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HTC STRTrk review: HTC STRTrk

The HTC STRTrk, aka the Qtek 8500, is a clamshell handset that runs on Windows Mobile 5. Despite having a 1.3-megapixel camera and small navigation keys, its quirky design (and name) is sure to attract die-hard fans of the cult sci-fi series, as well as Windows Mobile users wanting to synchronise with their PCs

Andrew Lim
5 min read

The HTC STRTrk, aka the Qtek 8500, is a clamshell handset and is a significant departure from the candybar PDA style phone that HTC is famous for (HTC is the manufacturer behind smartphones such as the Orange SPV C600, the T-Mobile MDA Vario and the O2 XDA Mini S). Other than the Qtek 9000, which is a clamshell of sorts, this is the first Razr-like clamshell handset from HTC.



The Good

Thin design; ability to synchronise with Microsoft Outlook; expandable memory slot; crystal clear audio on calls.

The Bad

The slow interface; Star Trek styling; small navigation key.

The Bottom Line

This is an interesting phone from an established company who usually steers clear of mass market handsets. We liked the slim form factor and ability to synchronise the phone with PCs, but the interface is slow and at times can be very frustrating

At the time of writing there was no information on pricing, or who is going to sell the phone, but given that HTC has had good relationships with UK networks in the past, operator-specific versions could be in shops soon.

The STRTrk does bear some resemblance to a Star Trek communicator, albeit not a massive one. It looks more like something from Star Trek: The Next Generation than Star Trek: The Original Series, but it does have some old-school influences. The phone is a charcoal black and has a textured feel to it, consisting of washboard- and rubber-like surfaces. It measures 98mm by 51mm by 16mm (when closed) and weighs 99g. The phone opens almost flat giving you lots of space to put it against the side of your head.

The HTC STRTrk is a clamshell mobile phone with some Star Trek-like details

The external front section of the phone houses a 31mm (1.2-inch) 65k-colour screen behind a circular piece of plastic, which is similar to the round speaker on an original communicator. The STRTrk's loud speaker is located on the bottom right of the front section, underneath three dedicated music buttons. Opposite the loud speaker and to the bottom left of the front of the phone are two flashing LEDs that indicate power and Bluetooth status. Finally, at the opposite side to the LEDs and speaker, at the top of the front section of the phone above the external screen, is a camera lens.

On the left side of the phone are a dedicated volume button and a dedicated soft key that activates the communication manager, which lets you control the Bluetooth and GSM connectivity of the phone, in addition to letting you put the phone in vibrate mode. On the right side of the phone is a dedicated shutter button, which lets you activate the camera application, and further down there's a charging port that doubles up as a proprietary headphone and USB port.

When you open up the phone you'll notice certain similarities with the Motorola Razr V3. The hinge and keypad are akin to the V3's but not identical and this is, overall, quite a different phone. It's thinner and longer then the V3, measuring 182mm by 51mm when opened, and the screen is smaller at only 34mm by 45mm. It also only displays 56k colours compared with the V3's 262k-colour screen, and the keypad is different.

On the top of the keypad are two soft keys that let you access the start menu and the contacts list. Underneath those keys are the send and end call keys and in between those keys is a navigation button. The navigation button is the same shape and uses the same five-way navigation as the V3's navigation key, but this key is noticeably smaller. Finally, there are two more soft keys at the bottom of the top section that let you go back to the homepage and go back one page, as you would in Internet Explorer. The number keys are larger than on the V3's keypad and there's more space given between them. At the bottom left corner of the keypad there's a light sensor that senses ambient light and will automatically turn the keypad's backlight on in dark environments.

Underneath the battery cover there's a small switch, which automatically turns the phone off if the cover is opened.

The HTC STRTrk is a quad-band mobile phone with EDGE connectivity that runs on Windows Mobile 5 and therefore comes with all the benefits and downsides of the Microsoft mobile OS. Included with the phone is a copy of Microsoft ActiveSync 4.1 and ClearVue Suite software. The ClearVue suite lets you view most Microsoft documents, including PDFs and Excel documents.

Once you've installed ActiveSync, you can then synchronise the phone with your PC or exchange server via the provided USB cable or a Bluetooth connection. We managed to synchronise our Microsoft Outlook contacts, calendar, email, tasks, Internet Explorer favourites and media with ease. Another great feature of ActiveSync is how easy it is to install third party applications. We downloaded the Concise Oxford English Dictionary from the mobile channel of CNET.co.uk's Downloads section and the program's install wizard automatically set it up on the phone.

Windows mobile gives you access to MSN Messenger and Hotmail too, so you can chat to your friends and check your personal email on the go. Direct Push Technology and Exchange 2003 SP2 give you access to your calendar, contacts, tasks and inbox over the air.

If you want to browse the Web you can do so via the Internet Explorer application, which can also be synchronised with your PC, so you have all your favourite sites on your phone as well as your computer. There's also a mini version of Windows Media Player, which lets you play MP3s and WMA files, and you can also watch videos.

The HTC STRTrk's camera only features a 1.3-megapixel sensor, which isn't as good as the Sony Ericsson K750i's 2-megapixel camera, but is satisfactory for MMS messages. There's also an option to put it in video mode but the picture is blurry and pixelated.

The STRTrk has 64MB ROM and 64MB RAM but there's also a microSD slot, which can support a 1GB card, so you can store your photos, videos and MP3 files. Other features include a voice recorder, calculator, loud speaker, polyphonic ringtones and a SIM toolkit that lets you access information on your SIM card.

The audio quality on calls is exceptional and conversations sounded as clear as on a landline telephone.

The camera doesn't shoot high-resolution pictures but they're suitable for MMS messages or contact pictures. If you want to turn your snapshots into regular 150x100mm (6x4-inch) prints, we recommend looking for a phone with a 2-megapixel camera.

The TI OMAP 850, 200MHz processor isn't fast and there is a delay during startup, shutdown and when accessing certain applications. Overall, we weren't impressed with loading times, but this is a problem on most Windows Mobile handsets.

Battery life lasts around 150 hours on standby and around 5 hours talktime.

Edited by Mary Lojkine
Additional editing by Kate Macefield