As we mentioned earlier, the Motorola Q9m places a heavy emphasis on its multimedia capabilities. It works with Verizon's V Cast Music Store. The service gives you access to major label artists and many of today's popular hits via over-the-air downloads, so you can get songs sent straight to your phone. The downfall is that it costs $1.99 per track, and though this price includes a simultaneous download to your PC as well, Sprint Music Store offers the same for 99 cents with a Power Vision pack. To be fair, you can get the same $0.99 rate with V Cast if you download songs directly to your PC. Of course, you'll then have to go through the extra step of transferring tracks from your computer to the Q9m via USB cable or a Mini SD card. At this time, the Moto Q9m will not support V Cast videos.
The Motorola Q9m is EV-DO capable so you'll be able to enjoy faster song downloads with data speeds of as fast as 2.4Mbps, though you'll average closer to 300Kbps to 600Kbps. Bluetooth 2.0 is also on board with support for the A2DP profile, so you can connect to stereo Bluetooth headsets--always a plus, particularly for a multimedia-centric device such as the Q9m. You can also use Bluetooth for wireless headsets, hands-free kits, wireless file transfers, and dial-up networking. Unfortunately, there is no integrated Wi-Fi, but you can add this capability with a Wi-Fi SDIO card.
Of course, as a Windows Mobile smart phone, the Moto Q9m comes equipped with Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, supporting a number of popular audio and video formats--AAC, MP3, WAV, WMA, MPEG-4, and WMV, to name a few. If you have TV shows recorded on your Windows Media Center PC, you can transfer them to your device for on-the-go viewing. Onboard memory is 64MB of RAM and 128MB of built-in Flash memory, but you should be able to carry a nice size library of music and videos by taking advantage of the expansion slot. Finally, there is an Audio Enhancement utility found under Start > Accessories where you can tweak the sound settings for the phone speaker as well as for your headset.
Disappointingly, the Motorola Q9m doesn't get an upgrade in the camera category. It's still equipped with a 1.3-megapixel lens like its predecessor's while other recent smart phones such as the HTC Cavalier S630 are sporting 2-megapixel cameras. If it's any consolation, the Q9m now offers a full-screen viewfinder rather than a small window for capturing your image. There's a built-in flash and a 6x zoom. There are five resolution options, three shooting modes, and brightness and white-balance settings. In video mode, there are only three quality settings, but you can adjust the brightness and white balance as well. Picture quality was OK. The images were sharp, but colors lacked richness and vibrancy.
Now, despite all the multimedia focus, Motorola admits that the Q9m's heart and soul is still in the messaging and voice features. The Q9m now runs Windows Mobile 6 Standard Edition, so it supports Microsoft's Direct Push Technology out of the box for real-time corporate e-mail delivery and Outlook synchronization. You can also access your POP3 and IMAP4 accounts. An e-mail wizard walks you through the steps for configuring the Q9m to retrieve messages from these accounts, and it's really just a simple matter of entering your e-mail address and password. Unfortunately, Verizon has stripped out Windows Live and Live Messenger from the smart phone to cut some costs.
As for other productivity apps, Motorola made the conscious choice to go with DataViz's Documents to Go Office Suite rather than Microsoft's Office Mobile Suite to give you the ability to not only view and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, but to enable you to create them as well. There's also a PDF viewer and Zip Manager. Other PIM apps include a File Manager, a task list, a memo pad, and a conversion tool. Two additional utilities that are quite helpful are the Memory Manager and Task Manager located under Start > System Tools, where you can check the status of used and free memory and close out of running applications to optimize performance.
Last, but not least, the Motorola Q9m's phone features include a duplex speakerphone, voice dialing and commands, smart dialing, three-way calling, and text and multimedia messaging. The Q's phone book is limited only by the available memory, and each entry can hold as many as 12 phone numbers, three e-mail addresses, addresses for home and work, a job title, and more. For caller-ID purposes, you can assign a contact to a category or pair it with any of 23 polyphonic ring tones or a photo.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 850/1900; EV-DO) Motorola Q9m in San Francisco using Verizon service, and call quality was generally good. We noticed a slight background hiss on our end, but audio sounded loud and clear. Our friends reported similar results, although they said we were a bit soft. We were also able to interact with our bank's automated voice response system with no problems. Speakerphone quality was excellent--almost better than the regular phone. There was plenty of volume and no distortion or static on either end of the conversation. We were able to pair the Q9m to both the Motorola H680 Bluetooth headset and the Motorola S9 Bluetooth active headphones with no problems.
Powered by the same 312MHz Intel processor and memory capacity of the original Motorola Q, the Q9m wasn't quite able to keep up with the demands of the new operating system or multimedia capabilities. Performance was sluggish a lot of time; even simple tasks such as switching Home screen views or launching a program took more than a few seconds when we had numerous applications open. . We were able to successfully sync our Outlook information with the Q9m using ActiveSync, and there were no glitches when transferring and working on various Office documents. The Web browsing experience was quite pleasant, thanks to Verizon's EV-DO network, as pages loaded quickly.
Multimedia performance was quite impressive. Compared to other smart phones we've tested, we noticed songs sounded richer and more full, thanks to the Q9m's dual speaker system. We were able to download several tracks from the V Cast service, and once again, the EV-DO speeds helped for a seamless experience. Video playback was smooth, with good synchronization between audio and picture. As one would expect, there was some pixilation but not bad for watching short clips. The only hiccup is that on a couple of occasions, the device could not read our Mini SD card, so we had to reinsert it.
The Motorola Q9m is rated for four hours of talk time and as long as eight days of standby time. In our battery tests, we were able to get eight hours of talk time on a single charge. According to FCC radiation tests, the Q9m has a digital SAR rating of 1.3 watts per kilogram.
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