Moto has been going through some hard times and getting a lot of doomsday press, but their booth at CTIA in Las Vegas looked anything but dreary. Motorola might not have come up with a successor the RAZR (no easy task) but they have some nice hardware including the Z9 just announced for AT T, featuring 3G, GPS and high class good looks; a lime green Motorola Q9c for Alltel (also available in licorice for those of you who don't celebrate St. Paddy's Day); Windows Mobile 6.1 running on the Motorola Q9h (the GSM version-- aka Q9 Global on AT&T) and the ROKR E8 that was first shown at CES earlier this year.
The ROKR E8 should be out soon and is a unique and cool photo. It uses haptics (a technology that makes a touch screen vibrate to provide feedback when you touch it). We've seen this on the LG Voyager on Verizon and a few other phones. But the E8 uses it not on the display but rather the area below where the number pad and other controls reside. When the phone is off, it's a shiny black surface with no numbers, letters or anything else. Turn it on and the number pad appears. Press a number and it feels kinda like a button being depressed and not the generic buzzy vibrate on haptic displays. Very cool stuff. Switch to the music player and the numbers disappear. Music playback controls appear in their play, again with tactile feedback.
Besides looking absolutely beautiful and wielding some mega-cool technology, the ROKR is of course a music phone with an MP3, AAC, WMA and RealAudio player. It's got 2 gigs of storage and a microSD card slot that's compatible with SDHC high capacity cards. There's A2DP for Bluetooth stereo, airplane mode and a full HTML browser. Our only complaint? It's a serious fingerprint magnet and you'll need a cloth to keep it looking pretty.
Alltel is now carrying the Motorola Q9c Windows Mobile Standard smartphone, and you've got your choice of black or green, making this the first time we've seen a Q looking playful.
Other news on the Motorola Q9 front include the upcoming Windows Mobile 6.1 uprade. Moto showed us the Q9h (AT&T flavor) looking slick and stable running the new OS. AT&T decides when to let the updater out the door, and we don't have a firm date. But the enhancements are definitely worth the hour or so it might take to update your Q9.
The new WinMo 6.1 Today screen looks cool and is actually more useful and user friendly:
-------------------- Lisa Gade Editor in Chief, MobileTechReview