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Review: Motorola Zine ZN5

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Motorola is now facing a giant economic crisis. In the third quarter of the present year, Motorola saw a deficit in profits and lost its position as the #1 Manufacturer in the USA. In its effort to get back on track, Motorola launched a device that might be very appealing to customers, combining a ”Kodak Camera and a High Quality Phone”, Motorola launched the MotoZine ZN5.

Introduction

The ZN5 is on the High-End segment of Motorola’s portfolio, the device offers a 5 Megapixel Camera with Kodak Technology, Auto-Focus and Xenon Flash. The device itself is advertised as a Kodak Camera combined with a High-Quality phone. With the Kodak branding all over the ZN5, it is obvious that Motorola wants to advertise its phone as ”A Kodak Camera”, in my opinion this strategy gives positive results.  To prove it, I took a N95 8GB and the ZN5 and showed it to 15 people, I did not give information about the phones, just handed them so they explore them and play for a while.  The results were as expected, the well-known Kodak branding stole the attention from the N95 8GB. Phrases like ”Wow a Kodak camera in a phone!!” and ”Wow a Kodak Phone” were frequent, then they just left the N95 8GB and played with the ZN5.

It is true that the ZN5 might have a nice camera, but other specifications just let down people who are looking for a powerful phone. For example, the ZN5 lacks 3G connectivity, GPS and a decent internet browser.

Returning to the test, it gave the following conclusions:  People who are not tech-savvy prefer the ZN5, mostly because of its slim design and its Kodak Branding. But people who know about technology prefer the N95 8GB because of the GPS, 3G and advanced Internet Browser and overall more complete features. I also noticed that among the people I tested, the most interested in the ZN5 were the young people, mostly teens who frequently use Online Social Communities like FaceBook and MySpace and the advantage of having a Kodak camera at all times to post and share pictures is important to improve their Online Social Profiles.

Design

The MotoZN5 is a light phone, it is also very slim but with a thicker upper part where the 5 Megapixel camera is located. It uses a Violet color scheme mixed with Violet-Metal-dark colors which in my opinion make the phone look actual and modern. The device is a blend of rubber parts with metal parts.

The keypad of the ZN5 is very special, it is all covered by a flexible piece of plastic. The keypad has multiple functions, right after taking a picture all the numbers disappear and a trash icon, a ”share” icon and a gallery icon appear.  The ergonomics of the device are standard, keys are comfortable enough and give a good feedback.

Software

The MotoZN5 runs on Linux, if you have a Motorola such as the V3 you will find that the interface is slightly similar. It has a menu button that guides to a standard 9 icon grid.  There are Messages, Call Log, Phone book as in most phones. But the MotoZN5 has other applications others don’t have.

Kodak Gallery:  The Kodak Gallery is an application that lets the user upload pictures to the web, such as to Flickr or Ovi. The user creates an account and then uploads pictures.

IM & Email: This is a Java application that lets the user configure almost ANY email or IM account in the ZN5. It is extremely easy to use, the phone just asks for user name and password and that is it, the account is ready to be used. I liked the application because of the convenience, in other phones it is difficult to set-up an email account or IM account.

Multimedia: This application is an hybrid between a file browser and a media player. The user can easily browse all media in his phone, including Music, Pictures, Videos, VoiceNotes, Ringtones etc.

Settings: Setting includes everything related to phone configurations and parameters such as Bluetooth, Profiles and Wi-Fi.

Fun&Apps: This icon has features that are not in the main menu such as camera, radio, web browser, calendar etc.

I really don’t like the organization of the Menu. The 9 icons described above that are in the main menu cannot be customized as the user wishes. The user can just organize them but cannot delete them or bring another icon from a secondary menu, thus all the important icons such as Calendar, Profiles, WebBrowser, Bluetooth, Radio and others are hidden in secondary menus.   For example, receiving a quick Bluetooth file is complicated by the organization of the menu, the Bluetooth icon is hidden in secondary menus and cannot be brought to the desktop screen or main menu if the user needs it frequently

Connectivity

The ZN5 has quad-band GSM with EDGE support, but the 3G is missing no matter in which continent you live in. The only bearer to get Broadband in the ZN5 is Wi-Fi, which is useful to have when uploading pictures, and browsing internet, specially when watching videos in YouTube. To complete the connectivity features the ZN5 has a FM Radio and Bluetooth with A2DP support.

To test the ZN5’s Bluetooth, I compared it to the speed of the Nokia E71’s Bluetooth, the result is not exciting or unexpected, once again devices with Bluetooth v2.0 proved to have the same transfer speeds.

Multimedia

The ZN5 is a multimedia device. To start, it has a standard 3.5mm jack, and a microSD slot which makes it perfect to listen to music. A specific feature I liked in the ZN5 is that it came with High-Quality earphones, they are not cheap plastic earphones. To give you an idea, iPod earphones are plastic and cheap compared to the ZN5’s earphones. The device handles music pretty well, its music player has an impressive 10 equalizer options compared to the 5 options Nseries devices have. The ZN5 has a single back speaker which performs average, it produces clear sounds when at 70% of the volume, but at full volume the speaker produces distortions in the track. The ZN5 can handle AMR-NB, AMR-WB, AAC, AAC+, MP3, 8/16BIT LINEAR PCM,WMA, LBR, REAL AUDIO 10, WINDOWS MEDIA AUDIO PRO for audio files, for video files it can handle MPEG4+ACC, H.263+ACC and Real Video+Audio.

The ZN5 has also a FM Radio, a voice recorder and TV-OUT.

Camera

The ZN5’s camera is one of the best cameras on a phone, it has Kodak Technology with AutoFocus and Xenon, the only thing it needs to be perfect is Optical Zoom.  To see a comparison with other high-quality imaging device please follow this link.

Conclusion

The ZN5 has one of the best cameras available in a phone, the Kodak Technology with Xenon and Auto-Focus produces excellent results. But the ZN5 falls short, lacking 3G which s now standard, and by some weird reason, the ZN5 doesn’t support it. The GPS is also not there and the desktop-like web browser is also missing.

The phone is very appealing to young customers who use online social communities where pictures are very important, and according to the test I made they realized that it is convenient to have a high quality camera always in the pocket. On the other hand, the device is cheap, the price/features ratio is completely friendly with the customer who has to pay US$99 on a T-Mobile contract.

Advantages: Great camera; great build quality and relative low price; good looking device

Disadvantages: Lack of 3G Band; browser is not very good; it could have GPS since it is a high-end device.

Rating: 8.5/10

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By , International Correspondent on Dec 9th, 2008 GMT +2

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