Monday, December 7, 2009

This is the Droid I was looking for

I've got a blog, so I guess I should review things.

A week ago, Verizon  gave me enough incentive to get the new Motorola Droid.  For a very long time, I've wanted a device to carry around that had the full array of communication tools.  I hate talking on the phone (unless it's to my wife). I much prefer to communicate via email, and lately I've keeping in touch using Twitter and Facebook.  Google Voice has given me a great voice mail system.  As I'm in front of the computer a lot, it's usually not a problem, but it also makes the times I'm away worse.

Also, I love to read.  Pretty much anything and I'm a big user of Google Reader and Read It Later for work research and for several interests (tech stuff, history, martial arts, writing).

When the iPhone came out, I figured this would be it.  The tool I had been looking for.  But, between the cost, which I could not afford at that time, and the fact it was on AT&T, which I did not want to return to, I never got one.  Since then, I've been unhappy with some of Apple's handling of the iPhone, specifically locking it against true multitasking and the issues with the app store.

So I got really excited about the release of the Droid.  After that build it, you just know there was going to be some disappointment.

Well, first I have to say I love it.  I even love the name, Droid.  How geeky can you get?

Before I go much further, I'll let you know a few dislikes I have with it.
  1. No access to Google Wave.  I actually have been keeping notes on things like my likes and dislikes of the Droid on Wave, and it would be really nice to be able to access it from the handset.
  2. The plugin for the recharger/data port is right below the keyboard, and it is difficult to use while plugged in.
  3. Occasionally does not respond. I guess this is one of the downsides to multitasking.
  4. Battery life is horrible.  Properly another downside to multitasking.
  5. The biggest one right now is, if I want to use the alarm and be able to hear the phone if it rings, but don't want to hear notifications for chat, email, messaging, or Google Voice, I have to go turn each those off individually, and quit Twidriod.  It would be nice if there were one place to turn all of those off. Since I use the phone as my alarm clock, and my wife would wake up to every notification even if the phone were downstairs, I have to go through this every night and every morning, turn them back on.
Now specific things I really like:
  1. Once again, the name.
  2. The first app I downloaded was Google Sky.  My wife and daughter both decided they needed one after just seeing that app.  It is awesome.
  3. The notification system, even with the above problem.  It simply rocks.  If an email comes in, just pull down the notification bar and click on that notification.  Chat, messages, etc, all in one place.  I love this feature.
  4. The Computer interface just mounts on the desktop. Has worked just fine on both Windows and Linux, and I'm pretty sure it would work under other *nix's and OSX. To copy music or images over, just copy them. Put them in any folder structure and the music player just finds them.
    After losing my iMac to a power failure, I've had problems updating our iPods.  Just having a simple disk mount interface to the phone is a wonderful thing.
When I first began thinking I wanted a single communication device, two things I did not want were an Internet browser and a music player.  I didn't want to browse websites with a 4 inch screen.  Thought it would be terrible.  And I had an iPod. I did not want to risk running my battery dry listening to music, and not have a phone when I needed it.

Having said that, and also having said I love to read, I find the web browsing to be very decent. The screen is gorgeous.  Even my wife commented on that.  I broke my glasses a few weeks ago, so it's fun to watch me hold the droid at arms length sometimes, but I often don't.  Reading blogs, news stories, etc, is very nice.

And my iPod has started having problems.  It's over 4 years old, and probably has a couple more years left in it, but I wanted to try the Droid as a music/podcast player for a few days. First off, I have to have the Droid plugged in whenever I'm at my desk or I don't think the battery would last half the day under that drain.  It's not quite as good at playing music as the iPod, I've heard a few skips I've never heard on the iPod, but it is still very good at it.  More than good enough for what I need.

I think the Pandora app may be growing on me.  I resisted downloading it because I didn't want to stream music to my phone.  Leave that for the computer.  But I did it recently and found that it is awesome.  Pick an artist you like, and you get lots of great music.  I've tried Phil Colins, Huey Lewis and the News, and Steven Curtis Chapman and have been very pleased.  For a while at least, I'm trying to only run it at home where I have Wi-fi.

All in all, I'm incredibly happy.  Hopefully next month I can afford to upgrade my wife's phone to one.