Motorola is starting to promote the latest Q -- the Q 9h (below, left) -- on its Web site and given the shortcomings of the original Q (below middle), existing Q users like me will no doubt be pouring over the new Q's design to see if anything is remarkably different ....continued below.....
The first time we got a gander at the new Q here on ZDNet, it was when Microsoft's John Starkweather came to give me a preview of Windows Mobile 6 (we have the entire visit on video). Ripping a page out of the playbook for Samsung's BlackJack (above right, another Windows Mobile "machine"), the new Q ditches the silvery grey finish of the old Q for a black finish. But what concerns me -- and one of the reasons I was originally looking forward to the old Q when it first came out (over the BlackBerry 8x00 designs) -- is the new thumbboard.
At 6' 1", I have pretty big fingers which in turn means that I have difficulty working smaller keyboards, especially when the keys are packed so closely together as they are on the new Q. This was also my complaint about the Treo. The keys on Treos have spaces between them, but not enough for me. I actually liked the spacing of the keys on the old Q and, as you can see on Samsung's BlackJack, the spacing isn't too bad there either (comparable to the old Q). But the new Q is no better than the currently BlackBerry 8800 design (left) and in fact, the keyboards are almost carbon copies of each other. Worse? Check out the space bar on the new Q. If I had one complaint about the BlackJack, it was the width of the space bar and now the new Q has gone and copied that too!
According to Motorola's Web site, the new Q is an HSDPA device. HSDPA, otherwise known as High Speed Downlink Packet Access is basically a snap-on improvement to the wireless broadband networks that evolved out of the GSM world (the US-based GSM carriers are AT&T and T-Mobile --- Sprint and Verizon Wireless both came up the CDMA-way). So, upgrading -- if you're a Verizon Wireless customer (I don't think I've seen Sprint-branded Qs) -- isn't as simple as it sounds. You'd have to change carriers and, as I've written many times before, the three most important criteria when choosing a cell phone or smart phone is coverage, coverage, coverage. Pick the best carrier for the areas you frequent and then pick from one of the phones that the carrier supports. It doesn't matter how cool a phone is if it can't connect to a network.