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REVIEW: Qtek 8500 Windows Mobile Smartphone aka HTC Star Trek - Part I
Posted by Arne Hess - on Monday, 08.05.06 - 12:30:48 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 77798x
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Lightweight and ultra slim, the recently announced Qtek 8500 (aka HTC Star Trek or as it is called now "STRTrk") offers a comprehensive range of entertainment and office functions and incorporates a high quality camera that allow you to take full advantage of any free time. This stylish, but hard working mobile places you firmly in control with high speed Internet surfing and data downloads linked through the latest connectivity technologies like quad-band GSM, EDGE and Bluetooth.

The Qtek 8500 is a typical clamshell phone but HTC's first clamshell Windows Mobile Smartphone. It's using Microsoft's latest Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone operating system and measures 98.5mm x 51,4mm x 15,8mm and weights 99g including battery. It's sporting a TI OMAP 850 CPU, running at 200MHz and has 64 MB of ROM and 64 MB of RAM.

Since the Qtek 8500 addresses a different, more lifestyle focused customer segment, than all the HTC forerunners, it's missing W-LAN support. Nevertheless, the dedicated music buttons ensure that you have an easy to use personal soundtrack always within reach. A unique combination of power, size and flexibility delivers the synergy of desktop computing with a mobile phone. Now you can choose whether to work or play.
The Qtek 8500, which will be available end of May across Europe (and in June in the U.K.) from Qtek itself, will be available in three fashionable colors: black, pink and silver (while silver is new, the previously shown red version will not be released at all):

The main body of the front panel and battery cover will be available in the previous mentioned colors and are a kind of aluminum. The lower part of the front and back are always black plastic with a nice "soft-touch" feeling.

On the front panel, the device is sporting a 1.3 megapixel camera, unfortunately without a photo light, and a second 1.2" display with 128x128 pixels which provides battery status, profile status, missed call and incoming call information as well as incoming message notification, alarm information, Bluetooth, volume up/down and GSM/GPRS status information. It can be also used as a mirror for self-portrait photos and shows all media player relevant information if the devices is used as a MP3 player. To make the media player use even more convenient, it's also sporting three dedicated media player buttons with back, play/pause and forward bellow the screen. However, the same keys are also used for special functions of the camera, if in self-portrait mode:

On the right side, you have one button only, the camera button which starts the camera application as well as can be used as shutter. On the left side you have on top the Communication Manager button and bellow the volume up/down buttons:

The device features a 2.2" QVGA main-display with a 65k colors TFT LCD with white LED backlight. The keyboard is made of a kind of "single piece" flat metal (similar to Motorola's RAZR V3) and bellow the keyboard, the device has, on the right side, the microphone and on the left side a light sensor which controls the keyboard backlight:

The only connector the Qtek 8500 has is the HTC propriety "flat USB" connector which is used to sync and recharge the device as well as used to connect the headset:

The battery is a Lithium ion polymer battery with 750 mAh and should provide, according to the specification sheet, a standby time of 100 - 150 hours and a talk time of 2,5 - 5 hours.
As all Windows Mobile Smartphones, also the Qtek 8500 supports extend storage space using flash memory cards. However, unlike all other HTC Smartphones before, the HTC Star Trek is using microSD flash cards.
In this case, the microSD card is plugged-in under the SIM card (before the SIM is plugged in) which means it can not be accessed without removing the battery cover (which switches off the device automatically) and the SIM card.

The sales package includes the device, the standard battery, an 110 - 220 Volt AC adapter, one USB sync cable, a stereo wired headset with microphone, the user manual, a Quick Start Guide and two software CDs including ActiveSync, Outlook 2002 and ClearVue Office applications:

Final Conclusion

The Qtek 8500 is something completely different to what we've seen in the past from HTC regarding Windows Mobile Smartphones - it's a lifestyle and fashion-device which can also attract - I'm sure - non-Windows Mobile fans but just regular mobile phone users. It's continuing the way, Motorola has introduced with its RAZR V3 (which stands model for the Qtek 8500) mobile and thin is beautiful, no question. Also the used materials and colors makes this device a mobile phone for the young and lifestyle orientated generation. Hardcore Windows Mobile users might miss features like W-LAN support, UMTS or IrDA but the regular mobile phone user will not miss it at all, I'm sure. Therefore this approach, to introduce a "prosumer" orientated mobile phone can helps Windows Mobile Smartphone to get a wider reach.

I'm pretty happy with the overall quality of the Star Trek I got for this review. It feels rocking solid, has a nice touch and is far away from what we've seen with the first Windows Mobile Smartphones, back in 2002. With the Qtek 8500, the Smartphone hardware became mature and mass-market ready.

Just from the regular user point of view, it is mass-market ready (as I said before - only hardcore Windows Mobile phone fans might miss some features) since it looks attractive (and even more important) state-of-the-art, has all state-of-the-art features (like megapixel camera) on board and can do even more, thanks to the Windows Mobile operating system.

The only disappointments I found so far are the "flat USB" connector as well as the overall micoSD thing.
Even the Motorola RAZR V3, which is a little bit thinner then the Star Trek features a standard mini USB plug, so why to use another USB plug for the Star Trek? Basically it means we can throw away all our current USB to mini USB cables and accessories (chargers, car chargers, GPS antennas, etc) to buy a new set of accessories. For a standard user not a big deal at all, for Smartphone lover it is definitely a big deal. At least a mini USB to flat USB adapter would be handy, if part of the sales package. Same with the microSD card. Another SD card standard we have to upgrade to. Sure, microSD is already pretty common in the GSM industry and you can even get 1 GB microSD cards for around 79 Euro but at the moment 1 GB is more or less the payable limit (which is easily used for navigation maps, some MP3 songs, etc). I can see, that a regular SD card would be way too big but why not using miniSD instead, many users have switched to already. Last but not least the place where the microSD is place, under the SIM card. The SIM is always a fragile piece of technology and while it isn't changed to much, a microSD card might be changed way more. However, the way it is placed here means you also have to remove the SIM card, not a good idea at all.

But anyway, beside this three downsides, the overall impression of the Qtek 8500 is quite positive and as I said before - I might not be the typical customer for the device (even if I would use it as my regular device as well) and therefore the three issues above might disappoints me more than it might bothers a normal user.

Stay tuned for part II of my HTC Star Trek review, where I will have a deeper look into its software and features.

Cheers ~ Arne

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