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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Freak-a-droids, Robots! Please report to the dance floor.

I have undertaken my second attempt to become a smart phone user with purchase of a new Motorola Droid. My first attempt ended in ruin, and by ruin I mean with a cracked screen due to riding around in my pants pocket. I was out with my family and I knelt down to tie my shoe and it was all over. I had only had the thing for 3 months but I had really found much use for the thing. The screen was too small to do anything really productive on and the flip out keyboard was nice but kind of goofy. Only the ability to mount memory cars without removing the battery still stands out as the most useful feature of that phone. At the time I didn’t even think that this was that big of a deal, but almost 5 years later I have still never had a phone with that feature.

I feel that I must confess before we continue that every other cell phone I have ever owned, with the additional exception of my second phone which was a particularly crappy Samsung, has been made by Motorola. This may graduate me into the ranks of the raving fanboys. This criticism may be fair but I still believe I have purchased the best phone my budget and network would allow with the possible exception of my first phone, a Motorola Timeport, which I bought solely because it looked like a Star Trek communication. I have grown up a lot since then, and frankly so has Motorola.

Without getting into the details of each phone I have owned and why I liked it specifically I will say that as a general rule I have bought Motorola phones because they are sturdy (and the need to be to live through a 2 year contract commitment with me), they usually use standard USB ports for data and charging, and more often than not that have made phones that are not unattractive. You will remember that I previously stated that I bought the first phone for its Star Trek like qualities and take that last point with the grain of salt it deserves. These items of my adoration remain
strong points when talking about the Droid.

The thing feels study. An iphone feels sturdy as well, true but it is easy to make something with no moving parts feel sturdy. When you slide the keyboard out on the Droid it feels substantial. It snaps in to place and it feels robotic. I doesn’t feel cheap as some sliders do. And on the keyboard, it looks how I would think people from the future would think we citizens of the past would think an everymans keyboard of the future would look like. The copper accents almost add an element of steampunk to the device. As far as the usability of the keyboard is concerned, I am still quite new to using it but I think that you actually get a little more haptic feedback when using the navigation buttons (which are part of the touchscreen) than you do with the keyboard. It feels almost too smooth and I have had some difficulty getting my fat thumbs to type accurately. This has brought to my attention another problem with the device and that is that the browser lacks a spellchecker in text fields, which is a feature I dearly rely on. There are other browsers available, but I haven’t looked into them yet. This is not a game changer, but it is something I certain would rather not do without.

Back to the physical, the screen on this thing is amazing. At 480 by 854 it totally smoked the iPhone even though the screen real estate is about the same. It is hands down the sexiest part of this phone. Granted, the Droid itself really isn’t really sexy. It is certainly not as sexy as an iPhone. The lines aren’t as sleek. It isn’t as thin. There aren’t any color choices. But to me, that’s all okay because I am not looking for a sexy phone. I am not really Apple target demographic. Besides, I really wasn’t looking for a useful accessory. I am looking for a tool. One to help keep me organized and make my life a little bit easier. The Droid started doing that as soon as it came out of the box.

Upon activation, one of the first thing the phone does is ask you for is your Google account credentials. Now, this will not seem like big whoop to some of you, but as a user of Gmail and Google Calender it was awesome to see that the contacts I had set up in Gmail were already populated to my phone, and my calendar was already set up. It was then easy to log into Gmail from my PC and update the rest of my contacts instead of having to enter them into my phone individually. It’s nice to be able to add contacts without having to touch the phone. Additionally there is a App for Google Voice with is pretty sweet and allows you to use your Google voice number to place calls and send SMS. I am sure if you think about that you can figure out a way to use that to your Cell Carriers disadvantage.

All in all I have to say I am very pleased with my purchase so far, but I haven’t even had it a week yet. I will try to write something a little more in depth after I have had further time to play with this awesome little device.

posted by Matthew at 11:12 pm  

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