Some devices are a joy to use. Consider the average toaster; no fuss, no complication, just slip bread in, pull toast out a minute later. No unnecessary hinges or latches or doors on a toaster, no mysterious buttons, just pure, unadulterated simplicity right there on your kitchen counter. Or your bathroom counter, depending on your long-term outlook on things.
The refrigerator is another beautifully efficient appliance. What could be more elegant than a giant cold box with food inside? Usually only the best food, too, like cheese, meat, and other cheese; you’re not likely to encounter any rice cakes or wheat squares or oatmeal when you poke around in there, and thanks once again for tiny blessings. Simply open the door, withdraw frigid delectables. Wonderful.
If you had to perform a convoluted ritual of head bobbing, pygmy tossing, and interpretive dance set to Rocky Mountain High every time you wanted a bowl of Rainforest Crunch, who’d bother? If the fridge door wouldn’t open unless I recited The Rime of the Ancient Mariner while dressed like Little Orphan Annie and holding over my head a duck hatched on St. Swithun’s Day, it would certainly make me consider heavily investing in nonperishables, I tell you.
Inefficiency bugs me. Taking three steps when one will do just fine makes me want to choke a kitten, especially if it’s because some other lazy idiot didn’t feel like doing his job, either. The unnecessary sorting and filing of utterly useless forms at Large Specialty Retail Chain thrilled me about as much as standing in line at the DMV, so I routinely tossed them, and instructed the Minions to do the same. I discovered early on that maintaining even the slimmest soupçon of sanity depended on identifying anything which was truly unimportant and promptly ignoring it, all the while feigning a level of diligence that would shame Patek Phillippe. It worked well.
Which brings me to the Motorola Q9h. If painfully cumbersome inefficiency were money, this thing would be gleefully firing people from its own reality show.
The Q hated me. Both it and its no-nonsense, shut-up-and-swim operating system, Windows Mobile 6, tried to drive me out of my mind with unnecessary button presses and needlessly complicated program management, so I took that sucker for a ride from which it hasn’t returned. Replaced its recalcitrant ass with a BlackBerry Curve, and things have been much more agreeable since.
On its own as a device, the Q was…large. Its keys were large, its screen was large, and the extended battery possessed the bicuspid-threatening thickness of a four-square Chunky bar. Talking on it was like holding a trade paperback to the side of my head, and the last thing I need assistance with is looking like a goober. (No-no, N-Gage. Not again. You go sit in your corner and think about what you’ve done!)
The Q’s sound quality was fine, but if I have to choose between slightly compromised audio quality and Windows Mobile, I’ll pick the former any day. Although the Q has a dedicated messaging key, WM defaults to the last folder viewed; this means that if you receive a text message or an email, it’s necessary to manually navigate to the inbox in order to read the message, a process which can require up to seven button presses if you left the messaging application on a folder other than the inbox. Beautiful, eh? Yes. Beautiful like cholera.
It’s also necessary to use the task manager application just to close other applications; if you simply navigate back to the home screen using the end key or the dedicated home key, whatever you were doing previously remains open in the background, which shortens battery life and slows system speed. There’s no way to close an application from within the application–again, only the task manager can be used for this, and unless you map it to the program bar, you’ll have to go digging through four levels of menus just to find the stupid thing.
The BlackBerry OS is far from perfect, but it performs well enough that my brain has stopped swelling from the inelegant frustration of the Q/Windows Mobile experience. The Curve is small enough to text on with one hand, yet not so small that two hands can’t be used. The call quality and reception are solid, and it’s got a good camera and impressive media capabilities. The Q’s keyboard requires two hands for texting and almost anything else, as it’s wider than my thumb is long.
Although the Q supports MicroSD cards of up to 32Gb, it’s not possible to create a music playlist on the device itself, which is like having to eat all the cake in the world every time you want a Twinkie. Why bother to include a media player only to cripple it with such mystifying semi-usefulness?
Research in Motion, the maker of the Blackberry, is constantly upgrading and redesigning their equipment so that their lineup of handsets is as versatile as the phones themselves. Motorola seems content to cede the smartphone market to RIM while focusing on imitating its own past success with the Razr 2 and the Rizr Z9. The death of innovation; a groundbreaking strategy.
If the staid, stodgy Q is even a moderately accurate barometer of Motorola’s forecast, they’d better start handing out raincoats.
And perhaps parachutes.