Sprint and LG have done some interesting work this year. The LG Prada KE850, with its sleek black casing, easy interface and notable touchscreen, managed to out iPhone Apple’s popular device in several ways. Unfortunately, most people didn’t hear about it over the loud iPhonemania throughout the year. The high Prada price tag didn’t help either. On the other hand, the Sprint Muziq by LG is the Prada phone’s relatively cheap, even easier to use cousin. It outsmarts the iPhone too, but in a totally different way.
Features and Design
The Sprint Muziq is a flat, rectangular flip-top, about a half inch thick when closed. The wide numbered keys are also flat, divided only by thin, raised separators, but they work well. A traditional circle control, surrounded by the call, power and other buttons, is located above the keypad.
There are several things on the sides: two volume tabs (one up, one down), a phone toggle and a camera toggle, headphone jack, and two covered outputs for the miniUSB cord and the microSD card.
Close the phone and you’ll notice a small camera hole, a screen about an inch tall and a half inch wide, and a circular music control dial with play, pause and other buttons. Imagine an all-black Motorola RAZR with an iPod control on the front.
The Muziq supports both the Sprint Music Store and Sprint TV so you can get instant wireless music downloads while on-the-go. Other features include stereo Bluetooth, a 1.3MP camera and support for up tp 4GB memory cards – great for storing music or video.
Two noteworthy features include an integrated FM transmitter which allow you to broadcast music to your car stereo so you can listen to your tunes while driving, and streaming music through sprint Radio. There are more than 30 different stations to listen to including music, talk radio, news, and sports. Both of these features are often missed, and under-marketed in our opinion.
Image Courtesy of Sprint
Setup and Use
The Sprint Muziq is a music phone with a few enhancements, not a full-fledged Smartphone. The name isn’t a misnomer. Rather than being a flaw, Sprint concentrated on the phone’s strength and made a simple, versatile product.
The Muziq comes with a mini-CD which fits into any PC. (Note that it was tested and used on a PC, not on a Mac, and the instructions only mention PC requirements. Sprint may have an alternate package for Mac users.) After a five-minute setup, an interface called the Sprint Music Manager appears on the screen. It asks to find music on your hard drive, either in a specific place or on the whole thing. It will then take up to several minutes to collect the music, which gets listed in the Sprint Music Manager.
Along the top are the standard music control buttons (play, volume and so forth) and three tabs: Transfer, Get and Manage. Transfer is a drag-and-drop interface used by turning on the phone, connecting it via the miniUSB and moving music from the Sprint Music Manager list to the designated phone area. Get opens up the Sprint music area, a store front similar to the Apple Music Store. Manage lists the transferred song collection, organized by Song, Artists, Albums, Genre and the user-created My Playlists. iTunes users will adapt quickly (especially since Muziq can play Apple files, too).
The phone has a more straightforward, Java-based music player organized by Playlists, Songs, Artists and Genre. A pale background with simple text tabs, the interface is pretty generic. Don’t let it fool you. The sound quality is robust, even through the speaker, and the maximum volume is loud enough to project music across a quiet room. Close the phone and the aforementioned music control on the hood lights up. The music volume also seems to get higher, which may indicate another hidden speaker activates when the phone collapses. It also comes with Stereo Bluetooth so audiophiles can wirelessly connect the phone to their home system.
The Muziq main menu features the usual Sprint additions, such as Sprint TV, which features downloadable clips, and On Demand, a Reuters-like news service with the latest in sports, entertainment and business. It comes with a 1.3 Megapixel camera. The visual quality is OK, but well below anything in the Smartphone category.
Image Courtesy of Sprint
The suggested retail price is $299.99 USD, which is a little high for its limited capabilities outside of music. As of November Sprint is offering a $150 USD instant rebate. Take advantage of it. There is also a limited time $50 “web discount” if you buy it online, putting the price just under $100. Both these rebates require a 2-year commitment.
The Muziq phone falls under Sprint’s basic coverage. There are no special call or data plans unique to the Muziq phone.
It comes with a 64MB microSD, which can hold a dozen or so songs. Factor the cost of a bigger memory card into the price.
It has the looks of a RAZR and the music capability of an iPod. Two problems: low memory and weak peripheral functions. Hardcore music buffs will need a much more space to save their music and this Sprint phone won’t replace their favorite music device. That said, light listeners will love how easy the music player is to use.
• Easy interface
• Smooth music player
• Powerful speakers
• Weak Smartphone capabilities
• No-frills setup
• Low memory