When Motorola introduced its first slider phone with the Rizr Z3, the company successfully took its groundbreaking Razr design to the next level. Now the company is offering the Rizr Z6tv, which is essentially the Rizr Z3 with Verizon Wireless' V Cast Mobile TV service. It certainly is the slickest of the TV phones available, and the design lends itself well to watching streaming video. Although call quality remains strong, the addition of V Cast seems to have come at the expense of some other features that we liked in the Z3, like a camera flash and a display with a higher resolution. To find accessories for this phone, see our cell phone ringtones and accessories guide.
The Z6tv's all-black casing is attractive, and the slider mechanism is solid. We easily could open and close the phone with one hand using the small thumb grip below the display, while the spring-assisted mechanism provides a comforting level of sturdiness. The phone measures 4.15 inches by 1.79 inches by 0.64 inch and weighs 3.7 ounces.
The 2-inch, 65,000-color display is vibrant and crisp, though a 262,000-hue display would be more appropriate for this phone's prize feature. The five-way navigation toggle is raised slightly above the surface of the phone. The toggle can be set as a shortcut to four user-defined functions, as well as for controlling music and video playback. Unfortunately, the other navigation buttons--two soft keys, a TV/camera shortcut button, a Clear key, and the Talk and End/Power buttons--are rather small with no clear separation between them.
The Z6tv's keypad buttons are on par with the Rizr Z3. Though they are flat with the surface of the phone because of the slider design, raised ridges between the individual keys give them more definition than on the original Razr. We also like the large numbers and bright blue backlighting.
The Rizr Z6tv has one significant design advantage over previous V Cast phones--the LG VX9400 and the Samsung SCH-U620--in that its extendable TV antenna is internal. It resides on the back of the device near the top, so you'll have to be careful how you hold the phone or else you can block reception.
The V Cast Mobile TV service is the feature that separates the Z6tv from the Z3. Currently available in select U.S. cities, Verizon's V Cast Mobile TV services features 12 channels of live TV, including CBS, ESPN, and MLB Channel. Don't expect to use Z6tv or any other V Cast phone as a mobile replacement for your TV. Although simulcast programming is periodically available from Fox News, CNBC, and MSNBC, most of the programming is tailored for the mobile network.
A quick press of the TV/camera key activates the TV service. A click of the left soft key lets you watch TV in full-screen mode, which requires you to turn the phone horizontally for a wide-screen-like view. You change channels with the up or down buttons on the five-way toggle. Other entertainment options are plentiful. The Z6tv supports Verizon's V Cast streaming video service and the phone's music player can access the carrier's V Cast Music service to download tracks over the air.
The Z6tv's other features are solid, though not spectacular. The phone book holds 1,000 contacts, with room in each entry for four phone numbers, one fax number, and two e-mail addresses. That's not as fully featured as the Rizr Z3, which supports street addresses and Web site URLs. You can organize contacts into groups, or pair them with a photo or polyphonic ringtones for caller ID. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, a voice recorder, text and multimedia messaging, an alarm clock, a calendar, and a calculator. On the higher end, you get a speakerphone, voice dialing and commands, USB 1.1 connectivity, Bluetooth, and PC syncing.
We tested the dualband (CDMA 800/1900; EV-DO) Rizr Z6tv in the Chicago area using Verizon Wireless service. Call quality was very good with little background hiss. Callers reported no trouble hearing us and even noted how clear we sounded using the speakerphone. On our end, the speakerphone tended to get distorted at high volumes during calls. As for Bluetooth, we successfully paired the Z6tv with a Plantronics Discovery 610 headset and were able to beam contacts between the Rizr Z6tv and a Samsung SPH-A640 cell phone.
When watching V Cast Mobile TV, however, the speaker was loud and clear enough for us to hear voices even when we were outdoors with heavy traffic going by. Provided you're able to get a strong signal, V Cast TV quality is excellent, with no lag between video and audio. As was the case with other V Cast phones, we had trouble getting TV reception indoors. But this shouldn't be an issue if you use this feature while on the go.
We were also impressed with the speed of Verizon's EV-DO service. It took about 60 seconds to download a 3-minute song. Music playback was clear with a set of Shure earbuds, but with no bass or treble adjustments, tunes tend to sound a bit flat.