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Motorola Motoming A1200
They never fail to surprise me, this company. Their phones are techno marvels when it comes to design and innovation. The Motorola MOTOMING A1200 is certainly no exception – it is a full-featured business smartphone, but it looks stylish enough to appeal to a ramp model. Why it called the Ming? Well, in Mandarin, it’s supposed to mean clear and bright. Let’s find out how true that is.
Motorola loves their clamshells. They’ve got a trademark on using the term “flip phone,” after all. But the MING has taken it to a new level. The flip is actually a transparent hard plastic cover for the large touch-sensitive screen. But it’s not just a cover – it also holds the earpiece of the phone! What makes it look really astounding is the fact the speaker appears like it’s not connected to the phone at all, but if you look closely, you'll see 2 really thin wires run along the edges and down to the speaker. Adds a bit to the design as well. The transparent casing also has a magnifying effect, but don’t really try to use it for that.
On the inside you’ll find a truly vivid, bright and crystal clear 2.4" touch screen display sporting 262K colors with a resolution of 320x240 pixels. I guess this is where the Ming gets its name from! Just below the screen you’ll find a tiny 5 way joystick between two keys for taking and ending calls.
On the rear there’s the 2.0 megapixel camera and the slot to store the stylus. It’s a bit tricky figuring out where your SIM or SD card should go. The design is so flawless that it makes you think the entire phone is sealed, when all you need do is lightly slide the back panel down, et voila.
On the right side you’ll see the camera and voice command keys and at the bottom is the mini USB slot. On the left are the volume keys and in between them is another selection key that can be used when the flap is closed. At the bottom is the 2.5mm socket for the handsfree or earphones.
I’m not the biggest fan of the stylus operated devices, but the MING is quite comfortable to hold and to use. The whole device may appear to be a bit bulky from the way it looks in the pictures and also the heavy specs, and even though it is a bit on the heavier side at 122gm, it’s quite compact at 95.7 x 51.7 x 21.5.
Motorola has again used Linux OS on this one just like its predecessors. That’s nothing to get scared of, though - the user interface is simple and easy to navigate with large and clear icons that are quite evenly spaced. The sub menus are also easy enough to figure your way around. And options are provided for most requirements. The menus are actually easy enough to navigate by using the keys on the outside even if the flap is closed.
The best part about this phone is the 'Talking Phone' feature that uses Motorola’s 'ClearTalk' technology. What this essentially does is actually read out your mails or SMS and also let you know what menu option you’ve chosen. Now personally I wouldn’t want some weird voice reading out my private messages while in public, but this would come in real handy while driving, when I should ideally NOT be interacting directly with my phone. It can also come in handy for the visually impaired. Although the pronunciations of some words are a little robotic at best and I don’t have to tell you how it voices out SMS short forms. But it is good for a laugh.
Similarly the voice command function is also a bit odd. If I were to say a persons name to be dialed it would call out the name or command it recognized (most times a name other than the one I used) and ask me if that's correct. I would then have to answer with a "Yes" or "No" for it to follow though and dial the number or execute the command. A rather lengthy process. And if you have a bad throat forget about using this function altogether.
The good thing is, you don't always have to use the stylus to navigate through the menus. You could simply use your thumb or finger. Even to type messages. I don’t recommend this option to be used frequently as it just may damage the screen. But this is just so you know it’s not difficult. So if one of your hands isn’t free, texting or navigating through the menus can be easily done 'by hand'.
Now like I said, I’m not particularly fond of the whole 'remove stylus-use both hands' navigation system. But I did find that I could type messages using the screen keyboard, without the stylus. It’s not too easy, but it’s doable. Another option is the handwriting recognition tool which is actually a real pain to use since it accepts only one character at a time and also requiring you to draw the characters in a specific format. This takes too much of time. I don’t have the patience and nor would a businessman. Other options are keyboards in Pinyin and Zhuyin. Why not Hindi or Marathi?
The business card reader is a great feature to have. But the only problem is that it’s not very easy to use. The camera is switched on and needs to be set to macro mode. The card needs to be aligned with the markings on the screen and you could either click on the red dot to capture the image or if the markings turn green it’ll automatically capture the image. When it comes to names and numbers it’s quite accurate but not with email addresses. I haven’t been able to capture an email address successfully. But that’s probably because I couldn’t keep the phone steady. I’m not sure anyone can. It also needs a sufficient amount of light. But it is pretty darn useful nevertheless.
The search feature is excellent for when you’re not sure where your files are. Simply click on the type of file you’re looking for and if you want the name. Let the phone do the rest. It’ll scour the passageways of the phone and the external memory card till it finds what your looking for. Much like a search on a PC.
