Motorola A1000 Review
Review by Jah - November 2004
2. SOFTWARE/APPLICATIONS OVERVIEW
The A1000 includes the standard Symbian OS 7.0/UIQ 2.1 applications as well as the Picsel document viewer and the Opera browser. Unlike the SE P910, the A1000 does not have a built-in document editing application like QuickOffice.
At the time of preparing this review, in November 2004, the A1000 on the UK 3 network is configured so that it is only possible to use the Opera browser to access content provided by 3 (this is not the case with all the 3 networks, in some countries full access is allowed to the internet is available either via GPRS or UMTS). The version of Opera used is 7.5 (build 708); this version supporting full screen viewing.
Picsel Document Viewer:
The built-in Picsel viewer is easy to use and can reproduce most of the details correctly for Microsoft Office applications and PDF files. Tests with Word, Excel and PowerPoint (Office 2002) showed that the majority of details were reproduced except for fonts and bullet points. One of the benefits of Picsel is that it can display documents in landscape and portrait format and in full-screen mode. The full-screen landscape mode being especially useful when viewing PowerPoint documents. Also, when emails are received with Office/PDF document attachments, Picsel can be used to view these documents from the email application.
The standard messaging options of SMS, POP3 & IMAP email and MMS are supported. Unlike the SE P910i, user definable folders are not supported in the messaging applications. Also, unlike many other smartphones there is no native support for RIM's Blackberry "push" email application.
All the standard Symbian OS 7.0/UIQ 2.1 PIM applications are supported for diary, to do, contacts and notes management and synchronisation with Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes (versions 4.5, 4.6, 5 and 6). The specific versions of Outlook that are supported are not documented but successful synchronisation with Outlook 2003 for contacts, diary, to dos was achieved; there is no option for synchronization of notes. In addition, to reduce memory usage, the date span of the synchronization can be controlled.
On the A1000 video application consists of the standard video playback (supporting MPEG4 and 3GPP), real-time video calls and video recording (but this is limited to 60 seconds). Downloaded videos from 3 network suggest the quality of playback (and sound) are very good, especially when using the full-screen option. Regarding download speeds, it is possible to download a 1 MB video in 30/35 seconds from the UK 3 network.
The A1000 also includes the standard Symbian OS audio application, which is compatible with MP3 and WMA formats. The A1000 retail package includes a stereo headset with integrated handsfree operation. Initial testing with 128 kbps encoded MP3s suggests the sound reproduction of this device is very good indeed.
The A1000 supports "themes"; this facility allows wallpapers and sounds to be swapped for the Phone application. This personalisation feature is not like the "skins" based themes used on the SE P9x0 devices. Additional themes are available on the A1000's CD.
On the 3 (UK) version of the A1000, the is a "home" screen which combines shortcuts to network services, a "today" screen and a single row launcher bar for application shortcuts (limited to three shortcuts). The configuration of this screen can be changed to some extent (for example it is possible to change the shortcuts).
Unlike on the SE Pxxx series, it is not possible to change the shortcuts across the top row of the display (unless you take advantage of 3rd party solutions).
The A1000, like the A925 before, supports text input using a virtual keyboard and hand writing recognition. Unlike the SE Pxxx series, the hand writing recognition requires input into a specific area of the screen/application. However, unlike the SE Pxxx, the A1000 support predictive text input for both the virtual keyboard and hand writing recognition input. This predictive text input application operates in a similar fashion to the third party application EziTap. The only issue with the text input on the A1000 is that it can take 3 seconds to launch the input application, which is about 2 seconds longer than on the SE P910.
The functions of the Motorola Desktop Suite are accessed from a set application shortcuts on a menu bar. The main shortcuts are: synchronisation, file browsing, application installation (all applications are installed on the C: drive, there are no options to install applications on the D: drive, i.e. the memory card), back-up, restore and settings.
Synchronisation, back-up and modem connections are achieved using a USB (serial) connection or a Bluetooth connection. For USB synchronisation, using version 18.104.22.1680, the speed of operation was much slower when compared to a similar operation using a SE P910 with SE's PC Suite software (and thus much much slower when compared to a Palm device such as Sony Clie TH55). However, file transfer and document management on the A1000 from a PC is similar in speed to that of the SE PC Suite version 3.1.1.
Also like the SE Pxxx series, when connected via the USB cable it is possible to utilise the internet connection of the PC (e.g. a broadband connection) to browse the internet using Opera (after disconnecting from the 3 network).
Software on the A1000 CD:
Unlike the older A920, the A1000 can be used a GPRS and UMTS modem (modem drivers are installed automatically when the A1000 is linked to a PC). There is an application called Simplify provided by Motorola, on the CD accompanying the A1000, to connect the PC to the Internet while using the A1000 as a GPRS/UMTS modem. The UMTS modem has theoretical 384 kbps download and 64 kbps upload data transfer speeds. The CD also includes a VPN application (movianVPN) for connecting to corporate networks.
The Motorola A1000 is a very comprehensive convergence device in a very slick and well designed package. It is difficult to truly compare this Motorola offering with offerings from other manufacturers as this device does have some unique features such as AGPS and 3G capabilities. It is, however, a significant advance over the A920/A925.
In the final analysis, if your requirements are for one device that can access 3G content (video downloads and video calling), multimedia (video and audio) and has navigation capabilities the A1000 should be at the top of your list. However, you may need to check which services are activated/locked on your device if you buy a network subsidised A1000 as opposed to a SIM free A1000. If on the other hand you are looking for a device that provides support for business functionality "out off the box" and you need lots of memory on your device you should consider other options such as the SE P910 or the Nokia 9500/9300. If your requirements are for high speed data on the move then the A1000 is a good option if your 3G network supports 3G data and has reasonable coverage but you may also wish to consider devices that support WiFi or EDGE such as the Nokia 9500 and the Nokia 9300 (again you need to consider the availability of EDGE and wireless networks in your country).
<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Part I: Hardware Overview