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Motorola A1000 review: Motorola A1000

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The Good Enormous screen for Web browsing and video playback. Business messaging allows secure remote access to personal files. Picsel viewer makes it easy to view documents.

The Bad Most applications suffer from delays. Downloaded files tend to go missing. Large and heavy.

The Bottom Line For business users needing to keep in touch with the office on the road, the A1000 is a viable option. Others may find that life is too short to wait for applications to load.

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It's a phone Jim, but not as we know it. The 162 gram PDA-esque form factor of the A1000, with its sprawling LCD, stylus and bottom-dwelling joystick, is, in the words of Kath and Kim, "nice, different, unusual".

Design
"Keypad? We don't need no keypad." Such is Motorola's confidence in the allure of the enormous (40 by 61 millimetres) touchscreen on the A1000 that they have done away with those pesky numbers all together. Instead, when you need to make a call, a finger-friendly virtual keypad appears on the screen. Seasoned texters may find the lack of a real keypad difficult to adapt to, as SMS input is done with a stylus and either a teeny onscreen keyboard or handwriting recognition. On the bright side, calloused thumbs are now an ailment of the past.

With such a heavy focus on touchscreen navigation, the design of the stylus becomes very important. Unlike the usual cylindrical designs, the A1000 version is flat and extendable. This makes it a little awkward to grip at first, but the ability to vary the stylus' length is quite cool.

The power switch on the side also functions as an iPod-esque lock button, giving more weight to the rumour that Apple design is quietly taking over the world.

Features
The A1000 is focused on taking care of business, with the main drawcards being 3's "Business Messaging" feature and the ability to view e-mail attachments in high resolution with the Picsel Viewer application.

Business Messaging takes mobile e-mail one step further by allowing access to files on the company LAN as well as IMAP and POP3 e-mail accounts, all behind a firewall to guard corporate secrets.

While this is definitely a business-focused phone, there is one game, "Shane Warne Cricket", which allows those still smarting from Australia's Ashes drubbing to seek revenge on England. The game is pretty dull and repetitive, but the impressive graphics should distract for long enough to prevent the sending of any mischievous Warnie-style texts.

There are two cameras: a 640 x 480 pixel lens above the screen and a 1.2 megapixel version on the back of the phone.

The A1000 is compatible with an alphabet soup of multimedia file names, including MIDI, MP3, AMR, WAV, AU, WMA, 3GA, MMA, MP4 and 3GP.

Internal memory is an acceptable 22MB, and can be beefed up with the addition of a 64- or 128MB TransFlash card.

Performance
The screen of the A1000 behaves like a rebellious teenager -- despite repeated pressing, it can take a while to get a response. Most applications -- from the text entry keyboard to the Web browser -- take around three seconds to load. That might not seem like much, but it did become frustrating for us during testing, and frequent users would definitely notice the lag.

Since being dazzled by the wondrous speakers of the Sony Ericsson Z800i, we have become as hard to please as Dicko when judging sound quality. When we played MP3 and video files, the speakers in the A1000 suffered from some tinniness at higher volumes and lacked that rich Sony sound, but true ringtones and alert sounds fared better.

The Picsel Viewer is a gem of an application, and one of the few that doesn't seem to suffer from a lag. PDF and Word files were a cinch to navigate, zoom in and out on and drag around the screen.

Like that eccentric uncle you only see at Christmas, the A1000 has some personality quirks that are just plain baffling. For instance, some downloaded files seem to vanish into the ether, and can only be located by connecting the phone to a computer via USB and perusing the contents using the Desktop Suite software. Then there's the strange internal reverberation that occurs when the phone is tapped -- even gently -- against a hard surface.

Whether you'll be impressed by the A1000 depends on whether you want a phone for work or leisure. For business users who need to view documents on the run, the Picsel Viewer and Business Messaging features are pretty impressive. For non-business users, the amount of time spent waiting for things to happen may be too much of an annoyance.

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