Qtek 8500 Smartphone

Advertisement

INTRODUCTION

    The Qtek 8500 is another
branding of the first flip phone made by HTC
codenamed the HTC StrTrk or Star Trek or Star100
depending on who you ask. You’ll find the same phone
available as the i-mate Smartflip and Dopod S300 at
this time, but it’s sure to be re-branded when
picked up by other mobile carriers.

    When I bought the Qtek 8500
from

Smart Mobile Gadgets
, I was very excited about
this breakthrough form-factor… not to mention
finally getting to play with the Smartphone edition
of Windows Mobile 5. It turns out the Smartphone
flavor of Windows Mobile 5 has a lot of differences
from the Pocket PC Phone version. As for the Qtek
8500 and it’s HTC Star Trek variants, read on for
all the details on this beautiful little Smartphone.

I asked Patrick Stewart what he thought about HTC
code-naming this phone the "Star Trek" but he wasn’t
in the mood to answer ‘stupid questions.’

WHAT’S HOT

    The Qtek 8500’s most impressive features
are it’s sleek style and thin body. In terms of it’s
specifications, it’s got Bluetooth 1.2, 195Mhz TI
850 OMAP
CPU, USB 1.1, 64Mb ROM, 64Mb RAM, Windows Mobile 5 (AKU
2.3), 2.2" 240x320px 64K color screen, 1.2"
128x128px color external screen, Quadband GSM/EDGE and a 1.3MP camera.  

(all images link to high resolution)


What’s hot about the HTC Star Trek
is that it’s not just for geeks…
This phone’s got sex appeal.

Device (no cover)
Size (inches)
Weight (grams |
ounces)
Qtek 8500
3.88" x 2.02"
x 0.62"
99  | 3.49
4.18" x 2.31"
x 0.68"
150 | 5.30
4.40" x 2.30" x 0.90"
180 | 6.40
Motorola Q

4.56" x 2.48" x 0.45"

115 | 4.05

4.60" x 2.79" x 0.82"

165 | 5.82

4.25" x 2.28" x 0.93"

160 | 5.64
4.92" x 2.81" x
0.71"
210 | 7.40
4.18" x 2.31" x 0.68"


150 | 5.30



The HTC Star Trek is still a bit
larger than the STNG (Star Trek Next Generation)
Communicator… which could be a good code-name for
a future HTC phone.

WHAT’S IN
THE BOX

    The Qtek 8500 comes with a USB sync cable, AC
adapter, stereo headphones with talk button/mic/volume
control, software CD and
manual.

THE DEVICE

   


    The Qtek 8500’s design is very stylish, slim, and
sexy. Since HTC has crammed a 240×320 pixel screen
into a 2.2 inch area, the crispness and color of the
display is excellent… except outdoors. If you’re
outside during the day, this screen gets totally
washed out. The shiny plastic covering also helps
cause a lot of glare while outdoors.


    The Qtek 8500’s form-factor can’t be beat when
closed. The ends of the external cover (opposite the
hinge) are black rubber to protect against scratches
while the rest of the body is black plastic with
tiny ridges. And take a look at that external screen!
It’s actually a square color screen, but at certain
angles the seams blend into the mirrored plastic
beautifully.


On the right side you see the proprietary
power/sync/audio connector port. On the upper part
of the phone is the camera button. Pressing it once
starts the camera application. Pressing it again
takes a picture.


On the upper part of the left side of the phone
you’ll see two volume control buttons and a third
button which activates the voice tags recognition
application.  Also notice how thin the phone is
when opened.


Inside the hinge is a little loop for a lanyard.


The keypad is very similar to that of the Motorola
RAZR. It’s smooth flat brushed metal with
indentations separating the buttons.


The Qtek 8500 works great with Bluetooth headsets,
however the bluetooth reception is more on par with
normal HTC phones. In other words it’s not nearly as
good as the
HTC Prophet (imate JAMin).


The


imate K-JAM
,
JAMin, and Qtek 8500 side by
side.


In our stack-up, you can see the Qtek 8500 on top is
the smallest. The
imate JAMin is in the middle
followed by the thick
imate KJAM on the bottom.


The included stereo headphones plug into the
proprietary port on the side of the phone. Don’t
expect to use you’re own headphones. So far there
are no adapters for this port either.


    If you like to play your music in your car, you’ll
need an A2DP Stereo Bluetooth Adapter. I use the
i.Tech Clip S35 which is basically an A2DP and
Handsfree Bluetooth profile receiver with a 3.5mm
audio jack. This way all you have to do is plug in a
normal car stereo cassette adapter or FM Transmitter
and you’re good to go.


