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HEREâs somet hing for the fashion-addict but budget-conscious users. Motorola has a range of phone models that cater to a broad market spectrum but it is primarily known for its ROKR and RAZR models nowadays because of their fa shion-minded designs and solid construction. Motorola can also be credited for making the first "flip phone" the StarTAC way back in the mid-90s. From then on, Motorola has been leveraging on fashionable design but sometimes sacrificing functionality. While it has been chased after by Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson in many of t he segments that it once dominated over, Motorola is still holding on its own i n the entry-level phone space by extensively introducing a host of models that are just about dirt cheap as any other brand. Some of these phones can be bough t for no less than P4,000. Though it is being closely followed by other brands, such as Sony Ericsson, Motorola still dominates the "super entry-level" phone category. Among the cheapest of the cheap are Motorola's ZN200 and the W388, which cost b etween P3,500 and P7,000. The W388 in particular is one of Motorola's cheapest while the mid-level ZN200 is a several steps behind the MOTOSLVR series. W388 for the classy masses The W388 is simply a consumer entry-level ph one. While some of the other mobile brands still hark about making phones that are cheap with good design, the W388 is already successful in that department. The phone is particularly small, at just about 109 millimeters in length and 14 millimeters in thickness. It also weighs barely 100 grams. Motorola's music-orientation is also evident on the W388 as there are readily a vailable music buttons. The upper left button has a musical note icon that when pressed, leads the user to the music segment of the phone. The four-way keypad also controls the music segment of the phone as it has the forward, back, volu me, play/pause buttons that are used when playing music. The use of the four-wa y button as a music controller is nothing new but the W388 executes it pretty w ell. Music and other files can also be stored in its shared 7.5 megabyte internal me mory but it can be expanded with a microSD card up to 2 gigabytes, thereby expa nding content-saving capabilities. However, this device can only play music fil es. No video can run on it. Because it is targeted at basic users, the W 388's graphical user interface has only but the barest of bare essentials. It h as the standard calculator, alarm clock, stopwatch and SMS messaging. Internet access is also available on the W388, by way of an integrated Internet browser and a Google client but because of the limited screen size, low resolu tion (128 kb by 160 kb), and the lack of a 3G platform (it only uses GSM and al though it claims to be HTML-ready its EDGE capabilities are very limited) makes it less of a useful Internet-ready phone. Still, the W388 boasts of Motorola's CrystalTalk sound feature, which allows fo r clearer sounds when making calls or listening to music. This device also has a 2-megapixel camera. The camera control interface does no t do much with photos. But having a camera seems a nifty add-on to an otherwise very basic mobile phone. ZN200: For the budget conscious but a bit fancier If not the W388, a user may try something a bit better looking with slightly better graphics and applications. The ZN200 is one such device. One of the few Motorola slider models, the ZN200 is still considered an entry-level phone due to some downgraded features, notably its In ternet capabilities. For one, the ZN200 is almost the same size as the W388 but is noticeably heavie r at 115 grams. Of course, it becomes longer when the keypad is fully exposed f rom underneath the device. The button and alphanumeric keypad layout is very mi nimalist; the keypad is actually integrated into one plastic part but it is not difficult to access the numbers. Even the call/power and left/right menu butto ns are integrated into a similar manner. Unlike the W388 which relies on the filename of the MP3 music file to help iden tify it, the ZN200 uses the file's ID3 tag, which separates the song's title, t he musician, the album and the genre. This is helpful when navigating through t housands of music files. The ZN200 also has an integrated 2-megapi xel camera, which can be used for video recording. The ZN200 can zoom eight tim es than the W388's 4 times zoom but the quality is quite degraded and since the ZN200 doesn't have an image stabilizer, photo taking or video recording at the maximum zoom can be wobbly if not downright difficult. Nevertheless, the 220x176 pixel resolution LCD screen is better, allowing for s harper photo and video viewing. Because the phone has EDGE connectivity, the ZN 200 can view HTML and WAP sites better but still with limited features. Surprisingly, the ZN200 can only accommodate microSD cards of up to 2 Gb. This is despite some older generation of entry-level multimedia phones that are able to accommodate at least 4 Gb. Fewer new phones that accommodate microSD cards are using less than 4 Gb of capacity. On the other hand, it has a 30 megabyte i nternal memory which stores quite a number of short videos and medium-quality p hotos. One nifty feature of the ZN200 is an incoming message indicator on top of the s creen. When a message (either SMS or if email is set up on the phone) is receiv ed, an image of an envelope lights up. This is useful for users who put their p hones in their chest pocket and when phones are on silent mode and without the vibrating feature. On the other hand, the ZN200 has some speed issues. Trying to access files on t he microSD card is slow. A fraction of a second from the time a button is press ed to the time the screen refreshes is already noticeable. Even when typing a m essage, the screen would put in the letter pressed after a small fraction of a second. While it is not exactly a major concern, this slow reaction time could be a bit annoying for users. Battery life As mentioned earlier, the Motorola ZN200 and W388 are entry-le vel phones with limited functionalities. Because these models do not have large LCD screens and have basic applications installed, battery life for both phone s is better than other models in the same class. Both phones use 810 milliamper e-hour (mAh) batteries. On standby mode, both phones can last from three to fou r days. Even when used for calls, both phones can last for at least 48 hours on one full charge. Charging also takes less than one hour. This is appealing for users who are always on the go and do not have time for charging an electronic device. Verdict Motorola has successfully introduced entry-level phones that cater to fashion a ddicts with a very limited budget. There are kinks on both phones, notably on t heir graphical user interface, small expandable memory capacity, and slow react ion time, but at least they still look good. For now, Motorola is finding its w ay into the hands of the many Filipinos who like to look good without spending so much.
