The Wonderful World of Droid

I'm up and running with my first smartphone, the Motorola Droid—and I love it! I call it NineTee (short for G2-9T), because it's quite a talky thing. I won't bore you with all the phone specs, which you can read about elsewhere. But I did want to share some of my initial experiences and interactions with the device.

 

First of all, getting it set up with my email accounts was a snap. Naturally, the Gmail app is waiting for you on the phone's desktop when you first power up the Droid, and it's a simple process to input your email address and password if you want to sync a Gmail account. But even setting up my work email was done in just a 5-minute call to my company Help desk to get the necessary Exchange Server information. And by the time I was off the phone, all my email and calendar information had already synced to the device. Nice!


If you travel much for business, you'll probably like the Google Maps Navigation app. I got to try this out on an evening drive into Boulder, Colorado, to see a concert at a theater I'd never been to. I typed in the theater address as the end point; the app uses the GPS to default the starting point as your current location, but you can change that if you like. I clicked Go, it thought for a moment, then displayed the route overlaid on a familiar-looking Google map and started speaking the directions, which worked flawlessly. On the way home, I got to see what happens when you miss a turn it wants you to take. Again relying on the GPS for your current position, it reconfigures the route on the fly—and doesn't give you any attitude about not listening to what it wanted you to do the first time. All quite simple to use, and available at no extra charge on Android devices.


While at the concert, I got the chance to try out the phone's camera in low-lighting conditions—just like all the rest of the goobers in the audience. The Droid's camera has several pre-set lighting modes, one of them being Theater. This mode sets it for low lighting and also automatically turns off the flash, which I thought was a real nice touch.

Great Big Sea in concert at the Boulder Theater, 3/13/10

Overall, the picture quality was rather grainy, although whether that was due to the camera itself, the lighting, or user error, I don't yet have enough data to say. (The band, by the way, is Great Big Sea,

in case anyone's interested.) There's probably a business-case use for this technology, such as taking shots of slides during presentations; you'll have to decide for yourself whether that's worthwhile or not.

 


I managed to upload a picture or two to Facebook during the show, through the included Facebook for Android app, as well as posting status updates and responding to several comments from friends. Yes, I felt like a typical smartphone-toting geek. But whadaya gonna do? I'm quickly getting used to the small keyboard, although I've pretty much stuck to the physical keyboard; whenever I try the on-screen keyboard, I seem to get about three letters for every one I want. I find it interesting to consider that most of these things are as ingrained as breathing to people about half my age, yet it's all still new to me.


I've had but limited use of the phone itself, which might be due to the fact that I haven't actually given the number out to anybody. (You might recall that I've never owned a cell phone before this, which is largely because I prefer to be out-of-contact.) The calls I have had, however, have been perfectly clear and successful. I used the Droid for one hour-long conference call. It was on speaker the whole time, and I was surprised to find that the battery drain was almost negligible. Battery life altogether has been really good; only the navigation app—using the GPS—has caused noticeably quick drain.


On the whole, it's been a fun and pleasant experience so far. There are a few weak points to point out, but I'll save those for my next post. Stay tuned!

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