Yesterday I took delivery of a brand new tri-mode Motorola Timeport 8767 phone on the Verizon Wireless system. Compared to my nearly year old Motorola StarTAC 7868W, the 8767 is dynamic, fun and light years ahead of the 7868W in design, user friendliness and functionality. I have been a strong advocate of the 7868W but after having the 8767 for less than 24 hours, I am sold on the new phone’s overall friendliness and greater aesthetic. I paid $250 for the phone with a one year Verizon Wireless contract. Let me break down the reasons for you now as to why the 8767 is one great phone:

Overall Feel
The 8767 is smooth. The luscious silver paint feels futuristic and soft in your hand. The first generation 8767s had a peeling paint problem, but my phone is from the fourth generation and the paint is solid, yet soft. If you drop your 8767 or otherwise scratch it, the paint may get dinged, but I much prefer the sleek feel of the silver 8767 in my hand over the stippled black “indestructible” plastic of the 7868W. The 8767 is a bit bigger and slightly wider in the hand near the hinge than the 7868W and I actually prefer having a bit more phone to feel — you can better control it while dialing. I’m told the 8767 is actually a slightly heavier than the 7868W but I don’t feel the difference. In fact, the 8767 feels lighter in my hand than the 7868W. I also love the rubbery Motorola logo on the flip lid and the keen Verizon “cushy logo” near the earpiece. Those are nice aesthetic touches you won’t find on a competing phone and as a consumer I vote to reward those delightful, unnecessary, wonderful, extra touches with my wallet.

Display
The display on the 8767 is the killer difference betwixt it and all other phones. “Night and Day” is not descriptive enough of the differences. I’ve seen the raves for the 8767 display in the newsgroups and none of them did justice to the beauty and clarity of the “Organic Electro-Luminescent Display” of the 8767. I will, however, try to give you my own take on the amazing experience of the 8767 display.

In New York City the local city busses destination and origination signs on the front and side of each bus. The background is black and the letters are bright yellow dots that spell out the destinations in a dot matrix pattern and you can subsequently see which bus you want from a block away. The display on the 8767 is the same experience as the bus sign — except brighter and clearer and in green! Another example of how bright and clear the 8767 display is to think of the runner’s times you see flashing at the Finish Line of big races like the New York City Marathon — those gigantic numbers on a black background are precisely what the 8767 display conveys and feels like — except brighter, clearer and in green!

Everything on the 8767 display is bright green except for the time in blue and the orange-ish “No Service” (NS) icon. The background is black. You can set the contrast yourself in the phone’s options — but the best looking contrast is the default — blasted all the way up. You can set the screen to be at its brightest during use for 15 or 30 seconds. If you don’t touch a button in 15 or 30 seconds, the display will dim by about half — still readable — still lovely — and it saves your battery a bit. If you need to get bright again, any touch of a button will bring the display back to full life.

If you haven’t experienced the display of the 8767 you simply must if you consider yourself a Telecommunications Giant or a cell phone power user — but once you do view the display, be prepared to shell out the bucks to buy because you will simple NOT be able to live without one of these beauties ever again. The dim, chalky, streaky LCD display on my 7868W with its weak backlight is simply pitiful, plain and ancient — there’s no kinder way to make the astounding difference clearer to you than to say the 7868W is black and white television while the 8767 is High Definition TV.

Lethal & Loud?
The vibe on the 8767 is not as lethal as my 7868W. I find that disappointing. The volume on the 8767 is also not as loud as my 7868W but the level difference isn’t disconcerting.

Interface & Web
Some compare the Motorola user interface experience to that of a DOS command line session and there’s some veracity in that point of view because using the 8767 (and the 7868W) is generally a plain text experience. DOS, however, is quicker than Windows and compared to other phones on the market, familiarity with the cross-phone Motorola interface can make for a faster end user experience. Using the Wireless Web on my 8767 is the same command interface as on my 7868W. Would I prefer a more luxurious browsing experience? Sure. Must I have it? Not now. The bright display on the 8767 satisfies any present desire I have for a more beautiful user experience. The 8767 feels nearly five times faster doing web and email than the 7868W — and my 7868W has all available Flash ROM upgrades (those updates fixed an awful echo problem I had in Manhattan when I would call a landline phone). The 8767 snaps information on the screen the instant I touch a button while the 7868W will sort of process the key presses when it feels like it — which can take from one second to ten seconds or more.

Buttons
The buttons on the 8767 are also quite a nice change. They’re bigger and rounded and that makes them much easier to find and press compared to the 7868W. The POWER and END buttons are recessed farther than the other buttons and that makes it harder to hit those two buttons by mistake. The command buttons on the side of the phone are also much softer and easier to press than the 7868W. Pressing the 7868W side buttons is like pressing your finger into three pins while the 8767’s side buttons are like touching a letter on your keyboard.

Antenna
The 8767 uses the same ugly antenna as the 7868W. The antenna is black and ugly and it does not look like it belongs on the beautiful 8767.

Accessories
All accessories for the 7868W will work with the 8767 except the batteries. The 8767 uses a different battery and I’ve discovered the 8767 battery lasts much longer than the 7868W and it also seems to take twice as long to fully charge. You get an AC adapter a big battery and a SWIVEL holster bundled with your 8767. I love the swivel holster and the 8767 swivel holster is bigger and harder to swivel than my 7868W swivel holster. I confess to liking the bigger holster and since the 8767 is harder to swivel, it tames in position better than the 7868W swivel holster.

Pre-Programmed Location
One thing I did not like about my 8767 from Verizon was the fact that dialing location 01 (reserved for emergency dialing even if the phone is locked) was pre-programmed to “Customer Service.” I speed dialed the 01 location by pressing the 1 key and holding it down until dialing commenced and it actually connected me to a GTE Wireless service center! Huh? GTE? I hope it wasn’t a toll call! I thought this was a Verizon Wireless phone? Even my startup logo says “Verizon.” I quickly erased the 01 memory location and filled it with my own true emergency number — but what a silly and unnecessary hassle.

Conclusion
The 8767 is the phone to have. It’s sleek. It’s handsome. It’s vibrantly bright. The sound quality is clear and resounding. If you ever want to know which phone to buy based on aesthetic and functionality — head into a Verizon Wireless store and quietly watch what the salesfolk and techies are using because they only use the best phones. The salesfolk and techies are on their phones all day long and they won’t settle for second class — they all want phones that are reliable and safe and friendly. All the techs and salesfolk I know are now exclusively using the 8767 whereas a mere three months ago they were all holstering the 7868W. I give the Motorola Timeport 8767 our best possible rating: Five out of five GO INSIDE Magazine Review Lights.

(all green)