Last month I did a quick synopsis of the new iPhone “killer”, Verizon’s Motorola Droid. Well I’ve used the device for a month now and I have to say that I’m still loving it as much as I did when I first started using the device. It is not an iPhone so it is not as elegant and easy to use, but it is still the best smartphone I’ve used to date.
Some additional thoughts/comments…
· Exchange syncing – the default client for this works fine, but is lacking in creature comforts (no signatures, can’t change font, can’t move items to other folders, can’t sync tasks, ….). Not a huge deal, but an annoyance compared to other devices. Rumor has it that an upgrade is coming in any day now so maybe that will change. Luckily there is a program called Touchdown which is a much more robust and full featured Exchange syncing application. For a $10 download your email worries can go away using Touchdown.
· Keyboard – it is not perfect, but the more I use it the faster I’m typing so it is working pretty well for me. The top row of buttons are a tad too close to the screen and the buttons are a bit too flat, but after a while you get used to it and typing is a breeze.
· Screen – beautiful, big bright, and crisp, but I do find myself cleaning my finger smudges off all day long though. Not too big of a deal.
· Weight – The device feels like a brick when you first pick it up, but it feels more solid than just heavy. It is only 6 ounces and when you hold a Droid in one hand and an iPhone in the other, you can only tell a slight weight difference. Overall it is not a big deal and well worth the sacrifice. It’s amazing how much an ounce or two of weight is a big deal nowadays.
· Indicator light – My old windows mobile device had a couple of little led lights to show when Bluetooth was on and when there was a new email. It was so darn bright that I could easily see it across the room and had to put the phone face down at night since it would literally light up my bedroom at night. With the Droid there is a light that flashes green for new messages, but it is remarkably dim. I need to be a few feet away just to see if it is flashing. Not a big deal, but it is a little annoying.
· Screen Lock – It seems like all of the full screen devices have a screen lock that forces you to move a slider or something to access the phone’s desktop. I’m not sure why it cannot be turned off completely since it is unnecessary for my use. I hit the power button to put the phone in standby mode which turns off the screen. When I hit the power button again to put the device awake again, I have to do the screen lock unlock process each time. Seems like a waste of time.
· Phone – the overall quality of the phone has been excellent. Much better than my old phone. The calls have been clear and the speaker phone works great. The only thing I’ve noticed is that holding up to my ear for a long time is not the most comfortable experience, but then again most cell phones are not.
I recently read an article about a top level Microsoft executive saying that today’s smartphones are not about the application since they are easy to produce. The guy must be in complete denial or on drugs since now that I have easy and seamless access to over 10,000 applications, I find myself being places or needing to do something and just downloading an app to help me get it done. Ultimate flexibility for sure.
Below is a short list of applications that I have found to be universally useful or interesting. Most are free to boot.
· Locale – Amazing application that allows you to program your phone to do actions based upon time, date or location. Among other things, I have mine set to turn off the email alerts from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM and put the phone on vibrate mode only when I approach the local movie theatre.
· Google Voice Search – The system works really well. Just say what you are looking for or wanting to do and it does an unnervingly great job.
· Google Navigation – Another amazing app. In conjunction with Google Voice Search, you can ask the phone to navigate you to an address or place and it will put you in to navigation mode and give you turn by turn spoken directions. It even pulls up a Google street view picture of your location when you arrive.
· Google Sky – A novelty, but it is amazing to point your phone at the sky and see in real time the stars and planets mapped out in the appropriate location. Move your phone and the map moves in real-time with you. Something you have to see to believe.
· PdaNet – Connect your smartphone to your laptop via an usb cable to get internet access.
· Places – Leverages your GPS location and the internet to find what is around you. Need to eat, just click the Restaurant button and it will show you all of the places to eat within a few blocks and also allows you to click on the restaurant to get more information (address, phone number, user comments, menu, etc.).
· Qik – Stream real-time video and audio to a website for others to tune in.
· Sipdroid – Have an IP phone and want it work on your smartphone? Use this app.
· Talk to Me – A universal translator. You speak a phrase in one language in to your phone and it speaks the phrase out in another language. It works really well.
· Touchdown – A full featured email client for Exchange. Only $10 and is way more feature rich than the built in email client.
· WeatherBug – The free version works well, but if you opt for the $2 elite version you get the advertisements removed and animated radar. I like this weather app best since it puts the current temperatureat the top of the screen. It also auto updates depending on your location using GPS.
· Barcode – The free app leverages the camera and the internet to scan barcodes of items while you are shopping to then quickly give you the price that others are charging. I recently used it while shopping with some extended family members and it worked great.
· Layar Reality Browser – This program augments reality with an overlay of web based information using the camera. Point your phone are something and information will appear pertaining to it. For example, you are traveling to a new city, you can point your phone down the street and virtually over each building you will see information pertaining to that location (IE: if it is a museum and such).
· SpeckTrek – This is a game that leveraged augmented reality. You hold the phone parallel to the ground it shows were virtual ghosts are within your GPS range. You hold the phone up perpendicular so you are looking straight at the screen and you will automatically switch to the camera view with floating ghosts around that you try to capture.
· Tricorder – Yes just like the Star Trek device (kinda). I’m not a Trekkie by any means, but the tool is worth downloading. It gives you data from all of the phones sensors and some data from the web. We can get real-time data about your gravity, magnetic fields, acceleration, light, noise, temperature, object proximity, and geographical information.
To conclude my Motorola Droid comments, I would have to say, go out and get one if you are using Verizon, want/need a new smartphone, and the touch screen aspects appeal to you. Overall the device works great and is a pleasure to use. There are plenty of apps to keep you busy and entertained, with more being added every day.