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Motorola Accompli 009 Review

Highs

  • Plenty of PDA and phone features

Rating

Our Score 6
User Score 10

Lows

  • Clumsy
  • non-intuitive design
...Motorola has taken a bold step with the Accompli...

Summary

My overall response to the Accompli is lukewarm. I applaud Motorola for not being constrained to traditional phone shapes. But the Accompli’s small screen size and difficult navigation made interacting with it ungratifying. And it’s functionality doesn’t offer significant enough advantages over other available PDA and phone solutions to make dealing with an interface I find clumsy worth it.

We are faced with many choices in the emerging wireless world. Among the top of them is what shape we wish our personal electronic helper to take. While Motorola has taken a bold step with the Accompli (abandoning established phone and PDA form factors), the user experience leaves something to be desired.

Motorola has given the Accompli a “clam shell” design – smooth on the outside, open it to reveal a miniature keyboard and color screen. Immediately apparent is that the Accompli has no integrated ear and mouthpiece for phone calls. Instead, a separate “hands free” ear piece must be used. This I like. I don’t believe wireless devices should be beholden to antique phone receiver form factors. But if you don’t like carrying and using a separate ear piece, this might not be for you.

The Accompli’s calling sound is crisp and clear. It is able to function on both GSM 900/1800/1900 and GPRS (general packet radio service) network protocols. This is key, as GPRS is poised to be rolled out in the U.S. and will enable richer, higher bandwidth mobile Internet services.

My first issue arose with the size of the Accompli’s screen. It has nice color, but is smaller than I would have guessed. Given the size of the Accompli, I expected at least an additional centimeter in both height and width.

The Accompli sports the standard cast of communication and organization features – voice calling, calendar (syncs with Outlook or other personal information management programs), contacts, SMS, web browser, and a splash of ring tones and games. Not so standard is an RF modem that enables you to connect to the Internet through a data cable and operate as you would from a PC. I question the usefulness of this feature in a mobile device – if I have access to a data line, why wouldn’t I just use a laptop or PC?

Moving on, I found navigation and data entry on the Accompli clumsy and non-intuitive. Menus are navigated using a 4 direction “cross shaped” disc in the center of the keyboard, a page back key, a tab key and six short cut keys. Confused? I was. Knowing what button to use to get me where was a sorted affair that took a great deal of trial and error. I found myself longing for a touch sensitive screen that would let me tap what I wanted, and skip bothersome tabbing and scrolling.

When it did come time to finally enter some data, there was another hitch. This QWERTY mini key board only has one shift key. On top of all the “adapting” I had to do to get ready to enter something, now I had to “adapt” my typing style as well.

My overall response to the Accompli is lukewarm. I applaud Motorola for not being constrained to traditional phone shapes. But the Accompli’s small screen size and difficult navigation made interacting with it ungratifying. And it’s functionality doesn’t offer significant enough advantages over other available PDA and phone solutions to make dealing with an interface I find clumsy worth it.

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