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Motorola motoKRZR K1 Cell Phone

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This is easily the coolest cell phone on earth – albeit, with one of the highest price tags on earth. Ignore this… the phone will be cool long after you’ve paid off the plastic you dented to buy it.

Cell phones that do a lot of stuff are pretty common – if you have half an hour to kill in a mall one afternoon, try finding one that doesn’t have a camera and an MP3 player. This having been said, cell phones that do a lot of stuff really well are pretty scarce, and it’s hard not to wonder if all the bad ones are part of a conspiracy to soften you up for a phone that costs a week’s pay.

The Motorola KRZR, the latest generation of RAZR phones, is small, elegant and beautifully engineered. It weighs under four ounces. It’s so intuitive as to hardly need a manual – actually, a worthwhile consideration, as mine doesn’t appear to have come with one. It’s packed with features, and you can subscribe to still more.

To begin with, the KRZR is actually a remarkable telephone. It has landline-quality sound, and more to the point – at least, for those of us who live in the hinterlands – it manages to maintain its remarkable sound quality with the merest whiff of signal strength, when lesser phones would have degenerated into blasts of solar wind and static. I’ve yet to encounter it actually dropping a call.

In shopping around for a new phone, my final short list consisted of the KRZR and the LG Chocolate. The latter phone, while equally cool, couldn’t touch the KRZR for a clear conversation on one bar of signal.

All the usual adjuncts to placing calls are included with the KRZR – it has a phone directory and speed dial, and they’re all easy to find and actually make sense when you try to use them. You don’t have to hold down the upper volume control button, tilt the screen to 32 degrees and rub your right kneecap to access the phone book, a common condition among many contemporary phones.

The KRZR also has a rich selection of the things that will make people breathe heavily when they see what you’ve got clamped to your ear, including:

  • Bluetooth connectivity: If you have a Bluetooth adapter dangling from one of the USB ports of your computer, you can have the KRZR talk to your PC to update its phone book and other internal resources. The KRZR comes with Windows software to manage this for you – it will set up your Bluetooth connection, and thereafter obviate the need to enter the names of your phone contacts using only a numeric keypad. The Bluetooth functionality of the KRZR can also connect to other Bluetooth devices, such as wireless headsets.
  • A music player: You can make the KRZR think it’s a really big iPod. It comes with a USB headset to complete the illusion.
  • Camera: It wouldn’t be a cell phone without a camera – at least, not in the new millennium – and the one in the KRZR is pretty slick as phone cameras go. Featuring 1.3 megapixels of resolution and an 8X zoom, it’s not likely to replace a serious digital SLR, but it’s superb for snapshots of friends, images of your dog doing something clever and proof that there really was a UFO in your back yard last week.
  • Videos: There’s a digital video camera in there too. It only shoots 15 frames per second at moderate resolution, but again, it’s respectable for a cell phone.
  • Speech recognition: You can have the phone respond to spoken commands if you find yourself in a situation wherein playing with its buttons might be distracting. While I can’t help feeling that people who use cell phones while driving need to be dangled over a cliff by their heels for a couple of hours, a hands-free phone is probably a workable compromise.
  • Streaming content: Depending upon your cell phone provider, the KRZR can access all manner of additional content, including music and television – albeit typically with a considerably enhanced monthly bill. I didn’t go there.

You can add up to two gigabytes of memory to the KRZR with a micro-SD memory card, which should unquestionably be the first accessory you purchase if you plan to use the camera or music player features. The 20 megabytes of internal memory in the phone gets full pretty quickly.

Every port and button of the KRZR seems to have been well thought-out. It uses a USB port to charge its battery, which means it can be charged by a variety of USB power sources, or by connecting it to a computer. Its screen is huge, and it lacks the flat appearance and ghost-trail images of earlier color display panels. Its buttons, while membrane switches, have a positive feel and are large enough to be operated by real human fingers. Its battery seems to run forever, with about 200 minutes of talk time and at least 200 hours on standby.

Oh yes… and it supports MP3 ringtones, although in the interest of the KRZR remaining really cool, you might want to ignore this feature.