The MicroSD card slot is located behind the battery
cover and underneath the SIM card slot. Don’t plan
on swapping this out too often. I keep a 1Gb MicroSD
card in there.

THE EXTERNAL SCREEN
    One of the most interesting features of the Qtek 8500 that
set it apart from other Windows Mobile 5 Smartphones
is the useful external screen.  


Missed call notifications, Calendar Appointment
notifications, and new mail notifications will
appear here. And if you press the camera button, you
can use the external screen as a viewfinder as well.


    Incoming calls will appear with the Caller ID photo
as synchronized from Outlook. You also see two icons
in the lower part of the screen which associate with
the left and right "skip track" hardware buttons
just below. The left one mutes the ringer, while the
right one ignores the call.


    When nothing’s going on, the external screen shows
general status icons along with your choice of clock
style or background art.  The "E" represents
EDGE registration. There’s a Bluetooth icon meaning
Bluetooth is on. Then there’s the battery level icon
and the GSM reception level icon at the end. 
The clock style shown here is the "Digital Clock 1"
style.


Analog Clock 3


Analog Clock 2


Analog Clock 1


Digital Clock 2


Wallpaper image


    The last extremely cool function of the external
screen is it’s integration with Windows Media
Player. While Windows Media Player is active the
external screen shows track information and the
hardware buttons on the cover will control the
music.  After the screen goes to sleep mode,
you have to press a button once to wake it up and
then again to perform its function. So if you’re
listening to music and want to skip a track, you
often have to press the skip button twice in order




INTEGRATED SOFTWARE

   The Qtek 8500 features Windows
Mobile 5.0 with AKU 2.3 which includes the Messaging
and Security Pack. There are very few 3rd party
enhancements added to the Windows Mobile 5
Smartphone Edition and since this is my first
Windows Mobile Smartphone we’ll take a quick look at
the normal user interface and go over any
enhancements we might find.


    The default home screen provides plenty of useful
information that you would need at a glance. The
second row shows the most recently used application
icons for easy access. The first row (the title bar)
show status icons such as voicemail, bluetooth,
EDGE, headset connection, battery level, and
reception level. Other icons such as new mail and
whatnot will also appear here. They seem a little
hap-hazardly laid out.

    Pressing the "Start" softkey button on the home
screen brings you to the programs listing. You have
to press "More" to see the rest of them. You might
have to go through 3 screens before you find the one
you want. You can add applications to Speed dial or
create Voice Tags for them from here as well.

    The Comm Manager mainly handles
Phone, WiFi, and Bluetooth power settings. It also has a button that
toggles the audio settings to vibrate mode. Then
there’s an ActiveSync button that simply launches
ActiveSync. Button number 3 is for turning on/off
the Exchange push feature. My test emails were
announced within 8 seconds of sending them from my
desktop. Button 4 will disconnect
the GPRS/EDGE connection. That’s useful if your
provider makes the connection time-out after a
while.

The Bluetooth Control panel is
pretty basic. Accessing the device options is still
another screen away.

    This is where you can pair with other Bluetooth
devices. When a device that supports A2DP is added
and selected the "Set as Wireless Stereo" option
becomes available. If you shut off your device or go
out of range, in order to reconnect to Wireless
Stereo, you have to navigate back to this screen and
activate it again. There is no interface for
determining whether an A2DP device is connected or
not.

The Contacts program is similar to
the Pocket PC version and very well designed. You
can also easily ad Voice Tags and Speed Dial from
the Menu button.

    The phone dialer screen that shows up when you press
the talk button (or start typing in numbers on the
home screen) is nothing like that of Pocket PC
Phones. This screen immediately shows the list of
recent calls that you can easily select from as well.

    When using the number pad to type
out a persons name or dial a number, the possible letter combinations
are searched and resulting names are displayed
below. Once the name you want is selected, press the
Talk button the phone will dial away.

   
When you’re in a call, the screen shows the time
connected along with the caller’s photo, name and
number. The menu button gives you access to
pertinent commands like turning on speakerphone,
hands-free, hold, etc.

Holding down the home key brings
up the quick list menu with some useful options.

The Messaging application also
uses Contact photos for emails and text messages. In
the message listings though, you can’t select
multiple messages for deletion like you can with a
Pocket PC.

    Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone offers
suggestions for words you’re typing in T9 mode, but
it doesn’t offer match suggestions when entering a
recipients name like the Pocket PC Phone version
does. Instead, you have to type the name and then
choose Menu>Check Names. I don’t like having to
do that at all.

Pocket MSN is pretty much the same as the Pocket PC
counterpart. This is where you have to go to access
MSN Messenger.

MSN Messenger works great, but I hope you’re good at
typing with a numeric keypad.

The MMS integration on Windows
Mobile 5 Smartphone Edition is much better than on
the Pocket PC Phone Edition.