By Alex Villafania INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines -- The entry-level market currently make s up for a large portion of the mobile phone business in the Philippines. Phone brands must have a mass appeal to stay in the market that demands cheap phones that cost below P5,000 to P6,000. Motorola, however, has found a small but growing niche in the mass market segme nt that looks for more sophistication in their somewhat dull basic phones. Thes e types of users are starting to demand multimedia functionalities in their han dsets. (Photo shows from left to right the Moto A810, the black and white ZN200, the M OTOROKR EM60, and the Motorola W388). "People, even in a tight budget, still want their phones to be as functional as the more expensive phones that they wish they had. This is the market that we' re trying to address," Mari Litonjua, Motorola Philippines marketing director f or sub-regions, said. Speaking to local journalists during the launch of new handsets, Litonjua said consumers are bound to want phones that have multimedia functions, especially t hose that have radio and digital music playback capabilities, and if possible, basic photo functions. "Not only do they want their phones to perform well but they also want these to look good as well," Litonjua said. The company presented five new phones, all of which are entry-level models for different segments. These will be launched in the third quarter of the year at a starting price of P3,000. The latest entry-level music phone is the W388, which is an updated version of Motorola's successful W300 series. The phone can accommodate microSD cards of u p to 2 gigabytes in storage capacity. It also features an easy drag-and-drop fe ature allowing basic users to just copy music files into the phone from a compu ter. The W388 has an FM radio, speakerphone, and digital camera. The Motozine ZN5 and the ZN200 are Motorola's camera phones. The ZN200 is the b asic unit in the lineup. It has a 2-megapixel digital camera with 8x digital zo om. It can capture video in MPEG-4 format. It comes with 30 megabytes of intern al memory, but it can accommodate 2Gb microSD card. The Motorolla ZN5 is the top model in the Motozine series. It has a 5-megapixel digital camera with additional lighting adjustment functions, as well as captu re modes and photo editing effects. Kodak provided the Kodak Gallery software a nd image enhancement software engine for this phone. The ZN5 also supports a microSD card up to 4 Gb. It also has wireless fidelity (WiFi) connectivity, allowing the phone to connect to the Internet and to the K odak Gallery online service for quick uploading of photos. One of the two entry-level phones for the higher market segment is the Moto A81 0, which is a small touch-sensitive PDA phone. This model has a 2-megapixel cam era that can record photos and videos (in 3GPP and MPEG-4 formats). The phone s upports EDGE cellular wireless technology for browsing the Internet. The touch- screen of this unit is also one of the smallest in the market at 2.2-inches. Motorola finally introduced the Motorokr EM30, a basic ROKR phone. It is the se cond after the ROKR E8 to integrate the mode shift technology that turns the to uch-sensitive alphanumeric keypad into controls for a handheld music player. It also supports microSD cards of up to 8 Gb. The phones will be made available in the Philippines in the third quarter this year, Motorola Philippines said. Watch my video interview with Alvin Soh, Motorola product marketing manager for mobile devices, as he introduces the latest lineup of Motorola phones.

