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Two of the most broadly read and influential tech reviewers released their opinions on the new Motorola (MOT) Q smartphone in comparison with the Palm (PALM) Treo 700p. This head-to-head showdown is key for both companies, as they have alot riding on their product's success.

The reviewers reached similar conclusions: the Q's sleek design is a winner, but Motorola's Windows Mobile for Smartphones OS just doesn't hold water against the latest Palm OS. Key excerpts from each:

Walt Mossberg, Wall St. Journal:

we still prefer the Treo for serious users of mobile email, Web and Office.... The Q is a mixed bag. Its hardware is elegant. Its software is annoying, often requiring two clicks to do what takes one on the Palm.

Motorola chose a more stripped-down version of Windows Mobile software than the one used on previous keyboard phones, and it does work better one-handed... If you don't use email too much, or if you've never used another smartphone, you might not miss the more user-friendly features that the Treo 700p has to offer.

David Pogue, New York Times:

the Q's hardware positively clobbers everything else out there. You have never seen so spectacular a screen. It's a triumph of brightness and clarity. Its extra width makes it feel much more spacious than the Treo 700P's, despite having lower resolution...

this software's designers must believe that you bill by the hour; getting anything done on this phone requires more steps than the Empire State Building... Example 1: After you take a picture with the camera, what options would you want to be immediately available? Maybe Save, Send and Delete? Not on this phone. These options are all hiding in menus; activating Send, for example, requires four more button presses. (On the Treo: one.)

It's important to note, however, that the Q is being sold for much less than the Treo 700p -- the Q is $200 + contract from Verizon, and the Treo is $399 + contract from Verizon or Sprint. Is the cost differential enough to compensate for its software shortcomings?

Comparison chart from the WSJ:

Source: Mossberg and Pogue Pan Motorola Q's Usability, Prefer the Treo 700p (MOT, PALM)