Monday, November 16, 2009

My Thoughts on the Verizon Droid

Here's a few of my thoughts on the Droid. Be sure to recognize my bias as a recent purchaser of the device, but most of these features speak for themselves.

They seem to have developed a really intelligent way to run simultaneous applications without too much system resource usage. You can listen to Pandora while flipping between reading Facebook updates and mapping out your trip in Google Maps.

Android allows you to add widgets to your home screen, which would be more enjoyable if it had more pages. It has three as opposed to other Android phones which can have around 8. With room for only 16 shortcuts on a home screen minus the 4 spaces the Google search bar occupies, I was feeling cramped and wanting more room pretty quickly. You want to have shortcuts to your applications and try out the widgets as well.

One annoying aspect of the Droid's design is that to wake it from sleep/lock mode, I have to feel around among the hard edges of my protective case to find a thin little button in the top right corner of the device. Even with the case off, the button has really bad ergonomics.

Another problem is battery life. With heavy use, it might not make it through the day. Fortunately, it uses the same connector as the ubiquitous Moto RAZR, so adapters are inexpensive.

I'd been dying to try Geocaching for a long time now, and this thing does it pretty well, if you can figure out how to use the apps that are available right now. Currently I have to manually download the waypoint files to my computer and copy them onto the device because of a bug in the android code. After working though the process I found my first cache with Geena the Saturday after I got it.

The tie in with Google's services such as Gmail, contacts, and Google Voice is a huge convenience for those of us already enjoying them. Google has developed some incredible applications. Google Maps with turn-by-turn navigation does way more than your Tom Tom does. Google Sky creates an augmented reality view of the sky, showing you the locations of all the celestial bodies.

The new Motorola Droid runs Android 2.0 as opposed to other Android phones on the market, including the new Verizon HTC Eris that runs Android 1.2. The Eris was released at Verizon Wireless on the same day as the Droid, but they didn't advertise it at all. I strongly considered it because of it's small size, but opted for the bigger, more powerful Droid. Eris advantages are 8 desktop screens, pinch zoom for web browsing and pictures, and it's comfortable size. It lacks a physical keyboard, and it has less impressive specs in general.

The Linux-based Android operating system requires some sort of technical aptitude. I really appreciate the openness of the platform. The hackers haven't figured out how to "root" the 2.0 version of the Android operating system, but most people won't need to bother with this. It doesn't seem like Verizon has been able to lock it down in any meaningful way, so you can install just about any software that you, or some kind soul on the internet has written. Because Linux is simpler and easier to work with for many programmers, it is likely that there will be an exponential increase in the number of apps in the marketplace.


Chuck said...

Nice review. I'm pretty happy with my iPhone but if I didn't have coverage here, iy sounds like an ok replacement. BTW, I think you've got some cut and paste error / repeated paragraph thing going one.

Fitech said...

Whoops. Thanks for the catch.

Puff said...

I've been thinking about the Droid for caching but the extra $30/month from Verizon is an issue.