Review: Motorola Q9h/ Global - A Real Keeper: Page 2

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The device's single external port, a micro USB jack, does multiple duty - AC adapter, USB sync cable and hands-free phone. Music played through the included monaural hands-free phone sounds awful, which is hardly surprising.

There are a couple of solutions. Motorola sells an adapter that lets you plug in any standard 3.55 mm headphone jack ($11). Why not include this in the package? Well, the company would rather sell you a Motorokr S9, a Bluetooth stereo headset and hands-free phone, for $150. In fact, the Web page for Q 9h accessories doesn't even show the headset adapter.

I tried the S9 headset. Music sounded pretty decent, certainly miles better than the included monaural earbud, but also nothing like as good as my Bose Quiet Comfort II headphones, or any good wired headphones. The S9, however, can be worn even when walking or jogging, and it's also a hands-free phone that works surprisingly well, automatically switching between calls and music listening.

I found the S9 excruciatingly uncomfortable, but that may be just me. (I have a big head and sensitive ears.) It wraps around the back of your neck with ear hooks and rubberized ear pieces that fit partly inside your ear.

Regular readers will know I'm not a great believer in or user of phone cameras. The Q 9h camera hasn't changed my mind. You still get the fuzzy images typical of cheap fixed-focus lenses and the hit-and-miss results on exposure, but it does at least have a flash, and it's generally better than many, possibly most. I also liked the way the camera application includes a menu item for uploading pictures to your Windows Live MySpace, a very easy way to get pictures off the Q 9h.

One of the best things about this product is the integrated GPS receiver. AT&T and Rogers both offer TeleNav GPS Navigator service from TeleNav Inc. - $6 a month for up to 10 routes or $10 for unlimited routes from AT&T, $10 CDN a month for unlimited routes from Rogers. You can also get real-time traffic information with the AT&T service. For TeleNav to work, you also need a data plan.

The TeleNav client software on your device sends GPS location information over the cellular network to a server which then sends mapping and directions back to the device - thus saving the Q 9h having to store huge map files. Plus, its maps are always up to date. With stand-alone GPS navigation devices, you pay as much as $200 for updated maps.

In practice, TeleNav is somewhat slower than stand-alone devices that store maps and do processing to calculate routes locally. It can take as long as 20 or 25 seconds to download a route. I also experienced a glitch that caused TeleNav to not be able to provide audio prompts, but the problem was easily corrected by uninstalling and reinstalling the client software.

In every other respect, the Q 9h and the TeleNav service worked together very similarly to GPS navigation appliances, which is impressive given everything else this device can do.

Another option is to use Google Maps, a free download that won't provide real-time, turn-by-turn directions with automatic rerouting you when you make a wrong turn, but it does provide turn-by-turn directions from your current GPS location. Other GPS software may work with the Q 9h's GPS receiver as well, including some that let you load maps on a microSD card.

Bottom line: The Q 9h is a keeper. The industrial design is approaching Apple quality. Functionality is almost everything you could ask for - and with a device this small and light, you really shouldn't ask for everything anyway.

This article was first published on PDAStreet.com.

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