Review: Motorola Z9 Cell Phone

March 30, 2009

I’ve had the Motorla Z9 phone with an AT&T plan for about 7 months now, and I’ve had a great chance to see the downfalls and highlights of this Motorola slider phone.   In my seven years of having a cell phone, I’ve been able to have experienced Sprint, Verizon, and now AT&T.  I’m a big believer in not paying hundreds of dollars for a cell phone so I usually just try to get a free one from the store or sign up for a two year plan on Amazon and get it for cheap (or free in this case back in August 2008).

The Motorola Z9 is a sturdy slide phone with a nice mahogany color, easily distinguishable keypad to navigate through menus, great volume control, and good overall functionality.  There are a number of improvements that I would like to see Motorola add on, but even though I wasn’t thoroughly impressed with my first slider phone, it is not a terrible phone either.  At about .6 inches think and 5 ounces heavy, this compact phone can easily fit into your pocket,  and I’ve dropped it numerous times on the concrete ground, but the Motorola Z9 has been able to withstand some of those accidents.

Cellular Service

I’m not sure if this is the service of AT&T or Motorola’s (MOT) wireless technology but I have had more dropped calls with this phone than any of my two previous flip phones.  These dropped calls occur even in normal locations like a home or outside in an open area.   I would rank Verizon (VZ) first with Sprint (S) and AT&T (T) tied for second.

Battery Life

The battery life is terribly disappointing as I notice that it gets to low battery status rather quickly.  Cnet rates the talk time at 240 minutes talk time or 312 hours of standby time.  I would more realistically say that the talk time is more like 180 minutes with a 72 hour standby time.  The battery also seems to get overly warm during normal usage.

Extra Features

The features on the Z9 is everything that someone would like for a phone without a data plan.  Whether you’re talking about a 2 megapixel camera phone with decent quality photos, bluetooth compatibility, mp3 music playing ability, a slot for a micro SD card, and a queued history of the last 120 calls.  You can sort your list of calls by incoming and outgoing calls but not by solely missed calls.

Additional Improvements

The “go online” button above the green “talk button” can easily be accidentally pushed (when trying to make a call) which causes unnecessary data fees.  After a couple months of frustration, I figured out a solution to ensure that the “go online” button will never cause you any distress:

1) Press the Menu key
2)
Scroll down and select Settings
3)
Scroll down and select Security
4)
Scroll down and select Lock Application
5)
Enter access code (default is 1234 I think) & select “WebAccess” to lock and press OK

Overall Grades

Battery Life: D+
Functionality: A-
Durability: A
Photo Quality: B
Cellular Service: C
Overall Cell Phone Rating: B-


Cashing in on the Digital TV switchover

April 6, 2008

For more information visit www.dtv.gov.

If you haven’t been watching TV, you may not know about the digital TV switchover. If you have been watching TV, you may still not know what the digital switch over is or why it is important. On February 19, 2009 TV stations will longer broadcast analog TV, which people have been using these last decades. All the TV stations will switch to digital broadcasting.

The previous standard NTSC is capable of 1525 lines at 29.97 frames per second, while the new standard, ATSC is capable of up to 1080 lines at 60 frames per second. This means the pictures are more detailed with more fluid motion. Also, the information is digitally encoded, so you’re either going to see a clear picture or no picture at all if you can’t get a signal. Fortunately this means that most of us will get a clear picture. I have personally bought a TV converter box and it is definitely an improvement. You may also ask why 29.97 frames per second. The answer is because they didn’t know about color when they made the standard. Television has been long overdue for an update.

Where do I get a digital converter box?

You can get a digital converter box for your old TV at any electronics store, but you should take advantage of a government program that provides $40 vouchers for converter boxes. I was surprised when the BestBuy (BBY) employee there asked me where I got my coupon. She asked for the website, but I did not know it off hand. My receipt however had the website printed on it. You can get up to 2 coupons per household at www.dtv2009.gov. The converter box I purchased was $60, so it was $20 + tax out of pocket expense.

What is spectrum?

Electromagnetic waves come in many frequencies ranging from gamma rays to radio waves with visible light (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet aka ROYGBIV) sitting in the middle. The government regulates and licenses certain ranges of frequencies, so you don’t have different people interfering with each other. Since the analog television frequency band is no longer in use, the government auctioned it off with Verizon Wireless (VZ) and AT&T (T) among the winning bidders. One use of the extra bandwidth is to provide more wireless data services, which has also garnered the interest of Google (GOOG). This will advance the trend of mobile devices using more data services like the iPhone from Apple (AAPL).

How do I invest in the digital TV switchover?

Instead of buying a converter box, a significant amount of people will finally make the switch by buying a new HDTV. Television manufacturers are sure to sell many new televisions in the near future. A quick look at BestBuy and you’ll see television sets from Sony (SNE), Samsung (005930.KS, 005935.KS), Sharp (SHCAY.PK), LG (LPL), Insignia and others. All of these different HDTVs share some common components such as the digital TV tuner and decoder chips from Microtune (TUNE), Texas Instruments (TXN), Maxim Integrated (MXIM.PK) and Analog (ADI). Looking at a technological standpoint, Texas Instruments also provides its DLP technology in affordable rear projection screens and high end digital projectors.

There are many ways to invest in the digital television switchover, but it is hard to see who will come out ahead since there are so many players in the game