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Posts Tagged ‘Motorola’

Motorola 89494N Motorola TX500 Bluetooth Speakerphone

May 30th, 2011 10 comments

2 Stars- techdad

Motorola TX500 Bluetooth Speakerphone

Motorola makes a lot of mobile phone accessories and a majority of them are considered to be of very good quality. The TX500 Bluetooth speakerphone is the latest addition to their Bluetooth speakerphone collection. It touts long battery life, one-mic noise reduction, and basic voice prompts at a reasonable price. Let’s see what $60 gets you from Motorola these days.

PROS

  • Incredible battery life
  • Physical On/Off switch
  • Basic voice prompts
  • Quick connection
  • Pair up to 6 phones (two at the same time)

CONS

  • Average sound quality
  • Average noise reduction
  • Volume too low
  • Status lights are too complicated

 

Motorola TX500 Contents

CONTENTS, BUILD QUALITY, & DESIGN
The TX500 comes with a car charger and short manual. The visor clip is permanently mounted on the speakerphone unit.

The build quality of the TX500 is solid, though the thin visor clip makes me wonder about its durability. It has a mic mute button, volume up, volume down, answer/end and power switch. You can use different combinations of the buttons to perform specific functions, like turning off voice prompts.

Motorola TX500 Front

USAGE
Pairing a phone to the TX500 was very easy. It supports pairing a combined six phones, allowing the entire family to use it at any given time. You can even have two phones paired with it at the same time. The TX500 connected to my phone amazingly fast each time I turned it on.

The TX500 makes use of voice prompts, which a lot of manufacturer’s are including now. It’s a heck of a lot easier to understand than deciphering blinking lights and beep sequences. Unfortunately, the voice prompts are very basic and the TX500 still uses a lot of confusing blinking light combinations to communicate status.

Making and receiving calls on the TX500 was very simple. The mute button worked fine and the volume buttons had a good feel. Unfortunately, I had to max out the volume on it for the duration of my testing because it was very hard to hear. Unless you drive a vehicle with excellent cabin noise filtering, the TX500 will be nearly impossible to use. I eventually got so frustrated with it that I ended my calls prematurely and used my headset instead. Maybe those Motorola test engineers need to step out of their Cadillac’s and Lexus’ and test it out on some other cars.

SOUND QUALITY
In my testing, sound quality on both ends was just average. Both parties could make out what was being said but it wasn’t close to being great. Also, the noise reduction didn’t seem to help a heck of a lot when I drove with the radio on or had the windows down.

BATTERY LIFE
The strongest feature of the TX500 is its phenomenal battery life. It is rated at 45 hours for talk time and 6 months on standby, which exceeds other speakerphones I have tested, by a mile.

CONCLUSION
The Motorola TX500 Bluetooth speakerphone is a below-average Bluetooth speakerphone that happens to have amazing battery life. I’m not entirely sure who Motorola is targeting with the TX500. It’s around the same price as the BlueAnt S3, that just kills the TX500 in terms of performance and features. The biggest issue by far with the TX500 is the lack of volume. No matter the features, if I can’t hear my calls, it is pointless. I recommend looking at speakerphones from BlueAnt or Plantronics instead.

Available from Amazon.com.

* Review sample provided by Motorola

Trident Kraken for Motorola Droid X

January 3rd, 2011 4 comments

4 Stars- techdad

Trident Kraken for Droid X

The Kraken case for the Motorola Droid X by Trident is one of a few rugged cases available for the Droid X. Similar rugged cases are offered by Seidio as well as the original rugged case maker, Otterbox. I gave the Kraken a try recently and came away impressed, but found a major usability drawback.

PROS

  • Rock solid protection
  • Easy to install & remove
  • Buttons are easily actuated
  • Attractive, durable appearance
  • Dust protection
  • Camera lens protection
  • Screen protection
  • Excellent port protection

CONS

  • Droid X notification bar nearly impossible to operate
  • Silicon cover attracts dust and lint
  • Screen protector easy to scratch

When I got my Droid X a few months ago, I always intended to replace it immediately with a better case. I had purchased the basic TPU case from Verizon in the interim and wasn’t happy with it because it didn’t offer a great deal of protection and the buttons were very hard to press. I waited and waited for Otterbox to release their Defender case and when they finally did, I found that Seidio also offered a rugged case and while looking at reviews, stumbled upon the Kraken by Trident. I had never heard of Trident but the user reviews I read were very positive versus the cases from Otterbox and Seidio. I had to find out for myself.

