What I like: Great keypad, rugged design.
What I don't like: Design may be less than desirable for some.
There's definitely a market for rugged, Push to Talk devices. Not only does the Motorola Barrage meet that criteria, but it takes it one step further, as it's military-grade (810F certified). Able to withstand extreme temperatures, solar radiation, blowing dusts, salt fog, altitude, shock, vibration, and transit drops (not to mention one meter of water for up to 30 minutes), the device is perfect for the construction worker or soldier. But it's not without features that consumers will like - it sports a 2.2-inch display, microSD card slot, a music player with shortcut buttons, GPS, VZ Navigator, V CAST Music, Push to Talk, and a 2.0-megapixel camera. The external display offers 65,000 colors in a 1.6-inch package.
Keypad and Interface
I'm really impressed with the keypad on the Barrage. In addition to being completely rubberized, the keys are raised, making it easy to quickly type out a message or make a phone call. I've been working with QWERTY devices for so long that it's often hard for me to go back to regular phones - not the case with the Barrage. Within five minutes, I was back to text messaging at my old speeds. The Barrage ships with Verizon's stock user interface, and while it's somewhat boring, it's relatively easy to navigate. The phone comes with Bing, VZ Navigator, and My Verizon installed.
The Barrage sports a 2.0-megapixel camera, and in my testing, image quality was decent. There are certainly better alternatives on the market, but given this phone's target market, I don't see pictures as incredibly high on the priority list. The standard photo options are included in the camera: self-timer, a brightness control, color effects, white-balance settings, fun frames, a digital zoom, and three shutter sounds, along with a silent option. Video recording was mediocre; useful for a recording here and there, but nothing beyond that. While videos intended for transmission via MMS are limited in regards to time, you can shoot longer in standard mode (with a microSD card).
Reception and Data Connectivity
I've tested the Barrage in the Charlotte area, and call quality is excellent. I've always had success with Motorola devices, and the Barrage doesn't disappoint. In a known Verizon fringe area, I was able to get one bar of service, and calls were crystal clear. Speakerphone was quite loud as well. When testing in a busy coffee shop, my callers could hear me well. Since I have two Barrage devices in-hand, I was able to test the Push to Talk functionality. The feature worked well. I connected my Plantronics Voyager Pro Bluetooth headset to the Barrage without any trouble, and Bluetooth calling was flawless.
The Barrage is an EVDO Rev. A device, and data speeds were very good. The PhoneDog page loaded in about 40 seconds, and other data-intensive tasks (VZ Navigator, Bing search) loaded quickly. Granted, it's no smartphone, but for basic internet tasks, the Barrage does a great job.
The battery life was on par with devices in its class. With moderate use, I made it just over one day before the phone powered off. I'm still testing the battery numbers, but I can say this: it's not bad. Estimated talk time is 6.4 hours, whereas standby time is 22 days.
Check out some pictures below, and stay tuned for my full review!