June 19th, 2007
When I first became interested in phones Motorola’s most popular phone was the StarTac. It was a nice phone but you’d have to read the manual before you could use it. Soon after this they brought out their Synergy interface. Synergy was pretty awesome at the time; customizable menu system, more menu icons, assignable shortcuts, menu animations, etc.
Synergy is still with us (ie it’s in the Motorola RAZR) and it’s has been updated numerous times along the way. However it’s starting to get dated and clunky.
Times have changed and now Motorola has their new Linux/Java interface. It used to be called Moto JUIX or just JUIX. What’s cool about Linux/Java is that it actually uses Java on top of Linux. So here’s Motorola’s newest Linux/Java phone – the ROKR Z6.
Make sure you check out the gallery for some pictures.
The Z6 feels fairly solid when you hold it in your hand. It has a slight heft to it. The front and bottom of the unit flexes a tiny bit. The back has the same sort of rubberized paint you’ll find on the KRZR. The front of the phone is plastic with a piano black finish.
It runs a Java based interface on top of Linux so it has a different interface compared to older Motorola phones like the Motorola RAZR.
The screen has a resolution of 240 x 320. Indoors it looks great. It’s bright and works ok outdoors when it’s sunny.
The keypad is like a RAZR’s; it looks flat but is actually really easy to use. The keys have a decent amount of travel when pressed. I appreciate how the top part of the slide curves inwards at the bottom so that you can fit your fingers over the buttons easily.
There is support for Bluetooth headsets, stereo headphones, mini USB headphones (included) and a speakerphone.
The speakerphone’s maximum volume is about average (it’s not that useful in loud environments).
There doesn’t appear to be any voice command software built into my Z6 but apparently most should have it.
You’ll find a mini USB connector underneath a port cover on the right side of the phone. It’s used for charging, wired headsets duties and for connecting the Z6 to your computer.
There’s a microSD slot under the battery cover. You don’t have to remove the battery if you want to swap cards.
The Z6 has some magnets in both parts of the slide so that it can tell when it’s opened or closed (at least this is my guess). I found that if you put magnets near the Z6, you can fool it into thinking it just closed. This is a minor inconvenience if you carry the Z6 around in a phone pouch that stays shut via magnets – it will keep making the open/shut noise.
Previously ROKR phones had some special features that made them more suitable for listening to music. The first ROKR; the E1 came with stereo speakers, haptics and a really crappy iTunes client. The second one had a stereo headphone jack. The Z6 doesn’t really come with anything too special music wise besides the dedicated music client key on the front.
Software wise the Z6 runs Motorola Linux/Java interface. It resembles their old Synergy interface (found on the RAZR).
There are numerous changes from Synergy. You can reorder menu items and create custom folders to put them in. At the standby menu, the left softkey is mapped to an option function which lets you quickly access frequently used items.
All the apps are different though they resemble the ones found on Synergy phones. The main menu has a grid view with icons (you can also choose a list view) but the sub-menus are just text so they can look a bit bland.
I found the menu sounds to be pretty interesting; I actually left them on instead of turning them off immediately like I usually do.
I really enjoyed the new interface. It looks great and it’s faster than a speeding bullet.
Phone Related Features:
The phonebook is pretty straight forward. It’s split into entries; each entries can have multiple bits of information. Types of information are sorted into tabs which is similar to newer Sony Ericsson phones. You can search the phonebook by typing part of the entry’s name. Pretty standard stuff.
You can remote sync the Z6 with an exchange server (I didn’t try this but there’s an option for it).
I noticed that you can quickly change the Z6′s profile by pressing either side mounted volume buttons. This is a nice change from older Motorola phones where pressing up will cause the phone to ring.
You get a mini USB connector hidden behind a port cover on the right side. There are 4 different USB modes; Media Synchronization, Memory card, modem and USB printing.
When the Z6 is in Media Synchronization mode you can sync media files to it using Windows Media Player. Memory card mode is also known as Mass Storage Mode. You can transfer files to the Z6 without needing special drivers in this mode. I clocked the Z6 at a fairly speedy 1.15 MB/s.
There is an email app that is separate from the messaging one. The email app supports IMAP4 and POP3. It works well and is pretty fast. You can still read messages while the Z6 is grabbing your email.
Browsing duties are handled by Opera Mini. If you’ve never used Opera Mini on a ‘regular’ (non-smart) phone let me say it totally kicks ass. Opera Mini uses a proxy server. Basically means that when you request a page, the request gets sent to another computer, that computer downloads the page, reformats it and shrinks the images and then sends it to your phone. This way pages load up faster plus it requires less data to transmit.
I liked the history as well as the support for multiple browser windows. You can have Opera resize webpages so that you can view them without having to scroll horizontally or as they would be rendered on your computer.
Opera is pretty speedy when it comes to scrolling through webpages. I just wish there was a page up/down button.
There’s a 2 megapixel camera with a LED flash. Resolution is ok though the colour isn’t as vibrant as they could be. It’s very ‘camera phone’ looking. Check out the gallery for some sample pics.
The camcorder app can only record videos with resolutions of up to 176 x 144.
The mp3 player is alright. You can sort your music by artist/album/genre/composer. There’s a playlist feature. You also get some audio processing options like a spatializer function plus you can adjust the bass settings or use the bass boost.
There’s a dedicated music player key + a background play feature. You can use A2DP Stereo Bluetooth Headphones to listen to music. The music player supports AVRCP so you can control it using A2DP headphones.
You get the basic organizer apps; Calendar, Alarm Clock, World Clock, Calculator, Task List, Notes and Voice recorder.
The alarm clock has been changed so that it’s a lot more intuitive to use. You can now see the current time when you’re setting the alarm. I was a little disappointed to see that you still have to set an alarm as ‘on’ even after you set its time.
The Calendar and Notes apps can synchronize with Outlook on your PC using Mobile Phone Tools
Incoming sound quality is good, there’s virtually no hiss. Maximum earpiece volume isn’t bad.
RF performance isn’t that great. My Sony Ericsson W600i was much better than the Z6.
Even though the RF performance could be better I liked the Z6. It feels nice in your hand, has a very nice looking display and has a blazingly fast menu. Opera is just awesome, it’s good enough that I didn’t mind using it even when I had a Blackberry or some other smartphone in my other pocket.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Phone Related Features||4|
|Ease of Use||4|
|Degree of Customizability||4|
|Overall (not an average)||4|
|*Please note these ratings are temporal and are really only valid for the date they were assigned. A phone which receives a rating of 5 a year ago will probably get a lower rating today.|
- Alarm app is more intuitive to use
- Menus are really fast
- Fast USB transfers
- Screen looks great
- Memory card slot
- RF performance could use some work
- No HSDPA
- No dedicated buttons to control music playback
Entry Filed under: Phones