Kraken (front)

Kraken (back)

PROTECTION
The Kraken is a three-piece case. The first two parts are the polycarbonate, top and bottom pieces. A 3M PET screen protector is permanently attached to the top piece. As a nice surprise, Trident includes a camera lens protector as well that you can choose to stick to the back of the polycarbonate piece. I elected not to apply it because I had heard that it interfered with the camera, especially when using the flash. The third piece is the silicon wrap that goes around the entire polycarbonate body. Most rugged cases are built similarly with silicon and polycarbonate components to the case. Some even include a holster but the Kraken does not. Assembly was very easy and took me about 2 minutes. Disassembling it was just as easy. In addition to offering impact protection, the Kraken also has thin filters that cover the mic and speakers to repel dust. Also, every single port is covered by the silicon wrap with covers for the headphone jack and the USB and HDMI ports. The port covers remove and reattach very well. Overall, the protection gained by using the Kraken is unparalleled in my opinion.

Kraken Droid X vs. Naked Droid X

USAGE
I found using the Kraken case on my Droid X to be good for the most part. The buttons were very easy to use and port access was exceptional. However, I found two drawbacks. The first and most annoying was that the Droid X notification bar was nearly impossible for me to access. The notification bar is located at the top part of the screen that displays the time, battery status, signal strength, etc. Normally, users can touch the notification bar and swipe down to see alerts like new email messages, text messages, facebook alerts, and similar. But because the Kraken polycarbonate shell surrounds the screen with such precision, you can’t get your finger past the top lip to select or drag the notification bar down.  The other drawback I found was that the 3M PET screen protector reduced the touch screen’s responsiveness. It didn’t change it by a large amount and I’m sure I can adjust to it, but I did notice it.

Kraken Droid X vs. Naked Droid X

MISC
Within an hour of installing the Kraken, I found tiny scratches and swirls on the screen protector. I’m very much a perfectionist and it bugged me to no end that the screen had scratches already. Anyone who uses a smart phone knows that during daily usage, the screen gets smudgy with fingerprints and oil from your face. Throughout the day, I’m used to just taking my t-shirt and wiping it clean. I’m not sure how long the Kraken’s screen protector will last at this rate. Unfortunately, since the screen protector is permanently attached, I don’t think it is easy to replace.

Like all cases that use silicon materials, the Kraken attracts dust and lint. Again, being the perfectionist that I am, this really bothered me. I knew going in that the outer cover was a silicon wrap so I did expect this problem somewhat but I didn’t realize it would look this bad so quickly.

The Kraken’s polycarbonate shell comes in blue, yellow, black, red and ballistic green. As an accessory, they also sell different colored silicon skins in several different colors.

Kraken Droid X vs. Naked Droid X

CONCLUSION
If you are fashion-conscious or looking to keep the slim appearance of your Droid X, the Trident Kraken is NOT for you. If however, you are a klutz, accident prone, or your work conditions warrant maximum protection, the Kraken will definitely keep your Droid X safe. There are some usage and aesthetic sacrifices but no real deal breakers if your number one priority is protecting your phone. For those users, I recommend the Kraken case by Trident.  But for me, the inability to use the notification bar was a major drawback that had me reluctantly going back to my Verizon TPU case.

Available from Trident Case.

Categories: Reviews Tags: , , , ,

ZAGG invisibleSHIELD for Motorola Droid X (Screen)

December 7th, 2010 No comments

3 Stars- techdad

I have been using ZAGG InvisibleSHIELD products for a couple of years now and have it on several devices I own. When it came time to protect my Droid X’s large, beautiful screen, I only thought of one screen protector. I eventually figured out that ZAGG isn’t optimal for touch screen devices.

