My First Day With My Droid November 7, 2009Posted by craftlass in phones, technology.
I’m not usually an early adopter. I like watching other people deal with the bugs and other troubles that usually come with brand-new devices. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t care about being cool, I like things that work.
Yet… yet… the moment I first saw a Droid ad, I was intrigued. I ate up reviews and the official web site. I fell a bit in love. As a die-hard fan of Google products, I’d wanted Android since I first heard about it. As a person who has been treated very well by Verizon, I wasn’t going to leave for any phone. It seemed these things were coming together at last – just the phone I’d put together in my own head might be a reality!
However, I would never make up my mind without trying the thing out. A trip to the local Verizon Store confirmed I couldn’t see one in person until today (well, yesterday, technically). I tested out the Storm2, it was nice and has good promotions going on right now (free netbook, anyone?). Finally, it was actually the day of the Droid. I called the store to make sure they still had some in stock and the salesperson cheerfully said, “We just got another 50 in a minute ago!” Perfect.
I walked in the store and simply said, “Droid, please,” and the salespeople pointed me right to it. Luckily, there weren’t many people there and a few Droids on display, so I got to try typing on all the various keyboard setups, browse the New York Times web site, and check out a YouTube video. Everything worked perfectly and I had no trouble figuring out how to navigate. I knew at that moment getting one was no longer a choice, it was a necessity.
The moment the guy handed me my own Droid and said, “Enter your gmail account information,” I got even happier. There’s just something about the whole Google thing. The search bar right on the home page is very convenient and how can things get cooler than synching with what you already use for email, calendars, etc.? Unfortunately, there were quite a few people I had never really filled out the contact details of so I had only emails for a few. Never mind, it gives me a great excuse to get in there and update the contacts, which I’ve been meaning to do for over a year anyway! The point is, the phone syncs seamlessly with all kinds of Google features and that is great for anyone who uses a lot of them, as I do.
As much as I wanted to dig into the fancy features, I knew that the first test had to be for voice. After all, what’s the point of any phone if it’s not as crisply clear as possible? A quick call to my father revealed that it was better than my last phone, which had great voice quality. A later test with my new LG HBM-210 Bluetooth headset went just as well, he claimed he couldn’t hear the difference, and he’s been known to complain a lot about call quality when I’ve used other people’s phones to call him, so I know he’s picky.
Just after voice comes texting, one of my main forms of communication these days. The Droid stores them in threads, with all texts to and from the same contact in one group so you can refer back. It’s a fabulous feature reminiscent of gmail (and one of my favorite aspects of gmail, too).
Of course, the first app I downloaded was for Twitter. It’s called twidroid and it’s been working really well for me. New tweet notifications come in on the same bar as text, voice mail, and other notifications are displayed on. When I pull down the bar it displays every kind of message I have, all in one drop-down list. Click on the message type and it opens up whichever program you use to check that kind of message, including Visual Voice Mail (unfortunately, the Visual Voice Mail is an added monthly subscription, but it’s cheap and very handy).
The keyboards have all worked really well for me. I have never liked any other touch-screen keyboard but this one functions beautifully, no double-typing and rarely a keystroke missed. Obviously, the landscape mode is better than portrait due to width. It does the thing were it gives you options for words you may be typing that you can click to just enter without finishing them letter-by-letter, which is quite handy. The slide-out keyboard is a little awkward at first but very nice and it’s possible to use it with gloves, something you just can’t do with the touch-screen.
The only problem I’ve had is that it doesn’t come with a full manual, just a quick-start guide, and that doesn’t mention you need to download the drivers for synching with a computer. Looking back I feel really stupid that I didn’t realize this and I connected the phone with no drivers and tried to open a file folder for the drive. It screwed up my SD card and I had to reformat. Luckily, the only things I lost were some silly pictures I took that I didn’t mind losing. Once I got the drivers loaded on the computer it all synched up perfectly via the USB cable, which also acts as a charger. There is a wall wart that attaches to the USB for charging by outlet as well. It’s not the fastest-charging phone, although I’ve only charged it via computer so far.
The battery does seem to last quite awhile, though. I took it out on a less than 50% charge (the screen tells you the amount of charge when it’s plugged in) and it lasted for a few hours with quite a bit of display usage (have to show off a little, right?) and still had 30% left when I got home. For travel I’d like to get a backup battery but for local use I think it will survive through an average day out with no problems.
Oh, and the pictures! Well, obviously I can’t share the ones I took since they got deleted, but they looked phenomenal on the screen and the camera feels much more like a real camera than any other phone I’ve used. There is a shutter button on the side as well as a touch-screen button and you don’t have to do anything (like save or erase pictures) between shots. With lots of options similar to digital cameras it’s a competent camera, not just an add-on to a phone.
My other favorite feature is the standby button. It puts the screen to sleep and wakes it back up but if you hold it when in normal mode it gives you quick options for silent and airplane mode as well as “Power Off”. When the phone first wakes up you get an unlock screen that can also be used to make the phone silent. Silent mode on the Droid turns off everything but media and alarm volume, which I really like as a person who almost solely uses my mobile phone as an alarm but doesn’t want to get woken by calls or texts.
The home page seems really neat, too. You can choose what apps you want on it and rearrange to your hearts content. All apps are also available in alphabetical order in a menu that you drag up from the bottom, so you don’t need to clog up your home page with items you use less frequently. The apps themselves are often quite cool, so far I’ve mostly downloaded free games and a few tools, but I’m looking forward to digging further into the pile of options.
Oh, one other complaint: It’s not compatible with VCast or any other music with DRM. If you want to sync music bought from a store that uses DRM you need to add the non-DRM upgrade to the tracks. I get it with other companies that use it, but VCast? I only bought one album and five or six random songs from them but it’s a bit frustrating that I can’t use my own cellular company’s store’s tracks. I feel bad for anyone who bought more and Verizon should really make it compatible with both their downloads and their Rhapsody program.
So, I think that sums up my discoveries so far. It’s hands-down the best phone I’ve encountered (and I’m the sort that asks perfect strangers if I can play with their phones just to see what they’re like, oddly, they often let me). Neither Verizon nor Motorola has given me a dime (other than the discounts I was entitled to as a long-time “New Every Two” participant), it’s all my very own opinion.
I’m debating changing my name from CraftLass to HappyLass for a few days.
If you have any questions for a real Droid user, please send it adressed to @CraftLass on Twitter or post it in the comments. I’ll do my best to answer as many as I can.