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Motorola Hint QA30 review:

Motorola Hint QA30

Other essentials include a vibrate mode, a datebook, an alarm clock, a world clock, a calculator, a speakerphone, and a notepad. The Hint also offers a voice recorder, text and multimedia messaging, stereo Bluetooth, and voice dialing. It also promises USB mass storage, though we couldn't get that feature to work. Also, while POP3 e-mail support is onboard, you need to use a Web interface. On the upside, the text messaging is threaded so that you can see a full conversation.

The Hint's camera lacks a flash and a self-portrait mirror.

The 2-megapixel camera takes photos in five resolutions, from 1,600x1,200 down to a special size for photo caller ID. Other options include a self-timer, nine frames, five white balance settings, adjustable brightness, a digital zoom, and four shutter sounds, plus a silent option. Photo quality was decent. Colors were a bit dull, and there was some image noise, but they were presentable just the same. Indoor shots looked better than images taken outdoors. Just make sure that you have enough light since the Hint doesn't offer a flash.

The camcorder shoots clips in two resolutions (320x240 and 176x144) with sound. Editing options were similar to the still camera. Clips meant for multimedia messages are capped at 35 seconds or you can shoot for as long as the available memory permits. Internal memory is 128MB of shared space so we advise investing in a memory card if you think that you'll be using the camera and music player extensively. The Hint's card slot will accommodate microSD cards up to 8GB.

The Hint has acceptable photo quality.

The music player supports MP3, AAC, AAC+, WAV, and WMA files. As music players go, it's pretty minimalist, but it offers playlists, shuffle and repeat modes, and a basic equalizer. The Hint doesn't have album art, but you can activate simple video effects. Moto promises that you can transfer music using Windows Media Player 11, but we didn't attempt to do so. You will need a memory card to use the music player--Cricket didn't include a card with our review model.

You can personalize the Hint with a variety of wallpapers, banners, and clock formats. More options, and additional ringtones, are available with the Openwave WAP browser. The Hint offers one game (Bloc Breaker D2) with additional titles available from Cricket.

We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Hint in San Francisco. Since the Bay Area isn't part of Cricket's home coverage area we made calls using the carrier's roaming network. Call quality was above average. Though the volume can get loud and voices sounded relatively natural, the signal warbled in and out. It wasn't a significant problem, though, and we realize it could be because we're not on Cricket's home network.

On their end, callers could tell that we were using a cell phone. Most of our friends didn't mention any issues with the reception, but a few reported a slight echo on the end. That could be due to other factors, though. Automated calling systems could understand us, but we had to be in a quiet room. Speakerphone volume was loud and callers could understand us if we spoke close to the phone. We connected successfully to the Samsung SBH-600 stereo headset; audio quality was unchanged from regular voice calls.

The Hint is equipped for 3G (EV-DO) networks, which Cricket operates throughout its home network. We weren't able to test it since we were roaming.

Music quality over the external speakers wasn't so impressive. Though the speakers have decent output, the audio quality is rather flat. It's not any worse than most music phones, but it's not any better either. Headphones will provide the best experience. The music player also plays videos. Clips off a memory card looked quite good, though videos we shot with the phone's camera were jerky.

The Hint has a rated battery life of 4.5 hours talk time and up to 15 days standby time. Our tests resulted in a talk time of 5 hours and 2 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Hint has a digital SAR of 1.40 watts per kilogram.

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