  • Decent protection
  • Can be inexpensive with discount codes
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Good customer service
  • Distorts screen clarity
  • Tacky surface creates too much friction
  • Can be difficult to install

I had the dubious responsibility of installing several different types of screen protectors on Droid X’s. One came out as clear winner. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the ZAGG.

INSTALL
First of all, I have always disliked ZAGG packaging. They keep changing it and they’re still a pain to open. If you have never installed this type of screen protector, then you will probably have a very hard time installing it so it would be a good idea to watch their install videos. After having installed about 10 ZAGG screen protectors, I have a good sense of what works. If you don’t do it right, you can actually damage your InvisibleSHIELD during installation. My biggest advice during install is to use the liquid solution generously and wipe up the excess right away. Also keep a can of compressed air handy. The bummer about this type of screen protector is that you have to wait 12-24 hours for it to cure and for your device to dry

PERFORMANCE
I have never had a device’s screen get scratched or damaged while being protected by an InvisibleSHIELD. So ultimately, it does work. But, for touch screen devices, I find the tacky feel to be less than ideal. It creates a lot of friction and makes swiping on the screen more difficult than it should be. Additionally, I found that it actually compromises the clarity of the screen. I did a direct comparison between a Droid X with a ZAGG and one with a different screen protector and it was a stark contrast.

WARRANTY & SUPPORT
ZAGG does actually have a great warranty and good support so kudos for that. Whenever I’ve needed a replacement, they have sent them out and it’s easy to do using their website. Unfortunately, they charge you $4 for the shipping and handling.

ALTERNATIVE PRODUCTS
Besides the ZAGG, I tried two other products for my Droid X. I tried the 3-pack of protectors from Verizon and the splash Masque. I’ll say it right now that the splash Masque is the best. It was crystal clear, fairly easy to install, and the least expensive! I can’t recommend the Verizon one at all. Though it is basically the same as the splash Masque, it is cut to the dimensions of the display only and not the screen. The splash is cut to the entire screen. The splash is also cut closer to the edges than the ZAGG. The ZAGG still leaves quite a bit of room which is annoying. I got a lot of dust buildup around all four edges when using the ZAGG.

SUMMARY
ZAGG is still a nice product for certain devices, but generally overpriced. For touch screen devices like the Droid X, the ZAGG interferes too much with screen clarity and impedes the use of the touch screen. I personally prefer screen protectors like the splash Masque for my Droid X.

Available from Amazon.com.

Categories: Reviews Tags: , ,

Motorola Micro Charger w/ data cable

December 6th, 2010 No comments
4 Stars- techdad
I purchased these from Bargain Cell for my Droid X.  They are identical in every way including output ratings of 5.1v === 850mA.   The part number for the cable is SKN5004A while the charger’s is SPN5504A.  These are exactly the same as what came in my Droid X box.

As any Droid X owner knows, the Droid X gulps battery power and you can’t have enough chargers. I also happen to have a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) case for my DX.  Unfortunately, the thicker cable ports on my long micro USB cables do not insert flush inside the micro USB port of my DX.  However, the Motorola OEM cable ends are very thin and therefore plug in more easily and stay plugged in.  This is why I only sought out chargers and cables that were Motorola OEM.

Keep in mind that the cable is short.  This works well when charging from a counter top location but terrible if you’re running the charger from the ground to the top of a desk. In that case, you can always use USB extension cables, which is what I’m doing with one of the 4 chargers I have.  Lastly, Bargain Cell shipped the charger quickly and I received it on the same day as a charger I ordered at the same time from Amazon using 2-day shipping.

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Motorola Original Travel Charger

December 6th, 2010 No comments
4 Stars- techdad

My battery gulping Droid X required me to have multiple charging options.  The original charger had a short cable so I purchased this OEM Motorola charger (SPN5334A) for the dresser in the bedroom.  Output is rated at 5.0v/550mA while the original charger included in the Droid X box is 5.1v/850mA.  It charges slower but since we are charging it while sleeping overnight, it works out perfect.

Also, the reason why I am only seeking out OEM chargers is because of the case I’m using with the Droid X. The thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) case I am using does not allow the thicker cable ports to insert flush inside the micro USB port.  However, the Motorola OEM cable ends are very thin and therefore plug in more easily and stay plugged in.

