Motorola's Krzr Cell Phone Arrives

The Krzr
When you have a good thing, you generally stick to it. So it's no surprise that Motorola's Krzr K1m doesn't stray from the things that have made its close cousin, the Razr, such a popular phone: attractive design and sufficient features. The Krzr retains most of the Razr's design elements--including the clamshell design, slim profile, bright screen, and flat keypad--and many of the Razr V3m's hardware specifications.

I tested the Krzr K1m from Verizon Wireless. In Verizon's package, the handset costs $250 with a two-year, new-subscriber service contract. (Alltel sells the phone at the same price, and Sprint will begin shipping it in November at a yet-to-be-determined price.) The K1m is taller, narrower, and thicker than the Razr. It measures 4.05 inches high, 1.73 inches wide, and 0.67 inch thick, whereas the Razr is 3.9 inches high, 2.1 inches wide, and 0.6 inch thick. Though I was skeptical about the Krzr's narrow form, I found the phone surprisingly comfortable to hold.

Like the Razr, the K1 has a slick external casing--glossy, gray hardened glass on the front; and matte slate-gray magnesium finish on the back, with polished chrome trim. The front also houses a small external LCD and touch-sensitive audio controls that allow you to pause and forward music. I sometimes inadvertently pushed these controls, and there's no way to lock them; still, they work better than the touch-based controls on LG's Chocolate (also from Verizon Wireless).

For the most part, the Krzr's hardware features match those available on the Razr V3m. Both handsets support EvDO networks, can capture 1.3-megapixel snapshots, store files on an optional microSD memory card (whose slot is inconveniently located under the back cover and below the battery), and offer Bluetooth support for wireless headsets. Because the K1m is narrower than the Razr, its LCD is slightly smaller, too, with a diagonal of 1.9 inches, but it's certainly bright enough.

Available Services

Users will notice additional differences in the voice and data services from the individual carriers. For example, the K1m Verizon Wireless phone that I tested came with Verizon's VCast Music service. Like all Verizon VCast phones, the only music it can play consists of files imported from a CD using Windows Media Player 10 or purchased from the over-the-air VCast service. iPod and iTunes music files are not compatible with Verizon phones.

To transfer music from a PC, you must have Windows XP and WMA 10 (Mac OS X won't work). You can buy music through VCast using your PC, and you can transfer songs to the phone via an extra-cost USB cable. If you drag and drop music onto the memory card instead of syncing it through the USB cable, the songs won't play back on the phone. Like many other music phones I've reviewed, the Krzr plays music sluggishly. I noticed about a 1-second lag when navigating the playlist, and I was generally unimpressed by the tinny, bassless sound from the speaker. Listening to music through the extra-cost earphones yielded a similarly mediocre audio experience. Instead of having a standard headset jack, the Krzr comes with an adapter that plugs into the USB connector.

On the bright side, the phone provided adequate volume during my calls. Reception was generally good in tests conducted around San Francisco, and the call quality at both ends was clear enough. The voice command feature (which you access through a button on the side panel) worked well, too. There are seven command options--for example, go to camera--that you can dictate; subsequently the phone will recognize your command and activate that function. Verizon's user interface and menu system includes a tracking tool that lets you check the number of voice minutes you've used or the amount of data you've sent or received. You can access this information from the Recent Calls tab under View Timers.

The embedded camera's options include four resolutions (160 by 120, 320 by 240, 640 by 480, and 1280 by 1024), three color effects (antique, black-and-white, and negative), and two zoom levels (2X and 4X). Alas, the camera produced drab, grainy photos and video (the latter captured at 176 by 144 resolution); for video recording length, you can choose the Short setting (10 seconds) or the Long setting (the maximum duration that an add-in memory card can store).

In the end the Krzr's strongest feature is its handsome good looks. Its other features are nice to have but don't justify its current high price. Personally, I'd wait until the price drops or a carrier offers a sweet promotion.

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