About a month of testing has made me, unabashedly, a big fan of the Motorola Droid smartphone from Verizon. In fact, the thought of going back to another phone is almost inconceivable after spending a month putting the Droid through its paces. It's proven to be a smartphone with a keen interface and high-level of usability that's loaded with cool features that can help your business performance and keep you entertained and informed.
Let's start with that touchscreen. The feedback and response are excellent; it's a haptic feedback screen, meaning there's a tactile sensation — a little vibration — that helps you reconcile the touch-based navigation.
The Internet is fast — really fast — whether you're utilizing Verizon's 3G network, or a local Wi-Fi hotspot. And the included browser takes advantage of that for a very pleasant, almost full-function Internet experience. As of press time, there is no support for Flash, which limits use somewhat.
The e-mail integration is a dream; depending on your settings, you can be notified in real-time of new messages via sound cues or simply a subtly flashing green light. The interface is a key component of the appeal: it's a mobile version of Gmail that is as easy to use as on your desktop machine, except for the typing factor, of course.
The built-in navigation, including integration with Google Maps, is fantastic and free. No paying extra for what is one of the best turn-by- turn navigators I've encountered. Finally, I was very impressed by the voice recognition capabilities. The power to speak your Google search item into the phone and return results is more than a gimmick; it's quite useful on the go.
I could get into more details that I like — the video and audio capability; other GPS integration besides navigation; the very nice camera (with flash) and more. But the phone does so much, an exhaustive review would take several pages. However, readers should take note of a few hiccups. The worst thing about the Droid is the battery life.
When a convergence device performs so admirably that you want to use it all the time . . . you need to be able to use it all the time. While I suspect that my amount of use trumps what an average user's typically would be, mid-day plug-ins to a workstation are a distraction that should be fixed.
The slide-out keyboard allows for typing while still using that big, vibrant screen rather than the touchscreen's virtual keyboard. However, the physical keyboard is fl at and blocky. Finally, it's a little heavy — heavier than the iPhone. This is not a huge issue, but worth mentioning.
Suffice it to say I'm more impressed with the Droid than any new phone in recent memory. And I'm happy that the contract with my current carrier is up in a couple months.
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