Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Monday, November 09, 2009

Verizon Droid Day One; First Impressions

I’ve tried them all and I’m still not sure how we classify the new Motorola Droid. We’ve called them plenty of names; SmartPhone, Personal Digital Assitant, Pocket-PC, AppPhone but there isn’t a generic term yet for a iPhone Wannabe Device(IWD).

Of all the hand-held digital devices, I’m pretty excited about the Droid. I’ve been an iTouch user for over a year but it’s not a phone. I’ve used a Verizon MiFi for internet access so I can use the apps which are actually more valuable to me than a phone. I refused to switch to an iPhone because AT&T 3G service in our area stinks. The Droid may finally provide almost everything I needed in a single hand-held device.

If you’re looking for a full review of the Droid this isn’t one of them. There are hundreds of them online that review specs and typical review topics. This is as the title says Day One and I’ll tell you what I like along with all stupid things I still haven’t figured out. Watch for Day Two through Four and more as I explore more this week and learn how to unleash the full potential of the Droid.

Physical Keyboard Day One
Not all Droids have the physical keyboard which is a little confusing. I have the Motorola Droid but Verizon is also selling the HTC Droid Eris which only has a virtual keyboard and uses an older version of the Android operating system.

I thought one of the things I’d really love is having a physical slide out keyboard. So far (it’s only day one) I still like using the virtual keyboard. When I did use the physical keyboard weird screens would pop up because I may have been hitting shortcut keys. Keep in mind I’ve been using an iTouch and I don’t have any experience using a Blackberry type device. As far as virtual keyboard goes I like it even better than my iTouch. The Droid has a much better predictive dictionary so I don’t have to touch as many characters.

Applications Day One
Apple make have a million applications but just so many you really need. It took me a little while before I realized I needed to open the “Market” icon if I wanted the App Store. For me, the first apps I downloaded were Facebook and a Twitter client called “Twitwalk”. Facebook is barely usable and doesn’t come close to the one of the iPhone. Twitwalk is pretty plain but usable. I picked TwitWalk because it has the most stars but there are many others. I’ll write about other applications as I learn more.

The weirdest thing I’ve experienced is on the top of the screen. It appears that I’m running multiple copies of applications. I remember someone on Twitter saying they had to download a program to close apps but I suspect this is user error. There is a Manage Applications selection under Settings but it doesn’t seem to list what I’m seeing on the top bar.

Camera Day One
I’ve read good and bad things about the camera. It’s very easy to use and below was my first successful posting of a photo from my Droid to Facebook. My first attempt was to use the “Take a Photo” button on the Facebook application. This resulted in what looked like a thumbnail in my Mobile Uploads library. What I finally did was go into the Droid “Gallery”, find the photo and then share it with Facebook to get a reasonable size.


Stay Tuned for more photo and video tests later this week.

Phone Day One
Making my first call was simple and as easy like it should be. The call quality was exceptional. When I received my first phone call it almost didn’t happen. I tried to touch the green phone on the screen but didn’t know I actually had to slide it to the right to answer.

One cool thing that worked on Day One without any effort was importing friends into my Contact list from Facebook. This was a surprise and was kind of cool when I saw my wife’s Facebook profile photo appear on my phone when she called.

GPS Day One
As far as a phone goes the GPS is brilliant but still needs a little work to compete with stand alone devices. I took one short trip around town using the GPS along side my Garmin Nuvi but it probably isn’t a fair comparison. It didn’t help that the Droid kept calling my street “Sunni-side” Road and not Sunnyside. I’m going to need a little more time to fully evaluate this feature.

Tomorrow I’ll be spending some time in a hospital waiting room so I should have plenty of time to explore more. Stay Tuned for My Droid Day Two.

Day Two; In Search of Apps

Day Three; Copying my Music

Day Four; We have a Map for That

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Blogger John L. Galt said...

Hi, Bill,

Good notes on your day one use of the DROID. A couple of observations:

re: TwitTalk - Use the free version of Twidroid. It works, and it works well.

re: Apps continually loaded - yeah, a handful of app devs have started writing auto close / shutdown features into their apps, but for the most part you'll have to kill them yourself. I highly recommend the free version of Advanced Task Killer....

re: camera - there is a thread going on over at Howard Forums re: the camera- it seems older hardware assemblies (39th and 40th week) seem to perform better than later assemblies(41st and 42nd (my build) weeks), but a leaked internal memo to Verizon staff indicates that possible relief for this (and other) issues could come as soon as Dec 11...see

re: GPS - wanna hear a good one? Instead of selecting Navigate, I selected "Show in Maps" - and could not understand why it was not talking to me and the maps would every so often freeze up....The pronunciation is a bit off, but what burns me is that the data they have on my neighborhood is incorrect - all addresses are 180 degrees around the circle from their actual location. I have reported this to Google numerous times, and yet it still shows the wrong location. In contrast, when I bought Streets and Trips 2008, I reported it to M$ - and they had it fixed upon the next update - and still do through 2010....

Let's see how day two goes....

11:25 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

@John, interesting info on the camera based on build week. Mine is a 39 and I keep saying my pics/focus look better than a lot of the complaints. Thanks for the info!

8:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Bill,

My two cents on the keyboard. I went to the local Verizon store today and saw they have two droid versions. One with and one without a physical keyboard. When I previewed the phone online I saw a keyboard that looked square in its layout, like the enV. What I saw in the store was completely different. It was a completely flat, square keyboard with a rubber cover. No individual keys. It reminded me of a really old data organizer. I hated it.

-Brian Wells

5:48 PM  
Blogger Jim Getten said...

So, does everyone feel the future is a droid and, what's a good formula for determining "Do I need a smart phone or a plain cell phone and a netbook?"

6:30 AM  
Anonymous Wilson said...

I have been using my Droid for around 2 months and find it indispensable. I can track my gf's plane flight on google maps, take excellent pictures (5 mega pixel cam) use skype, chart my retirement funds, etc. Mine is fast and easy to understand. The number of apps a phone system has is only material if they have the ones you need. I like using GPS for various reason, including where you were when you took pictures. 16mg of built in storage is more than I will probably ever use. I love my droid

8:43 AM  
Blogger Jim Getten said...

Still deciding on phone & carrier. I like Verizon coverage especially in the West where population is sparse. I'm leaning in favor of the Droid X but haven't made a choice yet.

8:58 AM  

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