Mini Review of the Ericsson T66

The following is a mini review of the Ericsson T66, based upon a 2-hour test session courtesy of Andrew Chan. Because it is not a full test, I canít provide you with my usual in-depth opinion of the phone. However, I believe that I do cover most of the important issues.

Last Updated: 24-Apr-2002

Before reading this review, please read Some Thoughts on Phone Reviewing.

To begin with, the T66 is a very small phone. According to information I found on the Internet, the model weighs in at only 59 grams, making it one of the smallest and lightest GSM phones on the market.

Despite its small size however, I found it reasonably comfortable against my ear, and the keypad was surprisingly easy to use with my big right thumb. However, stylistically the phone is a box. Although styling of Ericsson phones has traditionally been somewhat boxy, they looked as though they were getting away from that in the T68. The T66 unfortunately, sticks with tradition.

Unlike other small models on the market, this one appears to be aimed at the lower end. It doesnít contain anywhere near the number gee-whiz features found in the slightly bigger T68. While I didnít go over the phone thoroughly, I found the following features missing from the T66 that were available in the T68: GPRS, Bluetooth, infrared, voice dialing, color screen, MMS, the newly improved menus, and voice recorder. Iím sure that list is actually longer, but I think you get the point. The T66 is definitely not a high-end phone.

It includes the usual bevy of standard Ericsson ring tones, and you can create your own melodies as well. The ringer is surprisingly loud for such a small phone, and vibrator is equally impressive. The phone includes a Profiles concept similar to the one pioneered by Nokia on their 6190, but you cannot choose the ringtone for each profile. Only one ringtone may be selected globally.

I canít comment on battery life based on such a limited exposure to the phone, but considering Ericssonís reputation for building phones that keep going and going I would imagine it has pretty decent numbers in this regard. Like other Ericsson phones, it gives you a wild estimate of the amount of power remaining in the battery, and during the test period it was assuring me it had at least 100 hours of standby time left (though I wasnít sure of the charge state of the battery).

As you know, my two biggest concerns with any phone are its RF performance, and audio quality. Testing those two things was easy, since I met with Andrew at Square One in Mississauga. There are a number of places in that mall where one can attenuate the signal gradually and make comparisons between two phones simultaneous. I of course used my current standard-bearer, the Motorola P280 as my reference.

In terms of audio quality, I was actually quite pleased. Although the earpiece lacked the depth and tonal balance of the P280, it was certainly worthy of praise. It had some noticeable low-end, and the tonal balance, while slightly shrill, was about as good as one could expect from such a small device.

Outgoing audio quality was similar, in that it was nice, but it could be better. I did find that Ericssonís attempt at active noise suppression (which seems standard on all their GSM offerings) wasnít quite up to the quality of other implementations. Two test recordings were made while sitting in a noisy part of the mall, one with the T66 and the other with my P280. The T66 mangled the outgoing voice slightly, and the background sounded somewhat like a washy mess (compared to the P280).

RF performance was along the same lines, which means it didnít match the superior capabilities of the P280, but it did very well for an Ericsson phone with no visible antenna. While I didnít have any other Ericsson models to compare with directly, my seat-of-the-pants feeling was that the T66 managed to out-perform most of the other newly released Ericssons, including the T68 and T39. It certainly out-performs the Motorola V66.

Because it was such a tiny phone, it begged to be placed in a shirt pocket. I therefore performed in-pocket tests to see if the phone suffered from any RF degradation as a result of being in close proximity to my body. The phone passed this test with flying colors, and appeared not to suffer at all from close body contact (so long as the front of the phone faced inward).

Handoff performance was about average for an Ericsson phone. I tested this by driving around the perimeter of Square One. There are two Microcell Connexions cell sites in close proximity to the mall, thus ensuring plenty of handoffs during the drive. The disruption in the audio caused by handoffs was not appreciably different than I have noticed on other Ericsson offerings.

So in conclusion, I would have to say that the Ericsson T66 is an excellent alternative to the small Nokia phones, especially the 8290. It provides better than average audio and RF characteristics, and it is small and light for those who just have to have a tiny phone. I doubt fashion-conscious buyers will think much of it however, due to its boxy shape and lack of any real styling.

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