Feeds
85%

Motorola Z8 'kick slider' media phone

Does this 'multimedia monster' shape up?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

The Z8 allows pluggable applets to be added to the standby screen: profiles, make a call, view calendar, music player. This is now a standard feature of Nokia's S60, but was pioneered on the Sendo X - itself designed by the same team that created the Z8; Motorola acquired the team two years ago. It's much easier to configure than on S60, however, and can be set from the left soft-menu key with a couple of clicks: there's no need to drill down several layers.

The phone has improved immeasurably over recent firmware updates - and unusually for a modern mobile, the manufacturer appears to care about the user experience and is keen to improve to it. Motorola incorporated feedback throughout the development cycle, with some important enhancements. Unlike Nokia, which very humbly solicits feedback through its bloggers, then very arrogantly throws their replies in the bin.

But there's still some room for polish.

We found there's a delay that's just a fraction of a second too long when the slider is opened: it should be instant. The icons need some work, too: they're infuriatingly indistinct, and too many look alike. We were obliged to view the applications deck and control panel in List view. Here's an example:

Guess the icon?
Motorola's bundled "Guess the icon?" game.
The Z8 isn't a flip phone, Moto...

The task switcher, invoked by holding down the Home key, bobs disconcertingly usually once, but sometimes twice.

That said, it's evident that the Motorola team has worked hard to remove UIQ annoyances where it could. For example, the default UIQ address book is notorious for making look-ups difficult. You can either search by first name or last name, and to change between them you need to change the display order: a quite asinine decision. The Z8, however, finds contacts regardless of whether the search string is a first name or surname.

In other areas, alas, Motorola had to deal with the new, verbose UIQ. This really needs a brutal redesign: too many functions take too many clicks to accomplish. Some user interface controls require manual confirmation - you have to explicitly confirm the change using the left soft-menu key. Others don't, you simply go back to the previous screen knowing the change has been made. It's inconsistent and infuriating.

For text input, this phone uses Motorola's preferred iTAP - which takes a couple of days to get used to if T9 is embedded into your motor movements. It's actually a bit faster once you're familiar with it - recognising phrases as well as words - although it demands a little more concentration.

As for compatibility, UIQ 3.0 themes work without any trouble. Some applications may need to be tweaked to take into account the subtly different input. We tried the Salling Clicker 3.0 client designed for the W950 phone, and discovered it installed and ran. High-profile Java apps such as Google Maps and Yahoo! Go 2.0, naturally work very well.

Verdict

From its styling, the Z8 appears to have been designed to appeal to blokes who talk very loudly in the gym. This, with the BSkyB bundle, is probably very astute marketing. The real bellweather technology adopters aren't phone nerds but the guy in Brentwood with a decent disposable income. The BSkyB remote control is a very handy feature if you're a subscriber, in which case everything else is gravy.

For the rest of us, the Z8 shows great promise - we particularly liked the balance and comfort. We look forward to seeing the user interface annoyances ironed out, and seeing the Z8 appear in different colour schemes and with more of a music focus. It has the potential to give Sony Ericsson a run for its money, and at once provides a complacent Nokia with some long overdue competition at the top end of the handset market.

Website security in corporate America

85%

Motorola Z8 'kick slider' media phone

A very capable media phone, with some rough edges...
Price: £335 SIM-free RRP

More from The Register

next story
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
4K-ing excellent TV is on its way ... in its own sweet time, natch
For decades Hollywood actually binned its 4K files. Doh!
Your chance to WIN the WORLD'S ONLY HANDHELD ZX SPECTRUM
Reg staff not allowed to enter, god dammit
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Monitors monitor's monitoring finds touch screens have 0.4% market share
Not four. Point four. Count yer booty again, Microsoft
Getting to the BOTTOM of the great office seating debate
Belay that toil, me hearty, and park your scurvy backside
Hey, Mac fanbois. HGST wants you drooling over its HUGE desktop RACK
What vast digital media repository could possibly need 64 TERABYTES?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.