- Web enabled
- Full range of call-management features
- 400-name phone book
- Attractive silver-alloy finish
- Up to three hours of talk time and 160 hours of standby time with standard battery
While some of today's wireless phones emphasize style over substance, the Ericsson R280LX strikes a comfortable balance between user-friendly functionality and a subtly stylish look.
Out of the box, the phone was a snap to use. The R280LX rests comfortably in the hand, and its ergonomic design let us easily hold and dial it one-handed. The sturdy rubberized keypad, logical key layout, and backlit five-line LCD screen (four text lines) provided for a nice feel and very intuitive use. We rarely needed to look at the manual, a rarity in these days of increasingly complex phone interfaces. The onscreen tutorial and preprogrammed help features were up to answering any questions we had.
One of the R280LX's nicest aspects is its selection of personalization options. After all, who wants a phone that's just like all the others? We were able to customize the display text and easily add favorite Web sites to the minibrowser. You not only have several ring tones to choose from, you can even write your own. We had no trouble programming in our favorite Mudhoney song, as the keypad can work as a musical keyboard, sharps and flats included. Very impressive, and truly entertaining.
Fun aside, the R280LX is loaded with useful features for home and work, including easy-to-use voice mail, a 400-number phone book, caller ID (which stores the incoming number for quick one-key redial), a built-in clock with an alarm feature (perfect for important reminders), text messaging with space to store 30 messages, and a minibrowser to access the Web (you will need AT&T Wireless' PocketNet service).
We were able to send and receive text e-mails beautifully, even if typing with the phone keypad took a bit of practice. The e- mail option is simple to use, and highly convenient. (And we found ourselves missing it terribly after completing the testing for this review.) Web browsing went smoothly, although it wasn't easy to locate the menu option for typing in a URL of our choice. This was surprising given the user-friendliness of most other features.
We tested sound quality in a wide range of circumstances. During a Who concert, we called friends and our own voice mail to share the songs, with wonderfully clear results. A phone call in a crowded elevator with the volume select on the lowest level also produced clear and precise sound, without letting others hear what the caller was saying.
We did have a few small quibbles. Weighing in at 6.1 ounces, this phone is not so heavy that you'll want to skip your workout, but it does have a bit more heft than many others on the market. Also, we occasionally found ourselves having to press keys more than once to enter a number or an option.
The battery life--which averaged around three hours of talk time, and 96 hours of standby time--is somewhat less than we expected. Furthermore, time spent surfing the Web drained battery reserves quite quickly. The phone does come equipped with a rapid charger, which can fully charge the battery in a little over an hour, but lugging it around could be a pain if you travel a lot. Finally, the plastic interface that connects the charger to the phone was a bit flimsy.
These concerns aside, the Ericsson R280LX is a great, reasonably priced companion for anyone who wants a business- capable phone that's also lots of fun to use. --Heather Campbell
- Intuitive menus for easy navigation and option selection
- Web-browser enabled
- Phone book, faxing, and e-mail features perfect for business use
- Excellent sound quality in a wide range of conditions
- Many customization options
- Slightly heavier than comparable phones
- Keypad a bit sticky at times
- Less battery longevity than expected
How We Tested Battery-Talk/Standby Time
When reading our reviews, you should view the test results of mobile-phone battery talk time and standby time as relative information only. Many variables, including carrier signal strength at your location, signal consistency (including incoming and outgoing calls), display and ringer settings, and battery charging methods and history, will affect performance. When handset manufacturers and mobile phone carriers list talk-time and standby-time ratings, they usually include disclaimers about variable performance and often refer to the times they publish as maximum times. Some quote expected battery life ranges, and in this case you're probably safe to assume you'll experience at least the minimum rated range. Note that manufacturers of dual-mode digital and analog handsets publish battery-life rates for both digital and analog modes, as analog mode consumes much more power than digital mode.
Our Tests: We tested digital-mode talk and standby times with each phone. Prior to each test, we fully charged the phone's battery according to the manufacturer's directions. To test digital-phone talk time, we turned the phone on, established a digital carrier signal, dialed a number in our test lab, and, when the call rang through, took the receiving phone's handset off the hook. When all went well, we didn't do anything else except record the time when the phone died. In a couple of cases, the phones lost the signal and dropped the calls. If we were right there and could redial, we did so immediately and continued running the test. Otherwise, we halted the test, recharged the battery, and started the test over. Assuming consistent carrier-signal strength, this test should represent best-case talk time. And it's worth noting that several phones' talk-time performance significantly exceeded the manufacturers' ratings.
To test digital-phone standby time, we turned the phone on, established a carrier signal, and left the phone in standby mode. We checked the phone every few hours (for what was often days on end) until the phone finally cut out. Since no outgoing or incoming calls occurred during testing and because the phone was not moved, this method should represent best-case standby time, again assuming consistent carrier signal strength.