Motorola
The all new RAZR² cell phone adds all sorts of new features in a new slimmer design.
By Columnist
msnbc.com
updated 5/16/2007 7:30:01 AM ET 2007-05-16T11:30:01

Motorola needed a big boost.

Cell phones sales have sagged since everyone and their sister bought a Moto RAZR phone — once the coolest, exclusive, super-expensive handset on the planet. Not much had been done to update on the now ubiquitous phone since its release in 2004.

In New York City today, Motorola announced a completely revamped RAZR² (that’s pronounced razor-two) as part of a revamped line of innovative new phones.

There are some blockbusters in Moto’s new lineup, but the biggest news is their RAZR².  Based on the world’s favorite cellular phone, this new handset is smaller, thinner, and much smarter than the original.

Motorola
The new RAZR² is slightly slimmer than its older sibling.
RAZR² has been given a new lease on life. Motorola has added a slew of new features to make the famous design a lot more than a pretty face. First of all, the new RAZR is physically two millimeters thinner, has a seamless case with a vacuum metal finish (you have to see it to believe it) as well as chemically hardened glass for the inner (2.2-inch) and new larger outer (2.0-inch) screens. That new outer display has something called “touch-sensitive vibrating music keys” to control the MP3 player.

RAZR² also has a full HTML browser, WMA, MP3, AAC music player, high speed USB port, a 2 megapixel camera for still pictures and videos, a miniSD memory card slot, USB 2.0, Bluetooth and a feature called "CrystalTalk" which automatically filters out noisy surroundings and boost the volume so you can hear in difficult surroundings.

There will be three new RAZR²’s released this summer: a GSM/GPRS version, a 3G HSDPA/UMTS/GSM version for download speeds approaching 3.6mbps (very, very fast), and a CDMA/EVDO version for the U.S.  Prices and carriers have yet to be announced.

The entertainer

Motorola
Not only is the Z8 loaded with features,  it also tilts the microphone towards you when you slide open the case.
Another major-big blockbuster featured today was the Z8 video/audio masterpiece first announced at 3GSM in Barcelona back in February.  Motorola is calling the Z8 their "media monster". 

It too works on the super-fast HSDPA/UMTS wireless networks currently in use in Europe and the Far East — so fast that compressed-music files can download to your handset in 3 seconds. Add to that Z8’s video capture and playback capabilities at 30 frames per second and you have a formidable portable device. In Motorola's brief demonstration of Z8 video, it looked very smooth and clean — not what we’ve come to expect from a cell phone.

Motorola will ship the phone with mobile TV access to streaming content from CNN, BSkyB and others.  Moto claims up to 32GB of expandable memory (depending on the market) and the use of microSD cards makes the Z8, according to Motorola, the ultimate portable media machine.

For me, the best new feature is the Z8’s canted body when opened.  Not only does the keypad slide out from the bottom — but it actually bends the bottom of the phone to get it closer to your mouth. It’s a very, very clever design.

The Z8 is being shipped with "The Bourne Identity" movie pre-loaded on a 512MB microSD card, along with the ROKR S9 stereo Bluetooth headset. It will be awhile before we get to see the Z8 for sale from an American cellular carrier.

Speaking of ROKR (pronounced “rocker” — not Roker as in the Today Show’s Al Roker) there’s a new model in that line too. The ROKR Z6 is designed to be a cell phone and a great portable music playback device. 

With dedicated music keys on the outside, high speed USB 2.0 connectivity, microUSB card support (up to 2GB cards now – 4GB cards later this year) and stereo Bluetooth capability, the ROKR is aimed squarely at Apple’s upcoming iPhone. We'll have to wait and see before conmmenting further.

The Z6 is slated to roll out in Europe and Asia later this year. We may see it here in the U.S. too — although Motorola didn't specify.

New Q

Motorola
The improved Motorola Q smartphone features a new keyboard outside and much faster insides.
Finally, Motorola’s smartphone, the Q gets a high-speed boost as well. Based on the newly improved Windows Mobile 6 operating system, the new Moto Q8 (GSM/EDGE) and Q9 (HSDPA) join the original CMDA Q. The company has sold nearly one million Q phones to date — and hopes to sell a lot more with the addition of new models that work in countries other than the U.S. 

The star of the line will definitely be the 3G Q9 with its sleek new form factor, dual processor lightning-fast wireless capabilities and improved QWERTY keyboard.  In Moto’s demonstration, it looks like it’s capable of downloads and Web surfing at lightning speeds.

In a quick, hands-on comparison, the new Q9 was slightly longer than my current favorite Windows Mobile smartphone, T Mobile’s Dash. They were very closely matched width and depth-wise.  No mention was made of the new Q's battery life. The original CDMA Q was a battery hog.  But, GSM phones usually provide better battery life.

The new Q9 is available in Italy this week; I’m hoping when we’ll see them for sale in the U.S. sometime this year.

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