The Googlephone for everyone?
In addition to the standard Android Qwerty keyboard there's an alternative, TouchPal. The keys appear small in portrait mode but are fine for tapping out messages. The phone's accelerometer automatically switches to more spacious landscape mode when the phone is held sideways.
In portrait mode, the virtual keyboard is a tad cramped
By holding a finger down and swiping, you get a phone-style keyboard - it's a bit cramped for the screen space - or a semi-Qwerty keyboard like that used on the BlackBerry Pearl and Nokia E55. Some users will prefer a familiar texting layout, so it is useful to have the option – even if it isn’t the best laid-out touchscreen keypad we’ve seen. Typing using both Qwerty decks, however, was good – they're responsive, and we had few errors. Predictive text helps you along.
The Pulse has a limited 60MB of onboard memory, but a 2GB Micro SD memory card is supplied in the box. The music player software is standard-issue Android, so is straightforward to use if not as snazzy as the one on the iPhone. Any tunes copied over, downloaded or slipped in on a memory card are automatically arranged in appropriate categories under regular music player headings.
Playing tracks, the UI is clear and simple – large control buttons, shuffle and loop keys plus a draggable timeline cursor keep it simple. Cover art is supported and, as well as track list browsing, you can skim through your files in almost Cover Flow-style when you hold the phone in landscape mode.
Oddly, the Pulse has a 2.5mm socket in the top of the phone rather than a standard 3.5mm jack, but at least a 2.5mm-to-3.5mm adaptor cable is supplied with the phone. It’s not an ideal or elegant solution, but at least it’s available out of the box. That said, with our early review sample, the adaptor sometimes required a bit of fiddling to get stereo. And there was a strange issue with the pause control not working properly when other earphones were connected to the lead: it would release pause after a few seconds. These may be pre-production issues, but we’ll check and report back.
Micro SDHC extends the paltry on-board storage
Sound quality is very good, though, particularly when using decent headphones of your own, but even the boxed set put in an adequate performance. Playback sound has a good range with plenty of bass coming through.