Motorola Q

GCN Lab Review

Motorola Q

Pros: Sleek form factor, built-in camera

Cons: Difficult to navigate, expensive

Price: $350

Performance: A

Features: A

Ease of use: C+

Comfort: A

Value: B

Motorola is close to having a great smart phone in its arsenal, and we suspect the next generation of the Q will be among the best available. But for now, we have a few reservations.

The Q has plenty of smarts. It's just missing an intuitive navigational interface, which the BlackBerry 8700g and Palm Treo have. The Q employs a four-directional control pad with a center-select button and right-side pinwheel to guide users through its Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.2.2 operating system.

Those aids are augmented by a two-button navigation system that sits below the high-resolution 320-by-240-pixel LCD screen.

The problem with all this is that the user has to call on all three modes of navigation when executing functions as basic as retrieving and replying to e-mail or surfing the Internet.

This translates into a steep learning curve and significant headaches when trying to perform simple tasks. We want to send e-mail, not learn a secret handshake.

And it's unforgiving. For example, when inputting a ZIP code into the device to access the local weather, make one mistake and you have to redo the entire process.

Why? Because the Q is missing an easy-to-find character delete button. Yet there seem to be several back buttons that take you to the previous screen'we counted three. The Q would be better if it had a touch screen and stylus to complement the pinwheel, and removed the useless four-directional, center collection of buttons.

The Q provides average signal reception and voice clarity over the Verizon network.

But it comes with several desirable bells and whistles, including a decent 1.3-megapixel camera, Bluetooth capabilities, voice recognition, 128MB of internal flash memory, 64MB of internal SDRAM and a Mini SD card slot for extended memory.

Perhaps the best feature is the slim 4.3-by-2.5-by-0.45-inch package, which makes the Q easy to carry and use.

Although the Q's list price of $350 makes it one of the more expensive smart phones available, its features and performance make it a good fit for any agency user with enough time on their hands to get past the Q's navigation idiosyncrasies.

Motorola Corp., Schaumburg, Ill., (847) 576-5000, www.motorola.com

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