The Motorola “Q”

The Motorola Q certainly knows how to make an impression. Ever since its introduction almost a year ago, this smart phone has generated a lot of buzz for its ultrathin form factor. Of course, Motorola generated a lot of the hype itself by touting the Q as the “thinnest QWERTY device in the world.” And now after a number of delays, the Q finally is here, and thankfully, it delivers in performance and style. It offers good call quality, an outstanding multimedia experience, and the tools to keep business users productive on the go, such as Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone Edition, EV-DO, and e-mail support. For the ultimate road warriors who need full functionality for editing documents from the road, however, they may want to opt for a Windows Mobile Pocket PC phone, such as the Palm Treo 700w. That said, however, it’ll be hard to resist the Q’s sexy packaging. Is this a good marketing strategy by Motorola? Definitely. For now, the Moto Q will be sold exclusively through Verizon Wireless for a fair price of $199.99, along with a two-year contract and a $100 instant rebate. Verizon’s BroadbandAccess service plans start at $79.99 for 450 anytime minutes with unlimited data usage. Motorola said it would start GSM/UMTS trials by the end of the year.

Design of
Motorola Q: 

Would there have been so much hype about the
Motorola Q if it didn’t rock such a sleek design? Probably not. The Q’s form factor is a huge–if not the main–drawing point of the device. Modeled after the Motorola Razr V3, the Q measures a slim 4.57 by 2.52 by 0.47 inches and is actually thinner than the Razr. It easily slips into a shirt or a pants pocket, and ladies, the Q certainly won’t demand too much space in your purse. The overall construction is solid, and it feels good in the hands, but if you haven’t used this type of convergence device before, you might have to go through a period of adjustment to get used to the extra width, as well as holding it up to your ear as a phone.

The Motorola Q‘s screen is a sight to behold. It measures 2.5 inches diagonally and displays 65,536 hues at a 320×240-pixel resolution. The color output and resolution match those of the Cingular 2125 and the T-Mobile SDA, but the extra screen real estate makes it that much more impressive; colors pop, and text and images are defined and sharp. The display is even readable in direct sunlight. You can customize the home screen with a number of preinstalled background images, or you can upload your own. You also have options for changing the backlight time, the color theme, and the font size. Be aware, however, that the Q doesn’t have a touch screen, and the display’s landscape orientation takes a bit of acclimation. More scrolling is involved when viewing Web pages and documents, but we grew accustomed to it after a few tries. The screen’s tendency to hold a lot of smudges and fingerprints irked us, however, so we had to clean it constantly. Even worse, Verizon doesn’t package the device with a protective case or a screen chammy, so those would be worthy investments.

Because the Motorola Q lacks a touch screen, you must use a set of controls below the display and along the right spine to navigate through the menus and to launch apps. First, below the screen, there are two soft keys, the Send and End buttons for phone calls, a Home shortcut, a Back key, and a five-way navigation toggle. Taking more design cues from the Razr, the Q has a sleek layout for its keys, but since they’re set flush with the phone’s surface, you’ll want to make sure to press each button firmly to register the action. Easier to use are the scrollwheel (pushing in the jog dial will act as a Select button) and a Back key on the right side–very reminiscent of controls on a BlackBerry.

The integrated QWERTY keyboard went through a couple of iterations during the
Motorola Q‘s design period, but we’re pretty happy with the results. The bubbly keys have a rubbery feel to them, so they’re incredibly tactile. And whereas the Treo’s keyboard feels a bit cramped, the Q’s has a spacious layout. Motorola also incorporates a camera and a speakerphone-activation button into the keyboard; both are located on the bottom-right side, just to the right of the spacebar. Our only complaint would be that the backlighting is dim for typing in darker environments 

The back of the Motorola Q houses the camera lens, the flash, and the stereo speakers. The battery is removable, and an extended cell is available for purchase, although it will add just 0.1 inch of bulk. On the left spine, you’ll find the infrared port, a mini USB port, and a Mini SD card slot. One minor note about the last item: It’s protected by an attached cover, but the rubber is pretty inflexible, so it took us a few attempts at prying it open. It might help to have nails or to use some kind of edge to uncover the expansion slot. Finally, a 2.5mm headset jack is located on top of the device. Disappointingly, Verizon is stingy with the included accessories. The Motorola Q comes packaged with only a power adapter, a USB cable, a holster, installation CDs, and user guides. Optional accessories, such as a desktop cradle, Bluetooth stereo headphones, and GPS receivers, are available for purchase through Motorola and third-party providers. 

 Features of
Motorola Q 

The Motorola Q‘s features aren’t as revolutionary as its design. That’s not to say the Q lacks functionality, but it doesn’t offer anything that the other Windows Mobile smart phones don’t have. As we mentioned earlier, the Moto Q runs Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone Edition, which means you won’t get the full Mobile Office Suite–no Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, or PowerPoint Mobile.  Instead, the Q comes preloaded with Picsel Viewer so that you can view but not edit said files; the app also lets you open PDFs. The device has 128MB of flash memory and 64MB of RAM, with roughly 60MB of user-accessible memory. If you plan on carrying a lot of work documents or multimedia files, do yourself a favor and get a Micro SD card, as none are included in the box. 