MotoROKR rocks softly

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By Alexander Villafania INQUIRER.net MOTOR OLA is keen on making impressions last when designing their phones. This starte d a couple years ago when they introduced the ROKR, RAZR series and SLVER serie s. Then they started having partnerships with several audio hardware manufacturers to complement their strategy in the mobile phone business. Motorola focused so much on design that the accessories had to look as good as the phones. That's not a surprise considering that in a cutthroat business like the mobile phone-m usic player hybrid manufacturing, the one with the most fashionable design wins . The MotoROKR series maybe the brand's most prolific model as it caters to music enthusiasts. It competes directly with Sony Ericsson's Walkman series and the Nokia N series. The latest in the ROKR series is the E8 and is a huge departure from the previous designs, particularly the E6 and Z6 models. This time, Motor ola went back to the drawing board to create an entirely new ROKR, in the hopes of reigniting the enthusiasm for their music phones. At first glance, one might think the MotoROKR E8 is a new brand ; none of the basic designs of even Motorola's previous generation of "brick" m obile phones were integrated into the E8, save for the familiar âMâ logo of the company. In fact, the phone doesn't look like a phone when it's turned off or when it is in idle mode. It is totally black and the front part is covered in t empered glass. The sides are in navy blue chrome finish while the back is rubbe rized dark blue aluminum. It is quite visible even with such a dark color schem e because it is wider than most phones at 115 millimeters though it is thinner at 10.6 mm. Perhaps because of the use of tempered glass and the chrome finish, the unit is noticeably heavier at approximately 100 grams. It feels solid to t he touch and doesn't seem to have any moving parts inside. FastScroll and ModeShift An obvious design feature of the MotoROKR E8 is the semi-spheri cal navigator ring in the middle of the unit, as well as little nubs, like the ones used in Braille documents, lined up across its lower half. These nubs and the middle navigator (what Motorola calls FastScroll Navigator) actually hide a ll of the touch-sensitive controls of the phone, which appear as backlit letter s and numbers. Another feature is the ModeShift, which is just shifting the function of the ph one. In active mode, the user can do just about anything that can be done on a mobile phone, such as write text or multimedia messages, view files, play mobil e phone games, among other things. But with a press of a button (the lit music note on the left side), the phone becomes a handheld music player, which shows only the basic music functions (play, pause, next/previous song, shuffle and lo op). The other button functions become invisible and will become visible again when the Back button is pressed. But even with a supposed touch-sensitive keypad, a firm press is required on ea ch of the buttons and only a miniscule vibration indicates that a successful pr ess was made. This is a far cry from the tactile feel of pressing real buttons and it does require quite a learning curve. But once users get past the vibrati on indicator instead of the tactile feel, it becomes as easy as using an ordina ry phone. Music function And because it is a music phone, it should work as well or e ven better than its competitors in the same market. When the ModeShift transfor ms the E8's controls from phone to music player the screen's interface is also transformed and actually looks similar to the Apple iPod's iTunes user interfac e. It would be most certain that anyone who owns an E8 will have already owned an iPod so using the E8's music controls will be easy. As expected, the sound is superb when using its headset and what makes it bette r is that it uses a 3.5 mm standard stereo jack allowing for a variety of stere o headsets, including those with noise-canceling functions, to be plugged in. E ven when using the loudspeaker the MotoROKR E8's sound quality is not diminishe d. But because the speaker is a small slit it cannot go as loud as a Sony Erics son Walkman phone, like the W910i, which uses larger speaker drivers. Neverthel ess, the E8 speakers are powerful enough to be heard inside small spaces, such as cars. It is also good enough when using for phone calls (even the microphone can pick up the user's voice, provided it is situated directly in front). At 2 Gigabytes internal memory, the MotoROKR E8 can save an average of 1,000 so ngs in MP3 format. But it can triple its capacity by installing a 4 Gb microSD memory card. The bad part here is that the card has to be installed inside the unit and even with the card slot being placed just above the battery, the batte ry itself has to be removed from its compartment just to insert the small micro SD card. Nevertheless, the advantage of having a memory card inside the cover o f the phone is that it has less chance of being accidentally removed. Camera and other functions Of course, even as a music phone, the MotoROKR E8 features a 2-megabyte digital camera at the back, which takes basic but respectable photos. Incidentally, it doesn't have a flash but this may be because of the emphasis on this model's m usic player functions. Still, it wouldn't hurt to put in an extra flash. It also has an FM radio tuner but it has to be activated using a headset, which serves as its antenna. On the other hand, few actually ever use their phones' FM tuner if they already have loads of MP3s in their phones. The E8 also sports an A2DP Bluetooth connectivity that allows it to connect to other Bluetooth devices, including headsets with stereo control functions. It c an also transmit sound to Bluetooth loudspeakers and transfer various files als o via Bluetooth wireless technology. Cellular connectivity is through its quad-band GPRS/EDGE capability. Although i t doesn't have WiFi, it can still access the Internet via cellular networks. Th e company claims that it supports full HTML websites but the browser forcibly t ries to fit all of the content in a small screen, which causes some sites to lo ok tight. The sites are still functional but scrolling down large webpages can be daunting. Overall, the MotoROKR E8 is a sudden but welcome change in the ROKR phone famil y. Its revolutionary touch-screen keypad function is a potential hot seller esp ecially with users who are bored with the tactile feel of separate keys. It doe s require some getting used to but a little practice will do just the trick. So und is good but not as great as the competing models from Sony Ericsson. Anothe r good thing with the MotoROKR is its somewhat longer battery life, which can l ast up to two days without charging and while using its music functions.
MOTOROLA regional marketing director Mari Litonjua gives a demo of two handsets which are also excellent music players, the RAZR 2 V9 and ROKR E8. Litonjua sa id the ROKR E8 will be launched in the market in the middle of May. Video taken by INQUIRER.net online videographer Janie Christine Octia.

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