To be honest, we were expecting a lot busier show! On the wireless front, there were only four announcements that actually capture our attention – Sony Ericsson W760, Motorola Z10 and E8 and Nokia N95 8GB US version. Everything else is just mid-range and low level uninteresting clutter…

Hopefully more new stuff will come out at the 3GSM Mobile World Congress and CTIA.

As Motorola has two of the four devices worth mentioning, we’ll start with them. Z10 is the successor of Z8, which is currently sold in Europe. We have not done a review on it, but had a pre-production unit for a while and overall not very impress with what it did. Kick-slider is interesting, but asides from that it did not offer anything that the competition didn’t have. Z10 is definitely not the same beast. Our first thoughts were … Moto, you must be kidding - another “kick-slider”? We dig the design idea when the Z8 was announced, but just upping the specs a little did not cut it…

Actually we were not exactly correct. The changes start from the materials used. Instead of the black-yellowish themes (target group 18-25), the metal bodied Z10 is definitely targeting the more mature audiences. The metal looks very much like stainless steel, but in actuality is some type of light-weight alloy. Not sure if because of new material, but the kick-slider is a lot easier to slide up and down. Even though the units on the floor were pre-production and by the time it hits the market this might change, the keypad was still difficult to press, just as it was with the Z8.

According to Motorola, the Z8 was about video viewing, while the Z10 is about video creation. We usually are quite skeptical when a device is label in such way, but after we become acquainted with Z10 video features, we actually agree with Motorola! The phone’s video edition capabilities are quite impressive and include numerous transitions between the videos, subtitles creation (including background and font size options), voice notations, actual video cutting, ability to remove the audio stream from a shot video and substitute it with another sound and many more. Of course, the phone software cannot compete in any way with a professional stand alone PC one, but is the best we’ve seen in a mobile device. Its capabilities would be sufficient enough for most non-professional tasks which most consumers will require.

For video playback, the phone does not support DIVX straight out of the box, but the user has to use the bundles PC software which converts DIVX movies to MPEG4 on the fly. For music playback, A2DP wireless stereo Bluetooth is available. As the Z10 is not music oriented, 3.5mm jack and stereo speakers are missing.

Hands-on with Motorola MOTO Z10:

The other selling point which Motorola tried to push is the fast camera. Again, we will agree with them about the speed. It literally took about 1 second for it to start after the dedicated camera button is pushed. Focusing was about average and depending on the scene took about 2 seconds. Saving the images is where usually most time is lost, and here thanks to the special flash memory used, the speeds are very impressive. The actual camera resolution is also updated from 2 to 3.2 mega pixels. Strangely, even though the Z10 is all about “video creation”, the actual video capture resolution is not VGA (640x480), but only QVGA (320x240).

The extended video editing software is great, but equally important is the ability to actually upload your great works online. For that reason the Z10 comes preloaded with the free Shozu application which allows you to setup your flicker, YouTube and other social media accounts and as soon as you are ready with your video or picture content, they are uploaded automatically to the sites you want.

For those who are interested, the Z10 is the first device to run on the latest UIQ 3.2. The list of new features and improvements is quite lengthy and includes push email, IM, progressive downloads and many others.

The music counterpart of the Z10 was also announced at the CES. The E8 is the successor of the E6 which was introduced a while ago. Gone are the touch sensitivity display and a new unique keyboard and “fast-scroll” wheel is introduced. Again, the differences are quite many and we will not compare the two devices, but will only talk about the E8.

The first time E8 saw the light of day was in Fergie video clip a few months ago.  According to Moto that was intentional and designed to create media buzz around the device.

As seen from the pictures, when the display and keypad backlit are off, the whole surface is deep glossy black. If you are familiar with Sony Ericsson K850 or K810 for example, when the camera mode is engaged, several icons light up on the keyboard to indicate the new functionality of several keys – for example flash on/off. On the E8, this concept is taken to the next level and actually the keys on the keypad have different functions depending on which mode the phone is – standard, camera or music player. 

The keypad area is completely flush and its surface is touch sensitive. Usually in such case, most manufacturers create some form of haptic feedback. The Moto implementation is also the same, but the way they have done it is almost feels like a real key is pressed. To really appreciate it, we were demoed two phones – one with the haptic on, and one off. 

Another novelty is the fast-scroll wheel. It very much resembles iPOD wheel, but is not full circle. To be operated, one has to slide its thumb over it. Used mainly where scrolling in long lists is required, it is not the only such method available. In the middle of the circle is the regular 5-way D-pad. Even after short usage, we really appreciated the increase comfort and speed it offered. In contract to the iPOD, if you want to continuously scroll, all you have to do is to hold your finder in the left or right end positions. If the end of a list is reached, again in contrast to iPOD, the software starts scrolling from the beginning.
Everything else is pretty much the regular stuff we expect to see in any contemporary device today.  3.5MM jack, 2GB built-in memory plus microSD slot which allows additional 4GB to be included are available.

In addition to the music and video dedicated E8 and Z10, Motorola also announced a couple of low-end GSM phones. The W230 and W270 are identical in their specifications but the first is a candybar while the latter is clamshell, with indicators on the front. They feature 1.6” 128x128 pixels display, FM radio and microSD, which can store songs for the music player. Both will be available in two variants: 850/1900 MHz or 900/1800 MHz, and the supported African languages hint that these phones are targeted to the developing countries.

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