Get ready to meet the next big innovation in mobile communications technology: the hinge.

The Sierra Wireless Voq Professional phone is a rather ordinary-looking, somewhat bulky handset with a traditional 12-button keypad. Flip back the keypad and you reveal a miniscule QWERTY keyboard concealed inside, making the phone into a rather ordinary-looking, somewhat bulky handset with a keyboard sticking out to one side.

It’s a halfway-decent solution to a thoroughly nagging data-entry problem that will continue to plague smart phones from now until the era of perfect voice recognition. The problem with this solution is that the flip-out keyboard looks funky, and thumb-typing on a tiny keyboard is bad enough without having to deal with a big hinge in the middle.

Granted, there are plenty of things to like about the Voq. Its large, bright screen makes viewing contacts, e-mail messages, and other information easy. Because the Voq is based on Windows Mobile, syncing with Outlook is straightforward, and it runs standard Windows Mobile applications, including the built-in Media Player. An SD slot on the side makes memory expansion easy.

While its broad strokes may look enticing, the details drag the Voq down. Its USB connector is flimsy and doesn’t reliably stay connected to the cable. The phone’s body is made of plastic and feels cheap. And the tiny, hinged keyboard just isn’t as usable as a solid, one-piece unit.

For now, the Voq isn’t available from any major carriers; it’s aimed at companies with IT departments that have enough time to configure it and get it to sync with enterprise information systems. If the boss demands a flashy new toy, the Voq may be enough to placate him. Consumers, however, should steer clear. -Dylan Tweney

Best Feature: Has a keyboard
Worst Feature: Has a barely usable keyboard

Sierra Wireless Voq Professional
Weight: 5 ounces
Size: 5.2 x 2.1 x 1 inches
Specs: 850/1800/1900MHz GSM/GPRS; 25MB of RAM (12MB available); 220 x 176-pixel, 2.2-inch LCD; USB 1.1; infrared; SD slot; flip-out QWERTY keyboard; headset port; Microsoft Windows Mobile 2003 Smartphone

* * 1/2

Link: Sierra Wireless Voq Professional

Link broken? Try the Wayback Machine.