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Good value social networking

A QWERTY handset that holds its ground and doesn’t try to be a BlackBerry clone is always welcome.

tech reviews Updated: Feb 16, 2010 20:06 IST
Shayne Rana

It’s quite a relief to see a QWERTY handset that seems to have its own ‘personality’ and doesn’t look like a BlackBerry. This Q5 or ‘ezpad’ as it’s been dubbed, was apparently designed to be real bliss for the avid social networker and here’s how it fared.

Form
The handset’s prime focus is the keypad and not the screen, so there’s that slightly awkward Micromax LCD panel. Although the Q5 is less skewed than its predecessor, the Q3, it’s still the handset’s biggest drawback.

Thankfully, the large QWERTY keypad is fantastic. The buttons are easy to use and well-spaced and take a couple of attempts to get used to. Navigation is a breeze thanks to the track ball.

To ensure that the Q5 is branded a social networking handset, Micromax has incorporated two dedicated shortcut buttons for Facebook and the MSN application. A standard mini USB and a 3.5 mm socket are conveniently located at the base of the handset.

The Q5 is not a good looking handset and it’s heavy, but it’s built for easy use. Micromax has also included a rubberised case for the handset as well as a comfortable handsfree kit in the accessories.

Features
There is no problem with the UI, which is same as the Q3, save for some cosmetic changes. The handset seems to be designed for speed and there’s no lag whatsoever.

Everything is very neatly categorised. The only niggle is the LCD panel, which you will find difficult to stare at for a prolonged period.

Media
The music player is superb. Thanks to Yamaha’s contribution, the audio quality and decibel levels are great. The Q5 comes with a bass enhancement setting and EQ presets that include 3D surround modes as well as Reverb effects.

The sound quality can further be adjusted through the settings menu via an 8-band graphic EQ option. If the bundled handsfree doesn’t do it for you, buy a good set of earphones.

The FM radio, which has a recording option as well, has really good reception. Even in places where reception is just average, the Q5 somehow managed to provide really good reception.

The voice recorder is quite handy for memos but don’t keep the mic too far. A distance of about 2.5 feet will be sufficient for clear voice recordings.

Another very pleasant surprise was the fact that all of my test videos in 3GP and MPEG4 formats played without a hitch, including the higher resolution ones. And if it weren’t for the display, watching even full length movies would be easier.

Connectivity
The Q5 really shines in the connectivity department. With GPRS connectivity you’ll have access to a large array of services — from social networking with the preloaded Facebook application, to Instant Messenger services like MSN, Gtalk, Yahoo! Messenger and even an eBuddy application.

All the applications are well laid out and easy to use. Users will also be able to download and access their POP or IMAP email accounts.

The native browser is the same as you’d find in other Java handsets, so it’s okay for simple browsing. For a better browsing experience Opera Mini is preloaded.

Other modes of connectivity include Stereo Bluetooth support and USB 2.0. The Q5’s camera can also be used as a web cam when connected via USB. There’s also an Ebook reader thrown in.

Camera
The 2 megapixel camera is also strictly basic with all the features you’d expect to find in these budget handsets. Some of them include White balance, Contrast adjustment, Night mode and a few effect settings.

There’s no lag in the display and that’s also a major plus point for the Q5. Although, image quality is not good at all. But pictures might look quite decent on the small 320 x 240 pixel display.

In native resolution, the reds are overbearing and all pictures look more like water coloured paintings rather than digital photos.

Battery life
Yet again, the Q5 seems very impressive in this department. The 1000mAH Li-ion battery dished out over 4 hours and 35 minutes of talk time, which is almost as much as the company promised (5 hours).

With average use of the handset, you’ll be able to go for at least two days without a recharge.

Verdict
The Q5 ezpad is really affordable. At Rs 5,100, it’s a superb choice for a social networking ready handset. Other than the display issue and camera quality, the handset has covered all aspects of connectivity and multimedia well. http://tech2.in.com/go/109372.

What we like
Well-built handset
Plenty of in-built social networking options
Smooth interface
Great audio quality
FM reception was good
Good battery life

What we don’t
Display makes for awkward viewing
Camera quality isn’t good.