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Keeping the Droid

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my first impressions of the Motorola Droid phone.  Now that I've worked with it for another two weeks, I made the final decision to keep it as my only phone.  Here's why:

  • I like the form factor -- it's a large touch screen with a slider keyboard.  The size and weight are fine.
  • It's very fast and responsive.  Also, it's been pretty reliable in terms of software stability.
  • Voice quality is very good (with one caveat below)
  • I really like the Android OS.  There are plenty of apps, and new ones all the time.  I really wanted to be on an open platform that's going to stay current for a while.
  • Also, Android offers a very rich interface with lots of shortcuts and multiple ways of doing things.  Very handy and efficient to use.

I identified a few issues before, most of which I have overcome.

  • I'm now used to the keyboard.  It's not optimal, but it works fine.  I can type fairly quickly with minimal errors.
  • I decided to purchase Touchdown from NitroDesk for my Outlook/Exchange email/calendar/contacts.  It's a big improvement over the built-in Exchange email that's part of Android 2.0.  Specifically, it let's you move email to folders, respond to appointment requests, and synch your tasks.  It's not perfect, but worth the $10.  Email and calendar are still the biggest reasons I have a PDA.
  • Battery life greatly improved when I turned off background data synchronization.  Android opens up lots of apps and they'll keep making data requests if you let them.  With the fast Verizon 3G network, there's much less of a need to keep the data trickling in through the background.
  • I used an application called Apps Organizer to categorize my applications and organize them on the desktop.  This saved a lot of desktop space and makes the '3 pane' desktop more than sufficient.

Some things I learned:

  • There is a software bug in the current release that causes the person you are on the phone with to hear a significant echo.  You can workaround this by turning the phone speaker on and off.  You don't have to do this every call, but only once in a while.  This will be fixed in the software update planned for December 11.  A bit of a nuisance, but only for a couple more weeks.
  • You should change the voice codec from the default to EVRC-B.  This made my mumbling a bit easier to understand for those I called.
  • You don't have to buy the fancy Motorola docks to put your phone into the media player or car navigator modes.  The phone comes with an app called Car Home which does the navigator.  And, there is a free app called DockRunner which puts it into the media player mode.
  • New apps come all the time.  One thing I gave up with my Windows mobile phone was the DirecTV Supercast application to stream live NFL games if you get NFL Sunday Ticket Superfan.  Within a few days of getting the phone, DirecTV released an Android version.  And, DirecTV seems to be testing other new Android apps, too.
  • At least for now, Verizon has a Twitter feed called DroidDoes with helpful tips.  They may cancel this, but I think that they have heard from users that they should keep it going.

I tried an iPhone and couldn't get comfortable typing with it.  And, I don't use my phone as my primary music player, so sync'ing the Droid with iTunes wasn't important (and there's an app for that which I haven't tried).  Overall, I think that the Droid is the best package of features for a smartphone.  I'm happy, at least for a while.


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