The Motorola SPN5334A OEM charger is a good charger, with sufficient length, but keep in mind that it’ll charge newer smartphones (Droid, Incredible, Droid X) at a slower rate than the original chargers.

Categories: Reviews Tags: ,

Motorola Droid A855 (Verizon)

December 6th, 2010 No comments

4 Stars- techdad

Is the Droid a phone? Computer? Personal media player? PDA? Navigation? It is all of the aforementioned. THE killer Verizon smart phone has landed with a resounding kaboom!

PROS

  • Gorgeous 3.7-inch (480×854) screen
  • Tight Google application integration
  • Amazing HTML browser
  • Microsoft Exchange support
  • Good 5MP digicam
  • Surprisingly good camcorder
  • 802.11b/g Wi-Fi
  • Google Maps Navigation makes standalone GPS units obsolete
  • Large selection of free and paid apps available
  • Slide-out full QWERTY keyboard

CONS

  • Power hungry device gulps battery life
  • Touch screen is extremely sensitive
  • Bluetooth/headset voice dialing unavailable
  • Heavy (5.9 ounces)
  • Lacks physical direct dial/end buttons
  • Physical keyboard could use improvements
  • Short USB charging cable
  • Included microSD card is Class 2

My two previous phones were the LG Dare and the Blackberry Curve. Without much research, I walked into a Verizon store on the Droid’s launch day and bought the Motorola Droid. Initial uneasiness turned into sheer joy. The Droid amazes me at every moment. Here’s why:

SCREEN
The 3.7-inch, 480×854 resolution touch screen is stellar! Everything is crystal clear. I transferred Finding Nemo to it and wow! When I moved to the Blackberry from the Dare, the large screen real estate is what I missed most. I compared the screen with a friend’s iPhone and we both concluded that the Droid’s screen is better. My only gripe about the screen is that it is extremely sensitive. I put a snap-on cover on it as well as a screen protector and it has helped immensely. The snap-on cover surrounds the screen with a little extra space so your fingers don’t accidentally touch the screen. I originally used the Verizon screen protector, but recommend the ZAGG. The ZAGG feels more “tacky” so when I’m using the screen, I feel I can be more precise when typing or swiping. As far as I’m aware, there’s no setting to modify the screen’s sensitivity.

KEYBOARD
I have a hard time with touch screen keyboards, which is why the slide-out keyboard on the Droid was so important to me initially. The screen slides up about half way up to reveal the physical keyboard. The keys are flat, right next to each other, with limited key travel and backlit. It takes a little while to get used to but I’ve gotten good at it with practice. Still, I can type at least twice as fast on my Blackberry Curve. The touch screen keyboard is actually better than I expected. After a couple of months of use, I’ve essentially ignored the physical keyboard in favor of the touchscreen keyboard. A really nice feature when typing on the touch screen is autocomplete. For example, if I type “hel”, it will list “Hel, he’ll, help, held, hello…” then you can just touch the word you want.

CALLING
The Droid has very good signal strength and the call quality is also excellent on both ends. Speakerphone is adequate as well. My first annoyance with making calls is that there are no dedicated dial/end buttons. In order to make a call, you must touch the “Phone” icon and dial the number or sort through contacts. I did find that you can create direct dial shortcuts on your screen. This allows you to dial a contact number with one touch of the icon. I have one of my 3 screens dedicated solely for direct dial shortcuts. The second annoyance is that you cannot initiate voice dialing via a Bluetooth headset! If you want to initiate a call, you have to use the phone interface. This is a major drawback as I always use headset voice dialing to place calls when I’m driving. You can still answer and end calls with a headset though.

GOOGLE INTEGRATION
If you’re already a heavy Google user, Android OS smart phones are almost a necessity. If you’re not yet a heavy Google user, the Droid will assimilate you. Gmail is such a joy to use I haven’t checked my e-mail on my computers since the Droid. Google Maps is easy and fun to use and includes Latitude. Google Talk couldn’t be simpler and heavy messaging sessions are fatigue-free with the slide-out physical keyboard. Swiping the chat screen left or right allows you to change chat sessions which lets you to carry on multiple chats with ease! Google Calendar is almost better on the Droid than on an actual browser.

