INQ Chat Review

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After having tested the camera capabilities of the INQ Chat and covering the unboxing there was only one thing left really to test out. How does the INQ Chat perform as a socially connected handset.

INQ Chat

So how does this handset designed specifically for the socially connected perform?

Hardware
The INQ Chat at first glance is an elegant device, with nice smooth curves, shiny polished finish and feels like a premium device, something it is far from being touted as. The device may be made of plastic mostly, but it feels much better in the hands and is very ergonomic. It reminds me of the Nokia E71 – very elegant and similar in form factor and design. The only difference being the E71 is a premium device and made from metal parts.

Keyboard
The keyboard performs pretty well, in comparison to Blackberry devices, the E71 and Palm Pre I can honestly say it’s no better or worse than any of these devices. The red text on the keys are hard to see in dark conditions, but once I got used to it, I didn’t have to look at the keyboard when trying to type. The softkeys and the navigation are nice and big, so it’s easy to navigate through the menu system, which was clearly optimized to be used together and works well. One handed operation is ideal, as one would expect from a handset with the exception of typing which is a lot more comfortable with two hands.

What’s Missing
The INQ Chat may have Twitter, Facebook, MSN, Skype and great tariffs from 3UK but it does come with a few missing features; most notably a 3.5mm port for using one’s favorite earphones and WiFi. Although it does come with earphones which connect to the MiniUSB port, as usual the earphones provided aren’t really that good. They’re not comfortable nor are they as stylish as the actual handset itself. INQ aren’t the only suspects in this case mind, almost all other manufacturers in the market have this problem, with the exception of some.

The Exclusion of WiFi is the most negative point I can find about the handset. I know 3UK would like their users to use their network and as the handset is always connected it makes sense, but in the comfort of home or when near a WiFi hotspot it would be nice to connect via WiFi. It does offer a faster connection and a piece of mind when racking up a huge bill. But as this is very much a budget handset and many others have similar handsets available, some even with 2G only (Nokia) it makes sense.

How Does It Perform
As expected from INQ the UI is pretty easy to get used to and the custom designed touches and features work without any major issues.

Social Integration
Setting up my 3 e-mail accounts, Facebook, Skype, and Twitter took no longer than 5 mins. Without any issues encountered, especially with the e-mail client – it’s pretty intuitive and there is no need to start messing around with settings and ports. The Twitter client on the INQ Chat was a nice refreshing touch, it not only had all the features expected from a Twitter client, but also some nice recommendations of Twitter users (most notably celebs), and the notification of Direct Messages and new Tweets is handy when one isn’t paying attention to what’s happening in the Twitterverse. The same can be said about the Facebook application, although it still doesn’t match up to the mobile site of Facebook, there are a few features missing.

The biggest positive of this handset is the fact all notifications can be found in one unified place. Whether you have received a poke on Facebook, SMS, E-mail or Tweet, it’s up on the screen and in the inbox. There is no need to access each and every individual service to check what’s new.

Browser
The browser surprised me somewhat, it is actually a very good browser, especially for something that is running on a BREW OS. There are many features which are what I’d expect from my desktop browser and it performs relatively well in full HTML web pages. Coming from the Nokia web browser on the N95 I can only say it’s a huge leap in performance and features which I found to be the biggest shock positive from the device itself.

Multimedia
The ability to play your favourite MP3 tracks is always key for the intended market and the INQ Chat performs well enough. It doesn’t light the world on fire with it’s audio capabilities but it doesn’t let itself down either. Features any user would expect from a Music player on any handset are there. With the support of MicroSD cards, it’s should be pretty easy to take your favorite music with you wherever you go.

Battery
I usually got a full days worth of usage. The handset was always connected to the internet with E-mail, Twitter, Facebook keeping me up to date. The performance obviously went down drastically when making calls, something I personally don’t do much of, but I did notice on the odd occasion I did.

Conclusion
For the price range it is aimed at, the INQ Chat is a great device for those that need to be connected wherever they are. The OS is very rich and designed to a degree where the user can feel comfortable after a few hours of use. The features that come with the handset are pretty well what one would expect from a low end device like this. The camera and integration with the services is excellent as is the integration of the Phonebook and Facebook.

The best thing about this device is the fact, it won’t blow a hole in anyone’s wallet. It’s affordable and comes only on 3UK, which in my opinion is the best network for the INQ devices. The only network to promote the new services available and wanted by the public in this day and age. Unlike other operators who tend to cap usage and stop services, 3UK encourage their users to use their services. Clearly they understand that the more users use their network, the more it benefits all involved.

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