Media Player syncs with Windows
Media Center just like the Pocket PC Phone edition
version of Windows Mobile 5. But unlike the Pocket
PC version, you can actually navigate the Library
view using the hardware buttons!

Watching recorded TV and videos on
a screen area the size of my thumb isn’t really that
much fun, but it works!

You can use the Pictures & Videos application to
take your portfolio or family photos with you where
ever you go.

Internet Explorer works quite well. The One Column
view is great for making scrolling one dimensional.

    The Calendar application is basically the same as
the Pocket PC version. The Agenda view seems to be
much more useful on the Smartphone though since the
Today screen only displays the next upcoming
appointment. The Agenda view shows all of today’s
appointments and you can switch to other days
quickly using the left and right directional
buttons.

The File Manager is easy to navigate, but selecting
multiple files is impossible.

A Midlet Manager is included for running Java Apps.

One thing I miss is that the Windows Mobile 5
Smartphone edition does not synchronize with the
Notes in Outlook 2003. Instead it’s only got this
very limited Voice Notes application where you can
record voice memos.

In the Accessories folder you have some useful
applications. The Clear Storage program will return
your device to factory settings. The SIM manage lets
you manage the contact entries on your SIM card.

Of course you get the standard Windows Mobile games.

ActiveSync lets you configure an Exchange Server to
sync with. You can also sync via Bluetooth from
here. If I wasn’t already connected to ActiveSync,
the above menu options would not be grayed out.

There’s actually a "Task Manager" designed by HTC in
the programs listing, which is quite nice. You can
use this to close certain programs instead of
letting Windows Mobile manage your memory by itself.

You can also access system info from the Task
Manager. Notice how there’s only about 17Mb of
Storage memory available to the user. Don’t expect
to install many 3rd party applications.

I like the camera application much better than the
version found in HTC’s Pocket PC Phones. Mainly
because the soft key menus are available and usable.

However, the menu structure in the Camera
application can get awfully complicated pretty
quickly.


    Sandra wasn’t impressed with the
photo quality of this camera. Click the above image
for the full resolution 1.3Mp sample. The automatic
White Balance was way off, but luckily I was able to
change it myself pretty easily.. so that the skin
tones were at least partially human-like.



HELP SUPPORT

   

The Qtek brand is notoriously lacking in support.
There is a

new website
in English these days and
there’s a form you can use to request

warranty support
, but that’s about it. However,
Smart
Mobile Gadgets
has pledged to obtain ROM updates
for it’s customers.

BUGS AND WISHES

   
The
biggest annoyance for me with the Qtek 8500 is the
proprietary connector that handles charging, audio
out, and synchronizing. I’m forced to use A2DP over
Bluetooth in order to listen to music in the car and
that means another battery to charge on occasion. 
It also means I have to use the extremely
non-user-friendly and primitive interface for
Wireless Stereo in Windows Mobile. I have to go
through about 4 screens and 8 button presses to
activate Wireless Stereo on a bluetooth device…
and then there’s no way of knowing whether the
connection was successfully established or not. To make matters worse, I have to do this every time
I want to send music to an A2DP device. If I go out
of range and then come back within range, I have to
set the device as Wireless Stereo AGAIN!  The
way it should work is there should be a menu in
Windows Media Player that lists the paired A2DP
devices within range and you select the one you want
to output on. "Internal Speakers" should be listed
there as well so you can easily switch and also
easily see which device audio is supposed to go out
on. Or maybe the A2DP should also be able to
re-connect when it’s within range automatically
(just like Handsfree Headsets), and then there
should be some sort of visual identification
confirming with the user that this has happened.

    
The second annoyance is the fact that the MicroSD
memory card slot is located under the battery cover,
underneath the SIM card slot. It’s annoying enough
that you have to buy a MicroSD card instead of using
your regular SD cards or MiniSD cards. Anyway, you
will not be changing this out often if at all, so
buy the biggest one you can find. 

    
The GSM 1900Mhz band reception seems to be a bit
lacking as well. Side by side with my
imate JAMin (HTC
Prophet)
, both with T-Mobile USA SIM cards, the
JAMin consistently
tends to retain better reception. Hence
the Qtek 8500 is often searching for a network
signal much more often in low-signal areas
(especially indoors) and this can deplete the
battery much faster than expected not to mention
cause you to miss some calls. Sometimes it
completely loses signal and even stops searching for
it when you try to connect to EDGE on such a low
signal. I hope this type of thing can be fixed with
a ROM upgrade. A related problem is the inability to
send text messages on occasion. If you close the
phone after you thought you sent it, there’s no way
of knowing that sending has failed unless you go
look at the text messaging account folders and
notice that you have unsent draft messages there.