HTML BROWSER
The Droid’s web browser puts Blackbery’s browser to shame, but that’s not hard to do. For kicks, I also installed Opera mini on the Droid and almost immediately uninstalled it. The Android browser is a superior browser to all others except for possibly Mobile Safari.

CAMERA
The Droid has a nice 5MP auto-focus digital camera with flash as well as a 720×480 @ 24fps camcorder. Both of them perform well. The still camera’s autofocus is buggy however. When I activate the camera, the area near the lens makes a peculiar noise and the autofocus doesn’t always work. Verizon is preparing an OTA update on 12/10/09 to address this and other bugs/enhancements. The camcorder is good enough that I’d have no problem leaving my Flip camcorder at home most of the time. Of course, both the still and video camera falter in low light so keep your real camera and camcorder for those really special events.

MUSIC
I plugged in my Sennheiser HD280Pro headphones and enjoyed listening to my MP3′s. The built-in speaker also sounds pretty good for a phone. The Droid comes with a 16GB microSD card for storage and supports up to 32GB but is a slow Class 2. It would have been nice to get at least a Class 4 for faster read/write performance. To get music onto the Droid, you just drag and drop or you can use a Motorola application called Media Link. You can also use your MP3′s as ringtones. I would recommend using Audacity to clip a song you like down to 30 seconds or less at 128kbps to save space.

802.11b/g Wi-Fi
The Droid’s Wi-Fi connection is pretty good and I can take it all over my 2-story home and stay connected. It’s also picked up many of my neighbor’s wireless networks. When the phone goes to sleep, it will shut off the Wi-Fi service to save battery power. Interestingly, the Wi-Fi connection is only nominally faster than using the high speed 3G Verizon network. Next to the screen, I’ve found Wi-Fi to be the biggest battery drain.

GOOGLE MAPS NAVIGATION
Here’s something I did not expect. The Droid comes with a beta version of Google’s turn-by-turn voice navigation application that ties in directly with Google Maps. Search for a location then have the navi direct you there by voice. I tried it twice so far and it has been spot on! What am I going to do with my Garmin now?? For me, this app was the clincher. Just be sure to connect it to a power source for long trips because the navi will drain the battery mighty quick.

MISC
You can quickly browse thousands of Android apps and search for them by name. Must have apps include Advanced Task Killer, Movies (by Flixster), Pandora, WeatherBug, and Google Voice. On the down-side, the Droid is quite heavy. Having come from the Curve, it was very noticeable. Also, with heavy usage, the battery may not last an entire work day, so carry a charger with you.

ACCESSORIES
Accessories are still pretty thin for the Droid. A screen protector and case were a must for me. I got both from Verizon directly. I eventually tossed the silicone case from Verizon and picked up the perfect case by Seidio. Next, I needed a car mount but the Droid windshield mount would not work for me because I use a case and in California, I cannot mount it anywhere but the lower left corner. I prefer to mount it in the middle so I purchased a generic vent/adhesive mount from Verizon. I used the adhesive to stick it directly to my dash. It works fairly well except that when going over anything but smooth terrain, it wobbles a bit. I may decide to use the Bracketron Dash Pad in combination with Kensington Dash Car Mount for iPhone and iPod. This will allow me to mount the Droid in the center of my dash and swivel it from portrait to landscape as well as leave space to plug in a car charger. To complete the auto installation, I bought the Kensington Mini Car Charger for Mobile Devices with USB Port and plugged in the short USB cable that came with Droid. Voila! A Droid car kit for about $45.

SUMMARY
I could go on and on about the Droid but Amazon limits my reviews to 1000 or so words. Even with the minor drawbacks, the Droid is easily the best hand held device I have ever owned. It replaces so many of my other devices that I can overlook those minor drawbacks and enjoy using it every second of the day. It is probably the single best technology purchase I have ever made.