Other features are pretty standard as mobiles go like calendar, alarm, converter, notes, calculator, file browser, tasks etc.
Connectivity & Web
The web browser is one of the better features in the Ming. Not only does it have an option to view pages on the whole screen but I like the fact I can open more than 2 pages at a time. And it doesn’t slow the phone down at all. The Ming has email support for POP3, IMAP4 and CMCC Mail (China Mobile Communications Corp). The phone also has a built in option to use the phone as a modem via USB.
The phone has GPRS support, but no EDGE. It’s a bit odd that a smartphone in this price category doesn’t have EDGE. Here’s another big problem: the Ming is not compatible with BPL Mobile’s implementation of GPRS. Hutch and Airtel users will have no problem at all. If you’re on BPL Mobile (like Aalaap), don’t jump to buy this phone just yet.
Aside from Internet connectivity, the phone is equipped with Bluetooth and is A2DP compatible as well. Very Nice. I did try it with a set of Bluetooth headphones and quite enjoyed the experience of wireless connectivity. The Ming can be connected to the PC using the mini USB slot and files can be easily backed up or transferred as it shows up as a mass storage device.
Multimedia & Memory
The Ming uses RealPlayer as its default media player. Let’s start off with music. Oh… for want of an equalizer. But don’t misunderstand - the output may be a tad low, but the quality is excellent. Creating playlists of your favorite tracks is easy as pie. The player reads MP3, WAV, WMA, and AAC+ formats. Now on to video. The player supports MPEG4 and H.263 formats. The player utilizes the full 2.4-inch screen in landscape quite efficiently and the overall clarity is quite superb. Thank heavens! The phone is also equipped with an integrated FM radio and the pick up is great.
The phone only has 8MB of internal memory. Tsk Tsk. Too little. But thanks goodness for the 512MB microSD card that’s provided. Too bad the phone doesn’t allow hot-swap of the card though. So the painful ritual of switching the phone off and removing the panel and battery has to be conducted. But how many times would you really remove a 512MB card to begin with. It’s adequate to store plenty of music, videos and pictures. Besides, 1GB microSD cards cost less than 700 bucks now.
The 2.0 megapixel camera combined with the vivid screen resolution is spot on for taking some great pictures. The camera interface is exactly like any other Motorola. There are plenty of features and styles to choose from. For example there’s a switch just above the lens that allows you to switch between macro and landscape shooting.
There are also a few options for different lighting and if you want to take a few arty shots there are options for black and white, sepia and others. Picture clarity on both video and stills is not too bad.
The photo editor software is great for personalizing pictures. It allows you to crop images according to your preference, do a little free style drawing using the touch screen and even adjust the sharpness, contrast or color of the picture. You can even add text to the image if you like.
I’ll just come out and say it. The battery sucks. This is the only big problem I have with the phone. The standard 850 mAh Li-ion battery doesn’t live up to the expectations of the phone. Now I know the brochure and any other source of information will tell you that you’ll get 7 hours of talk time, but that ain’t exactly true. I hardly got a little over 4 hours of talk time. Not good, Ming ol’ boy. Not good.
Another strange thing I encountered is if your battery is completely drained or you switch the phone on and connect to the charger or USB the antenna gets switched off and the phone can’t be used to make or receive calls. It says ‘Battery Charging’ on the main screen but the battery icon remains unchanged and the phone powers down on its own. But no issues if the phone is already on. Hmm… that puts a bit of a damper on things.
Aside from the rather disappointing battery life and the fact that it’s not too easy to 'write' messages, I have to say, WOWZERS! This is a great phone. It’s packed with features and its user friendly as well. That’s most important. At around Rs. 14,200, this is an amazingly good looking, compact, full touch-screen phone with all features: 2mp camera, media player, FM radio, memory card support, blah blah blah.
So the bottom line - Drop what you’re doing and go out and get one.
|Motorola MOTOMING A1200|
|Network||GSM 850/900/1800/1900, GPRS|
|Physical||95.7 x 51.7 x 21.5 mm, 122 g|
|Display||240x320, 256k colors, TFT, 36x48 mm|
|Memory||8mb internal, MicroSD (512 provided)|
|Media||MP3, AAC, FM, 3GP, MP4, Voice Recording, Photo editor|
|Camera||2 megapixels, video (QCIF)|
|Connectivity||USB 2.0 (mini USB), Bluetooth 2.0, A2DP|
|Battery||200 hours stand by, 4.5 hours talk time|
|Street Price||Rs. 14,200|