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Moto's Media Monster

10:40 AM -- Billed as a "Media Monster" by CEO Ed Zander, Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)'s new Z8 slider phone was first unveiled at the 3GSM tradeshow back in February. When it launched commercially in the U.K. this summer we took it for a test drive.

There are two main reasons to like the Z8: The "kick-slider" action and the neon-green trim.

There's also some grunt under the hood. With 3.6-Mbit/s 3G connectivity, downloads and mobile TV streaming are painfree. Mercifully, Moto used high-spec memory and processors to ensure the device doesn’t hang or crash -- a refreshing change from the underpowered 3G devices Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) has inflicted on the world.

A full-length version of The Bourne Identity, stored on a removable memory card, ships with the phone. A nice touch and, I guess, the source of the "Media Monster" pitch.

Web browsing is a struggle. It comes with a version of the Opera Software ASA mobile browser pre-installed, so you can view "real" Web pages reformatted for a small screen. I didn't like it much and couldn't figure how to get a basic WAP browser running or install the superior Opera Mini.

For some reason, I couldn't install any Java apps, not even Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) maps. Even though the Z8 is based on the Symbian Ltd. OS, none of my usual apps worked, and so I gave up on it. All About Symbian covers this in depth here .

This really highlights Motorola's challenge in high-end phones: software.

Until Moto can settle on a software platform and get a developer ecosystem cranking out applications, it'll struggle to attract and retain customers in the high-end segment.

Final verdict: Love the neon, love the high-speed 3G, but just not functional enough for everyday use.

— Gabriel Brown, Chief Analyst, Unstrung Insider

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