So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Motorola SLVR L7
- Slim form factor, Well built, Memory card slot, MP3 Player, Included Bluetooth headset
- Menu system, Keypad design, Heavy, Paltry VGA camera, no iTunes support in Australia, Average battery life
The SLVR L7 is an admirable effort by Motorola to provide the same wow factor of the RAZR in a candybar format. A better quality camera and a long awaited update to the user interface and Motorola could well be onto something very special here.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
The current trend when it comes to mobile phones is an extremely thin form factor. Motorola kicked things off with the launch of the famous RAZR V3and they have continued to develop this with the new SLVR L7; but have they sacrificed usability for the sake of style?
Basically, the SLVR L7 is an improved version of the original RAZR, but in a candy bar form factor instead of the famous flip design. Measuring a remarkable 114mm x 49mm x 11.5 mm in size (which is narrower than a credit card) the SLVR L7 is even slimmer than the RAZR, and retains the similar chrome keypad of its predecessor. Add a fairly commendable display, a TransFlash memory card slot and the L7 starts to look like a very tasty option indeed.
Due to the thin chassis, Motorola has decided against the common all-plastic casing and instead opted for a metal finish, which gives the L7 a real quality feel about it. Unlike many other handsets these days, the L7 looks as if it could withstand some harsh treatment; we dropped it a couple of times and can pleasingly report that it does hold up very well indeed. The downside to this is that it is quite heavy to hold and does weigh down your pocket somewhat, but we'd take durability over featherweight in a heartbeat!
To retain this slim line design, Motorola were forced to use a flat style keypad and while this passes with flying colours in the looks department, we feel that it isn't very user friendly. We found ourselves having to press fairly hard on the keys for them to respond during SMS's and overall, messaging was slower than we are normally able to achieve on other handsets. Those with large fingers will be frustrated by the size; you'll definitely find yourself pressing the wrong keys more than once. We must say though, the blue backlit keypad looks glorious, especially if you're using the phone at night.
The L7 also turns heads with a 262K-color LCD screen which sports a resolution of 176 x 220 pixels. While it isn't the best display we've seen on a mobile phone, it is more than admirable; we just wish Motorola would use its full potential with a crisper menu system! Thankfully, they've kept it simple with the controls - a 5-way navigational keypad is surrounded by two soft keys, Menu and Answer and End Call keys.
Our main criticism of Motorola handsets is the user interface, which seems not to have been upgraded for a couple of years. Unfortunately it's still exactly the same on the L7, but the speed has improved. One of the major problems with the RAZR, was the speed of the interface, especially for SMS messaging, so we were pleased to see this has been improved. Still, the menu itself is screaming out for an upgrade; pixilated icons and text don't make for a pretty sight at all. The colour schemes can be changed to combat this problem, but this fix isn't an ideal solution.
Unfortunately, the L7 is let down by sporting a paltry 0.3 megapixel VGA camera. With an influx of multimedia features, including the Transflash slot, we can't understand the reason why Motorola have opted for such a poor quality camera. Perhaps it is due to the slim size of the unit, but in saying this, we expected at least a 1.3 megapixel camera. Still, the VGA does boast a 4x digital zoom, although you'll struggle to take a half decent snap whilst utlising this feature, so it's fairly useless in this sense.
Despite allowing the L7 to be used with iTunes (like the ROKR E1,) in the US, this hasn't been made available in Australia. Don't stress though; the iTunes/Motorola software wasn't what it was hyped up to be anyway, so you won't be missing out on much. To combat this problem, Motorola has pre-installed two music applications on the L7 so that we Aussies are also able to use the phone as an MP3 player. This is accessed by pressing up on the navigational pad and conveniently, you can browse through other sections of the phone while music is playing, a feature that Samsung has neglected to offer on their previous models. Overall though, the software isn't good enough to replace a dedicated MP3 player and you'll have to use the stock earbuds as well. Considering the included headset looks good but is uncomfortable and delivers poor audio quality, we feel that the MP3 player functionality could have been much improved.
Other features include support for SMS, MMS and email messaging with iTap input process, Quad-band and Bluetooth connectivity, a 128MB Transflash card and a H500 Bluetooth headset - all included in the package. Battery life is slightly below average with figures of 400 minutes talktime and 350 hours of standby time. With a fairly heavy use of Bluetooth and the music player, we found ourselves having to charge the L7 every second night. Unfortunately, the inaccurate battery life indicator doesn't help in this instance either.
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