    
There are some other annoyances with the software.
As mentioned before, the T9 text input method offers
suggestions for words that you’re typing, but when
the focus is in a recipient field in the Messaging
application, no contact matching suggestions are
made. Instead you have to choose "Check Names" from
the menu in order to make sure the message is
addressed properly. There’s also no way to select
multiple messages for deletion in the Messaging app
(like there is on the Pocket PC version.)

    
I also really hate how incoming text messages do not
display the actual message on the screen right away.
All it does is play a sound and then you have to go
to the text messages folder and open the message in
order to read it. I don’t like that at all. With a
Pocket PC Phone, all I have to do is glance at the
screen to read the message… I can do that while
driving if it’s mounted on my dashboard. Not so with
the Smartphone.

PURCHASING

   

The Qtek 8500
can currently be found at a number of online
retailers including

Smart Mobile Gadgets
for about $479.
Mad Monkey Boy’s Gadgets
has it for $499.
Expansys
has it for $545.


PROS



  • Very thin, small and lightweight


  • Beautiful design


  • Flip phone with lovely external screen


  • Quadband 850/900/1800/1900mhz GSM and EDGE

  • Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone AKU 2.3

  • Push Exchange 2003 email
    & PIM

  • Bluetooth has functional A2DP, AVRCP
    profiles



  • Very thin, small and lightweight


  • Beautiful design


  • Flip phone with lovely external screen


  • Quadband 850/900/1800/1900mhz GSM and EDGE

  • Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone AKU 2.3

  • Push Exchange 2003 email
    & PIM

  • Bluetooth has functional A2DP, AVRCP
    profiles


  • Very thin, small and lightweight


  • Beautiful design


  • Flip phone with lovely external screen


  • Quadband 850/900/1800/1900mhz GSM and EDGE

  • Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone AKU 2.3

  • Push Exchange 2003 email
    & PIM

  • Bluetooth has functional A2DP, AVRCP
    profiles

CONS

  • MicroSD
    card slot is behind the battery cover underneath the
    SIM card
  • A2DP
    implementation is very difficult to manage
  • Possible
    reception issues on the 1900Mhz GSM band
  • Bluetooth
    radio not as good as the HTC Prophet
Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall

What
do these ratings mean
?


OVERALL IMPRESSION

    The
main point in this phone’s design is it’s good
looks and thin body
.
It doesn’t have WiFi. It doesn’t have a great
bluetooth radio or decent camera like the Prophet. What it
does have is a great eye-catching design, sleek
keypad, useful external screen, and a very thin
lightweight form factor
. I sincerely like it
a lot!

    In terms of how a
Windows Mobile 5 Smartphone compares to a Windows
Mobile 5 Pocket PC Phone, there are a number of
differences. In many ways one is better than the
other, but both could learn a lot from each other.
For example, the Smartphone OS has great one-handed
hardware button usability for all of it’s
applications. Pocket PC Phones have improved in this
aspect, but still aren’t quite there. The Smartphone
OS also has much better profiles integration on the
Today screen. The ability to automatically change
profiles based on your calendar schedule is another
nice feature missing from the Pocket PC Phone. On
the other hand, if you’re a big data-inputter with
your mobile devices, the Smartphone OS is very
lacking in this respect. The Notes application
doesn’t sync with Outlook, the Messaging app doesn’t
suggest contact names as you type, and you can’t
multi-select objects. In terms of the phone
application, the Smartphone OS certainly trumps the
Pocket PC Phone version. The Smartphone phone dialer
suggests contact names as you begin typing without
any need for a clumsy 3rd party application.

     If you’re
jealous of all those superficial people out there
with those shiny thin good looking Motorola RAZR
phones, but still wish you had something with more
personality like the

HTC Prophet
… then the HTC Star Trek (Qtek 8500)
could be a good balance between beauty and brains.
Hopefully HTC’s next generation Star Trek Smartphone
will have more impressive specifications though.

*Appearance by Patrick Stewart
courtesy of Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Times
Square, New York City. Photograph by Ray Doan.

Advertisement

What's your reaction?
Love It
0%
Like It
0%
Want It
0%
Had It
0%
Hated It
0%
About The Author
Adam Z. Lein
Adam has had interests in combining technology with art since his first use of a Koala pad on an Apple computer. He currently has a day job as a graphic designer, photographer, systems administrator and web developer at a small design firm in Westchester, NY. His love of technology extends to software development companies who have often implemented his ideas for usability and feature enhancements. Mobile computing has become a necessity for Adam since his first Uniden UniPro PC100 in 1998. He has been reviewing and writing about smartphones for Pocketnow.com since they first appeared on the market in 2002.Read more about Adam Lein!