If texting teens are the generation of the future, then Verizon Wireless' new Motorola Rival phone is the perfect device to march them forward.
Built almost solely to cater to the needs of excessive texters, the Rival pairs a tad of touch screen technology with the comfort of a full, slide-out keypad. The size of the phone as well as the neatly packed keyboard feels a bit too compact for adult hands, suggesting that its target audience revolves around teens who feel jazzier with a smaller device and vie for a more instantaneous method of text messaging than T9Word. Another indication that the phone is text-centric -- the keyboard is equipped with a dedicated button to create a new text message, and hot key to pull up the instant messaging options (these include AOL, Yahoo, and Windows Live). The Rival simply seeks to make texting its prime form of communication.
What makes the Rival different than predecessors it its messaging section, which is set up differently than most phones. There are no "inbox" and "sent" sections; instead, users have the option of organizing their messages by either chronological order or by sectioning the texts chronologically by contact -- "iPhone style". The latter allows users to revisit the conversation as it happened, rather than having to skip back and forth between inbox and sent to recall precisely who said what to whom. This set up is more user friendly to the instant messaging generation.
Perhaps a downfall to Motorola's push to attract a younger audience is that the device lacks complexity in most other aspects. Though it is a touch screen, the user only has access to two or three touch buttons at a time; scrolling and searching are done the old-fashioned button way, suggesting that it shouldn't be categorized as a touch phone at all.
Though it lacks in complexity, the Motorola Rival gets point for artistic pizzazz--just as an example, the phone received by Hispanic Business was accented in shiny purple. The wallpaper options are surprisingly appealing -- no "bold corporate logo"-based backgrounds here. The built-in camera boasts the option of adding a "fun frame" to photos, similar to what you'd create in a shopping mall sticker photo booth. This, and the phone's ability to change photo color effects, further fit with the "for teen" feel of the device.
And, of course, the text interface and options have a cutesy demeanor as well. Fast-fingered typers have the option of inserting "emoticons" into a text message, meaning choosing one of nine colorful faces.
Essentially Verizon's new Motorola Rival is a succinctly organized phone built for fun, not for business. Its plastic composition does not feel especially heavy duty, though it's not cheap, fragile, or junky either. The only oddity that the user may experience, depending on personal preference, is the slide-out keyboard, which comes out from the left side.
On the whole, Verizon and Motorola will no doubt score some points with the avid texter looking for a fun gadget rather than a portable planner. (Did I mention it comes with a free PacMan trial?)
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