So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Motorola MOTO U9
ROK-on with Fergie
- Thin and lightweight design, external display, touch-sensitive music controls, animated screensavers, A2DP Bluetooth
- No 3.5mm headphone jack, no microSD card included, sluggish user interface
The MOTO U9 is a nicely designed handset, but given it's marketed as a music phone, the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack is an annoying omission.
Price$ 249.00 (AUD)
Marketed by pop star Fergie and aimed at women buyers, Motorola's MOTOROKR U9 is a budget music handset with plenty of style. Despite its fairly low price tag, this handset boasts a thin and lightweight frame, touch-sensitive external music controls, and a 2-megapixel camera with digital zoom.
The design of the U9 is similar to the now superseded PEBL. Sleek curves, a completely flat interior, a glossy exterior and a flip design make this an attractive handset, and its compact size ensures it fits comfortably in your hand.
Flat keypads have long been a pet hate of ours. Although the MOTOROKR U9 continues this design trend, this model is slightly more tolerable than many other examples. The handset's keys are well spaced and clearly separated, making messaging and general navigation a more pleasant experience. Aside from the keypad, the U9 features a five-way navigational pad, two selection buttons, answer and end call keys and dedicated keys for music and clear.
The U9's external display is completely camouflaged when not in use, but can be brought to life when used in conjunction with the phone's built-in music player. It also displays caller ID information; you can use the external volume controls to reject incoming calls, or flip open the handset to answer them. In direct sunlight, the external display can be somewhat difficult to view.
The MOTOROKR U9 is clearly marketed as a music phone, but we can't but help feel disappointed with this aspect of the handset. For starters, the lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack is a huge oversight, despite the included micro-USB headphones being of reasonable quality. Aside from the touch-sensitive external music controls and external screensavers, the U9 is fairly standard in terms of playing music. Sound quality is reasonable, though not outstanding, and options are limited — shuffle and repeat modes, a spatial audio setting and a 10-preset equaliser are the extent of audio tweaking you'll be able to perform.
Users can manage their music through Windows Media Player, and a microSD card slot allows you to add up to 4GB of storage. Unfortunately, Motorola doesn't bundle a card in the sales package, although you do get a USB cable for file transfer and headphones that double as a hands-free headset. The A2DP Bluetooth profile is also present, meaning you can wirelessly stream your music from the handset to a compatible pair of Bluetooth headphones or speakers.
The user interface of the MOTOROKR U9 is similar to most other Motorola handsets; it's relatively straightforward and easy to use. The main menu is a simple 3x3 grid layout with labelled icons, while most submenus are in a simple list format. Unfortunately, a common trait of many Motorola interfaces is their slow speed, and the U9 continues this trend. Applications are sluggish to open, scrolling quickly through long lists is tiresome, and general navigation is slow.
The U9 is only a standard quad-band GSM phone, but call quality is reasonable. A 2-megapixel camera with digital zoom is included, but its quality is understandably poor and can't be recommended for anything more than a few happy snaps. Other features include access to Motorola's ARIA Charts (allowing you to download the best-selling tunes on the Australian charts), SMS, MMS and email messaging with iTap predictive text input, and a range of PIM features, including calendar, alarm clock, world clock, calculator and task list.
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