Qtek 9100 review: Cheaper than expected

M. Lutonský, J. Kuruc, 07 December 2005. Read the original review at MobilMania.cz
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We have tested the Qtek 9100 communicator which comes from the HTC Wizard platform. O2 XDA mini S, T-Mobile MDA Vario and i-mate K-JAM are devices from the same platform, this is why this review applies to them too. The Qtek 9100 offers a comfortable sliding keyboard, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as well as the Windows Mobile Ver 5.0 OS - all this at a very attractive price.

Key features

  • small size
  • excellent hardware keypad
  • very good display
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • improved office applications
  • good sound through the earphones
  • reasonable price

Main disadvantages

  • slower processor
  • new type of memory card (miniSD)
  • difficult single-hand control
  • needs an adapter for common 3.5 mm earphones

Qtek 9100 is one of the products from the HTC Wizard platform. HTC (High Tech Computing) is a Taiwanese manufacturer, while Wizard is the code name of the platform. This labeling makes sense as the mentioned Taiwanese company usually provides its products to mobile operators and other companies, which label them consequently. In other words, one and the same product appears on the market under different company logos and the situation seems to start to spin out of control. Here is the list of some of the brands, under which the HTC products are sold: Qtek, i-mate, O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Dopod, Krome…

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Looks like a Magician • but it is a Wizard • rear side

The Qtek label comes closest to the origin for it is a registered label of the Taiwanese manufacturer. If you run into names like MDA Vario, I-mate K-Jam or O2 XDA Mini, you can be sure that they all are nearly identical to Qtek. The differences among them usually rest in the additional software equipment and the contingent minor modifications of the firmware. Just to show you that it is not all so simple, I will only mention the fact that HTC offers its Wizard to its partners in three hardware versions.

Qtek 9100 is a communicator, which basically means a pocket computer with added call application. It is based on the latest version of the Windows Mobile 5.0 OS and features a sliding QWERTY keyboard.

Qtek 9100 is a device meant to be primarily used for work, just like all communicators we already know. Despite the fact that Windows Mobile is able to back various types of excellent games and plenty of multimedia functions and to play both MP3 files and videos, these extras will definitely be the last to be taken in mind by the users, when they consider buying the device. A far more important feature will probably be the Wi-Fi support, the good synchronization options or applications for work with documents and office tools.

Do not look abeam

When closed, Qtek will first remind you of HTC Magician (MDA Compact, Qtek S100, i-mate JAM, …). It has nearly the same dimensions - 109 × 58 mm. Almost the entire front area is occupied by a big display and a few buttons. What surprises is the thickness of the device. It has been extended to 24 mm (compared to Magician, which is only 18 mm), due mainly to the keypad, which slides out. It is also slightly heavier - 160 g, but such a weight is quite usual for a communicator. Qtek 9100 fits well in the hand as all its edges are perfectly rounded.

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Size comparison: in hand • with Nokia N70 • with MDA Compact • on MDA Compact

To my opinion, the design is satisfactory. It is also less experimental than the one of the Magician model. For example, I find the grid on the rear side and the ellipses around the camera lens a bit overcombined. Yet, the front side of the phone looks very attractive, even if conservative. HTC has made the covers of plastics, which is a step backwards in comparison to MDA Compact, whose construction was metal. Nevertheless, the construction of the new communicator is solid enough.

Qtek 9100
Well, it is not exactly beautiful...

Keypad: useful and brilliant

Let us now take a closer look at the most innovative part of the device: the sliding keypad. The easiest way to get to the keypad is to turn the communicator counter-clockwise and thumb-push the display upwards. This keypad constitutes 1/3 of the thickness of the device. At the same time the picture on the display will turn too. When opened Qtek resembles the Sidekick device, which is popular mainly in the USA.

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Keypad is very good

There is no spring to help you open the keypad. The display is mounted in two grooves and needs to be pushed up manually. At doing so, you will here a dry friction sound. At the end of the grooves the display is caught by interlocks, whose construction is not very firm. In fact, I do not dare estimate how the keypad sliding mechanism is going to work after a certain period of frequent usage. On all accounts, everything that moves bears potential risks...

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Sliding mechanism details

The keypad consists of four lines of silver oval keys. The spacer located in the middle of the bottom line occupies an area of two standard keys. In the upper part you will find two additional context keys, which start and control the functions currently displayed in the state bar. People with bigger fingers may find work with these keys a little bit inconvenient as the latter are situated much too close to the display.

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Keys are solid and big enough

Obviously, a keypad with 41 keys, which lacks a separate number line, is not very comfortable for all kinds of operations. Beside the standard shift function for capital letters, you can also use the blue dot function key. By pressing the latter you start to write either characters put on a second place, or numbers. The flag key opens the Start menu; the OK button confirms the current selection. Here you will also find a standard Enter key, a delete key and cursor keys.

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