Telstra Corporation Ltd F256

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Telstra Corporation Ltd F256
  • Telstra Corporation Ltd F256
  • Telstra Corporation Ltd F256
  • Telstra Corporation Ltd F256

Pros

  • Internet access with your PC or notebook, TransFlash card slot, Bluetooth, offers access to a range of Telstra BigPond services

Cons

  • Below average display, stubborn and small keypad and controls, flip design, no standard 3.5mm headphone jack

Bottom Line

Although it has some design issues, the F256 should appeal to those who are on a budget, but still want access to the BigPond range of services through the high-speed Next G network.

Would you buy this?

Telstra's latest budget Next G handset allows you to access the Internet on your PC using the handset as a modem. The F256 also offers a 1.3-megapixel camera, a TransFlash card slot and Bluetooth connectivity. Unfortunately, a lacklustre design, a below average display and poorly designed keypad are issues.

Manufactured by ZTE, the HSDPA-capable F256 is a prepaid handset, but its appeal lies in the fact that it offers full use of Foxtel by Mobile and BigPond services, including Sensis Search, BigPond Photos and WhereIs maps. We were impressed by broadband speeds, especially when streaming mobile TV; the F256 was swift and didn't suffer from any noticeable lag when using any of the Telstra services.

Using the F256 as a modem to access the Internet on a notebook was also a pleasing experience, with pages loading fairly quickly. Setup is effortless as you simply install the software and plug in the F256 via the included USB cable. As it's a prepaid handset, its only real use is for basic Internet browsing and checking e-mail though; streaming videos and downloading large files is out of the question, as the highest plan allows just 200MB of data usage. At $59 for the highest plan, the service is certainly not cheap, despite its convenience.

Despite the F256 offering access to a multitude of multimedia services, its performance leaves a lot to be desired. The 262k colour display has a very poor viewing angle and isn't as crisp or clear as we expected. It's fine for watching video while sitting at a desk, but the limited flip means holding it in your hand doesn't give you the best angle of the display. The keypad and controls are also a sour point; they are small, flat and require a firm press to activate, so messaging speeds are considerably slower than most other devices. The F256 supports standard SMS, MMS and e-mail messaging, all with T9 predictive text input.

The general user experience of the handset is positive. The animated main menu icons and a simple list format for submenus makes the F256 pretty easy to use.

The 1.3-megapixel camera with 2x digital zoom is average. Photos taken aren't ideal for anything more than a few happy snaps, though the rotating camera lens is a nice touch and allows the camera to double for use during video calls. An integrated MP3 player, and MP3 and polyphonic ringtones are other multimedia features, but the lack of a standard 3.5mm headphone jack means you'll have to use the poor quality headphones that are included.

The F256 has up to 64MB of allocated user memory but a TransFlash card slot allows up to 2GB of extra storage. It also boasts Bluetooth 1.2 with the A2DP Bluetooth profile, meaning you can wirelessly stream your music to a compatible set of Bluetooth headphones and avoid using the included ear buds. For wired connectivity, USB 2.0 provides adequate support, though it's proprietary rather than the standard mini-USB connection.

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