Product: Motorola music phone (Motorola MOTOROKR Z6)

25 Jul 2007

For a company of its scale and history of innovation, it seems unthinkable that Motorola has twice been waylaid by the impressive hype machine Apple can wield.

The first time around was when the internet buzzed with the rumour that Motorola and Apple were to bring out a music phone. The resulting E1 ROKR came with iTunes but could only store 100 songs at a time, and no one was surprised when Apple eventually stopped supporting it. Many already knew that Apple had other intentions.

The second waylaying has just happened with the iPhone and Apple’s hype machine is in full swing. Even though the iPhone has yet to debut on this side of the Atlantic, it is clear that through the example of Nokia’s N95, the shape of the mobile phone is about to change irrevocably.

With four-inch screens, high-res cameras, music and video players, GPS systems and Wi-Fi, the mobile phone has evolved.

As a result you can’t help but feel that the Motorola MOTOROKR Z6, even with its sleek, compact design and 2GB of storage (enough for 2,000 songs), is one year too late.

The device slides open to reveal the design finish standard on most RAZR devices and it contains a crisper version of the standard Motorola operating system (which now comes with Linux).

The core function of the Z6, however, is it is a music phone and on this front alone it performs admirably. The music platform of choice is Windows Media Player 11 and I had a quick go at uploading around 60 songs onto the device.

The drawback on its predecessor, the E1 ROKR, was a slow transfer of music but with the Z6 I was able to transfer music files speedily and within half an hour I’d transferred virtually all the music on my PC onto the device.

As a music player, the audio quality is also perfect and the device can be bought with an S9 Bluetooth headset from Motorola so no more fiddling with tangled wires. A handy music button on the front of the device brings you right to your music collection.

It has been reported that Motorola shipments have fallen by a third in the US as the company has failed to introduce a device to compete with the Apple iPhone and BlackBerry devices from Research In Motion.

As a music phone the MOTOROKR Z6 definitely performs; in fact it exceeds expectations. But Motorola would be wise to start delivering compelling media devices that will enable it to compete in a very different market.

The device is available from O2 for €79 bill pay and from August from Meteor for €49. The S9 wireless headset accessory will retail from €99.

Pros: Superb music transfer and audio

Cons: A year too late