Monday, May 22, 2006

JupiterResearch: Motorola Launches the Q - First Take

Michael Gartenberg blogs at the Jupiter Analyst Weblogs and shares his thoughts about the Motorola (MOT) Q, which he has been testing. He notes that "when you first see the Q, the first thing you notice is the form. It looks a little like a Blackberry that's gone on a major diet. This thing is thin, even thinner than the RAZR (about the same thickness as the SLVR). It's a gorgeous device, but it clearly looks more like a data device than a traditional phone."

Gartenberg believs the Q offers "somewhat of a different usage model. As it's Smartphone based, there's no touch screen and pretty much everything on the device can be controlled on handed. It does, however, have a full keyboard so it's very suitable for more date intensive tasks, such as email. Because of the small form factor, it's quite suitable for use as a phone as well. In short, your decision for what device to find just got a lot more difficult." Regarding his experinece playing with the Q, he writes:

My experience with the Q has been very positive. Because it's so thin, I had no problem slipping it into a shirt pocket and totally not noticing it was there, hard to make that claim about any other keyboard device. Running on Verizon's EV-DO network, the performance is better than any other Smartphone OS based device I've used making for blazing fast email, web browsing and streaming media (imagine the Slingbox client running on this device). Motorola has also added a RIM style navigation wheel and back button so Blackberry users will feel right at home. Media functions are enhanced with two small stereo speakers and a full Bluetooth implementation (minus DUN) works very well for sync, wireless headsets and even supports the newer wireless stereo profile. Battery life is good but it's tougher to define what's considered good with a device like this. If the device is designed well, users will use it not only for voice but for all the other functions, all which tend to drain the battery life. My personal test is will a device get me through a full day of heavy use of different features and the answer was the Q did just that. I was able to get through a full day of use of both phone and data functions using them all intensely. A more moderate user might make it through two days of use.
Some of the issues Gartenberg has with the Q is:
First, in order to make the device work in terms of form, Motorola went for a landscape version of the screen at 320x240. That means a lot of applications will need to be updated in order to work properly. The good news is that most apps just worked fine out of the box, the bigger issue were with games, some just refused to run. Other apps had cosmetic issues that made working with them less optimal. Because of the landscape nature, you'll also see less items in you inbox and calendar views than you would on a device like the HTC Star Trek. One noticeable absence on the platform are native Office viewers from Microsoft. On a high speed device, optimized for email, that's a necessity. Fortunately, Motorola provides a solution bundling in the Picsel Office viewer that lets you browse Office docs and PDF files. It's not a perfect solution, and it requires far too much scrolling and zooming, especially for Word and PDFs but it gets the job done.
Gartenberg concludes:
So who's going to buy the Q? Well, Motorola and Verizon have done well to price it at $199 (with rebate and contract). For those looking for a high end smart phone, the Q is a great value. A lot comes down to what form factor works best for you. If you prefer a more traditional phone form factor, and don't care about a QWERTY keyboard, there are probably other devices in the market that are better suited. On the other hand, if you're looking for a keyboard based device (with high speed connectivity), your choice just got a lot harder. We know that users today are looking for high tech but also care a lot about form factor. I suspect that the Q is going to have a lot of appeal not only to the Blackberry crowd, but a lot of consumers are going to be taking a close look at this one as well.