UPDATE 12/04/09
I had to exchange my Droid for another one because the case I was using snagged on one of the keys and ripped it right off. The new replacement Droid has been ROCK SOLID and uptime has been over 2 weeks! No reboots, no forced app closures. Maybe it’s my imagination, but the battery life seems to be better as I have gone at least 24 hours between chargings, except when I have used the GPS navigation. I’m still hoping Google provides an update in Android 2.0.1 for Bluetooth voice commands, though I didn’t see anything in the changelogs about it. I believe the OTA update is still due in a week or so. Also interesting to note is that a version of the Droid WITHOUT the slide out keyboard and a built-in FM tuner is rumored to be coming out, but no word if it’ll be available in the US or through Verizon.

UPDATE 12/10/09
I looked at my phone earlier and low and behold, I got a message that a software update was available. It downloaded and installed in less than 2 minutes and required a reboot. The first thing I noticed was that the unlock screen was different. The half circle swipe to unlock has been changed to just a left to right swipe while a right to left swipe will turn the sound on and off. Also, the font for the clock changed. Also, I swear there didn’t used to be a Verizon Wireless banner on the unlock screen before, but there is now.

The big fix for version 2.0.1 was the camera’s autofocus. And what do you know. It’s fixed! I also noticed that the Power Control widget has gone through a face lift. I have not noticed any other changes really as I’ve yet to make a call on it since I only updated it 20 minutes ago. Call quality was supposed to have been improved as well. I am bummed they did not add Bluetooth voice dialing, but I didn’t expect it anyways. Maybe another update down the road, please!!

UPDATE 03/30/2010
Official Verizon info on the 2.1 update has finally been released. Pinch-to-zoom is available in the gallery, browser, and Google maps. New weather & news widgets. New voice-to-text entry. New 3D gallery layout. Live wallpapers! Official support for Yahoo! Mail, finally. Night-mode screen in navigation for easier viewing. And a few other minor improvements. Not a bad update. After a couple of false starts over a couple of months, the latest rollout date is 3/30/10, today. 1000 users will receive the update notice at noon today with another 9000 around midnight. If all goes well, apparently the remaining users will get it on 4/1/10.

UPDATE 4/10/2010
It was taking forever to get the update on my Droid so I performed a manual update to 2.1. While I do like it, it wasn’t as cool an update as I expected. My favorite part of the update was the new gallery. Now, I can view my photos full screen and swipe them to get to the next photo. Previously, I had to touch a directional arrow in order to navigate and swiping is just so much easier. The Live wallpapers were uninspiring and also slowed my phone down so I stopped using it. The weather and news widgets are just ok and I can get the same functionality in other apps so it’s not earth shattering by any means.

Available from Amazon.com.

Categories: Reviews Tags: , , ,

Motorola Droid Multimedia Docking Station

December 5th, 2010 No comments

4 Stars- techdad

I ordered the Motorola Droid Multimedia Station on the Droid’s release day because I thought it was a cool idea. I didn’t see it in person until it was delivered to my door and the geek in me loves it!

PROS

  • Nice build quality
  • Non-skid base
  • Turns your Droid into an alarm clock and weather station
  • Sync your data via USB cable
  • Just plain cool looking

CONS

  • Will not work with cases
  • Somewhat expensive

The box includes four items– the actual dock, a micro USB cable, an AC adapter, and a user guide. The dock itself is very well made and is quite hefty in weight. You won’t accidentally knock this dock around from your desk especially since it also has a non-skid base. The dock has a micro USB port that you plug the cable into and then you plug the other end into the AC adapter. This of course, powers and charges your Droid, which is perfect for your nightstand. If you want to sync your Droid, just plug the micro USB cable into your PC. This will charge your Droid too, but at a much slower rate and only when your PC is powered on.

When you dock the Droid in, the orientation changes automatically to landscape. You select what city you want your weather widget to display and boing, you have your multimedia station. The dock has magnets located in specific areas to activate this mode, which can also be activated by using an app called “Dockrunner.”

The price has dropped a lot since it first came out and makes a great accessory for those still using the original Droid. An audio out or built-in stereo speakers would’ve been cool but no biggie!

Available from Amazon.com.

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