HTC Star Trek Nears U.S. Release as the Qtek 8500

by Reads (17,220)

We had our first hands-on experience with the HTC Star Trek, to be sold as the Qtek 8500 Smartphone, today at Microsoft’s TechEd event.

The best thing the Qtek 8500 has going for it is its price: it will debut in GSM unlocked form for $370 through Mobile Planet. It’s expected to start shipping on June 26.

Qtek 8500
Qtek 8500 unfolded (view large image)

Of course the huge advantage GSM phones have over their CDMA competition is you don’t need official carrier support for them to work. Subscribers to T-Mobile or Cingular can easily buy these devices through retailers like Mobile Planet or other gray-market means. Really the only thing you give up is support since a call to your carrier will net nothing but confusion on the other end of the phone.

Qtek 8500
Qtek 8500 keypad (view large image)

But is the Qtek 8500, aka HTC Star Trek, anything to get excited about? It has a fun flip form factor, and comparisons to the Motorola RAZR are almost inevitable due to the sleek design, but the 8500 is actually quite long when unfolded, something that is a bit of a turn off. The rest of the spec sheet is an up and down mix of neat and head slapping as we try to understand what HTC was thinking.

Qtek 8500
Closed – the secondary display wouldn’t turn on due to anti-theft device preventing complete closure (view large image)

They do something nice by providing an EDGE radio and a secondary display that’s full of useful information. But then they go and use old versions of the USB and Bluetooth protocols. They also made mind boggling mistakes like placing the microSD card under the SIM card, making it a total pain to access. They also use the same port, which is proprietary, for charging and audio output. That’s right, no 2.5 mm or 3.5 mm audio out.

Qtek 8500
(view large image)

The Qtek 8500 is a nice concept design, but not ready for prime time. It’s just so full of problems that unless you desperately want a clamshell form factor with no QWERTY input you’re better off spending a touch more for the Motorola Q. If you’re dying to take a crack at it though, they should be shipping soon for $370 through this link [link removed].

UPDATE – That pricing was special only to Tech Ed attendees. The pricing for everyone else is $590, making it a definite pass. Ordering info here.

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