commands:
- Battery Type: Li – Ion (Standby: 96.00 h, Talk time 3.3 h)
- BREW compatible
- Speakerphone
- Openwave WAP browser
- Dimensions 4.5″ x 1.9″ x 1.1″ (114 x 49.2 x 27.8mm)
- Weight 4.3 oz (122 g)

Design and Features

The KX440 is housed in a sporty design with an optional karabiner type clip, it comes in handy and I constantly used it to clip the phone to my backpack or even through your pants belt loop. In addition to that, as my girlfriend pointed out, the clip also acts as a single serving spaghetti measuring tool (yes, she actually said that). If you don’t want the extra weight that the clip adds, you can switch it for a straight plastic backing.

The viewing screen is a 104×80 pixel 65k color backlit display. When the handset is in use, the buttons of the phone light up in a cool blue color adding lots of ‘bling bling’ value. When navigating through the user interface, your thumb lines up perfectly with the 4-way directional pad when holding the phone in one hand. The push to talk button is located on the side and is extremely easy to push, so much so that when you carry the phone in your pocket you are constantly sending push to talk requests to your contacts. Of course, this can easily be combated by locking your handset.

The phone features a rather simple easy to use interface common on most handsets. Downloadable ring tones and wallpaper can be bought through the Openwave browser.

Voice recognition worked great and was easy to program, definite plus for those weekly road warriors.

Durability

This really depends on the user. I myself never dropped my phone, but the MobileMag editor Fabrizo Pilato being the clutz that he is dropped his on several occasions and is now left with a scratched phone. Pretty standard fare unless the phone was completely cased in rubber, at no point did the phone ‘break’, but a case of some sort would have prevented this.

Push-to-Talk (PTT)

The push to talk function was tested over Telus Instant Talk Service. This service isn’t to be confused with their existing Mike network for business users.

As for PTT functionality the phone served us great. Unlike the Mike network, there is a slight delay of around 3 to 5 seconds when sending push-to-talk requests and when sending and receiving voice. Not a huge deal, it gets the job done! When you want to initiate a push to talk call, simply press the PTT button on the side of the phone, select the user with the directional pad, and hit the PTT button again. If the user is out of the service area, or they have the phone off you will see a “XXX is not available” message. We seemed to get this a lot, we were not sure what the deal was due to both of our phones being on. I’m guessing it has to do with signal strength, but the message that you receive doesn’t give you any details to why you can’t reach another user. If the user you are trying to contact isn’t answering, you can try alerting them by pressing the OK button once in the PTT menu and it will send a really annoying but highly effective high-pitch alert to the user’s phone.

Once connected only one person can talk at the same time, so when you are receiving voice, stay off the PTT button or you will receive an error beep. Like I stated earlier, there is a 3 to 5 second delay for the message to reach its destination, so I often found myself stepping on the other person’s conversation until I got used to the delay.

The only drawback of the phone’s PTT functionality is that you need to login to your account online to add a Push-to-Talk contact. When MobileMag first received the phones it took us a while to grasp that concept- who reads manuals anyways? If you don’t add it through those channels, then no PTT for you.

Telus Instant Talk Service

Since the Kyocera KX440 is Telus’ flagship entry level phone for their Instant Talk service, the review wouldn’t be complete without analyzing the service itself.

The pricing for the additional instant talk rate is based on your existing plan’s price. If your regular PCS monthly plan rate is higher than $41, you only pay $10 per month for the instant talk service. If it is $40 and under you pay $20. This includes unlimited local and long distance PTT service within Canada and to the US. If you are roaming in the US, PTT will run you $.20 per minute.

Currently, the only setback is the fact that the only users you can reach via PTT are the users with the same phone as you with a PTT plan. With that said it’s perfect for small corporations or even families that are looking for an inexpensive cellular solution. Roll out all the same phones, setup company wide contact lists and now you have unlimited cheap airtime.

Pricing

You can currently buy the Kyocera KX440 from Telus for $229.99 without a service plan. If you want to sign your life over for 3 years you can grab it for $39.99. 2 year contract for $179.99 and 1 year for $129.99.

All prices listed are in CDN $.

Overall Impressions

The phone performed quite well and we were impressed with the ease of push-to-talk. PTT connectivity issues should be looked into, on several occasions both parties had service and were in “available” mode but could not receive PTT requests.

The sporty design and sleek look was highly complemented on. If these phones catch on in the general consumer market it would definitely be a great solution for cheap airtime. As for businesses, it would also fit their needs quite well.

Pros:

- Ergonomically correct
- Push to talk functions seamless
- Sports clip
- Sporty Design, we received many ooo’s and aww’s for coolness factor
- Easy to navigate menus
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Cons:

- 3-5 second delay with anything to do with push to talk connectivity
- Can’t add your own PTT contacts via the phone, need to do it online or through a service rep.
- Non descriptive PTT user unavailable messages

Review Links:

- Kyocera’s KX440 Page
- Telus KX440 Page
- Telus Instant Talk Service
- Telus Instant Talk Plan Rates


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