 

For your e-mail needs, you get Outlook Mobile so that you can synchronize your messages, your contacts, calendar, and tasks. Using the included USB cable and ActiveSync 4.1, we had no trouble syncing all our Outlook files with the
Motorola Q. The Q can also wirelessly sync with your Hotmail account and up to eight POP3 e-mail accounts. Business users will be pleased that Motorola has worked with Good Technology to deliver push e-mail capabilities to the Q via GoodLink. The functionality is available immediately for Microsoft Exchange users, with support for IBM Domino/Lotus Notes coming this summer. In addition, Verizon offers its own wireless e-mail solution through VZEmail. Motorola and Microsoft are working on a ROM upgrade that will bring the features of the Windows Mobile Messaging and Security Feature Pack to the Q. Microsoft would not give a specific time frame as to when we’d see the upgrade other than “soon,” but it will be available to customers as a free download.

The Moto Q also supports text, multimedia, and instant messaging.   Wireless connections come in the form of Bluetooth 1.2, EV-DO (backward compatible with 1xRTT), and infrared but no Wi-Fi. Again, we realize there’s an argument that EV-DO eliminates the need for Wi-Fi, but coverage can be limited outside of large and midsize metropolitan areas, so it would be nice to have that Wi-Fi option. Still, the support for 3G cellular technology means you can enjoy broadbandlike speeds on the Q, averaging around 400Kbps to 700Kbps, so you get faster downloads of data, e-mail, and attachments. In addition, the integrated Bluetooth opens up the door for communicating with wireless headsets (including a stereo Bluetooth profile), car kits, and other peripherals, such as GPS receivers and Bluetooth-enabled laptops. Unlike with the Palm Treo 700p, Verizon will not support dial-up networking capabilities via Bluetooth on the Q.  When Motorola and Verizon announced the official availability of the Q, they made a point of calling out its “phone first” mantra. As such, the mobile offers a duplex speakerphone, voice dialing, smart dialing, and vibrate and flight modes. The Q’s phone book is limited only by the available memory, and each entry can hold up to 12 phone numbers, three e-mail addresses, a home and a work address, a job title, and more. For caller-ID purposes, you can assign a contact to a category or pair it with one of 31 polyphonic ring tones or a photo. 

Speaking of photos, the Motorola Q has a 1.3-megapixel camera with video-recording capabilities. You can take still shots in five resolutions (160×120, 176×144, 320×240, 640×480, and 1,280×1,024), and we like that the 6X digital zoom is available for use even at the highest resolution. You also get a flash, a self-timer, a burst mode, and brightness and white-balance adjustments. There are light editing options available too, including rotate and crop. In video mode, you have a choice of three quality settings–126×96, 160×120, and 176×144–and while you get brightness and white-balance options, the zoom is not available. Once you’re done with your masterpieces, you can share your photos with others via Bluetooth, multimedia message, or e-mail; view them in a slide show; or save them as wallpaper. Motorola wouldn’t confirm or deny a cameraless version of the Moto Q but did say that this is just the first of a family of devices.  If you would rather view other people’s videos instead of recording your own, there’s Windows Media Player 10 Mobile for all your multimedia needs. A number of popular audio and video formats–AAC, MP3, WAV, WMA, MPEG-4, and WMV, to name a few–are supported, and if you have TV shows recorded on your Windows Media Center PC, you can transfer them to the Motorola Q and enjoy it on the handset’s great screen (see Performance for more). Motorola also said the Q will work with the Sling Media Slingbox. Despite the EV-DO capability, however, the Q does not support Verizon’s multimedia V Cast service. Some final features of the Motorola Q worth mentioning are Memory Manager, Task Manager, a preloaded help and quick-start guide, and two standard games (Bubble Breaker and Solitaire). There is, of course, a vast library of third-party apps that you can add to the Q, including Virtual Earth Mobile, AvantGo, and Fizz Traveller. 

Performance of Motorola Q

We tested the dual-band Motorola Q (CDMA 850/1900; EV-DO) in San Francisco using Verizon’s network, and call quality was generally good. On our end, conversations were mostly clear, although on a couple of occasions, we noticed some background hiss and muffled sound quality. Callers said they could hear us fine most of the time but also reported some crackling–nothing too bad. On the other hand, speakerphone quality was excellent. We had absolutely no problems whatsoever carrying on a discussion; volume was more than adequate even in loud environments, and our friends said they couldn’t even tell we were on speakerphone. We also had no problems pairing the Q with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset or the Motorola HT820 headphones.

 Web browsing on the Motorola Q was fairly smooth and painless, thanks to the EV-DO support. Graphics-intensive sites such as CNET.com took a bit longer to upload, but it was definitely quicker than with non-3G mobiles. What really blew us away, however, was the multimedia experience. We transferred several videos to the device, including a music video and an episode of Family Guy, and we had a blast watching them on the Q. The sharpness of the video on the Q was amazing, especially compared to the Treo 700p, with which we couldn’t even get through a whole video because the picture was so blurry. Also, listening to music was top-notch, thanks to the dual stereo-quality speakers. Even when we placed the Q on a desk with the speakers facedown, we had no problems hearing the audio. The Moto Q‘s 1.3-megapixel camera took some of best pictures we’ve seen from a camera phone, producing defined lines and good color. The flash also did an adequate job of illuminating pictures taken in dark environments. We experienced a slight lag in response time when launching the camera, as well as with other apps, but it’s not a deal breaker. 

The Motorola Q is rated for 4 hours of talk time, which we were able to achieve in our testing, and up to four days of standby time. We’ll report back soon on the results of our standby battery test. According to FCC radiation tests, the Q has a digital SAR rating of 1.11 watts per kilogram.

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One Comment on “The Motorola “Q””

  1. REAM Says:

    UR a gadget freak sunn!


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