One week with the Motorola Droid

By | November 16, 2009

I have been carrying the Motorola Droid from Verizon around for a little over a week now, and while I haven’t learned all the ins and outs of the phone, I have certainly used it long enough to form an opinion.

motorola_droid2Positives:

1. Multi-tasking. The Droid is a great device for multi-tasking. Holding down the home key for a second or two brings up a list of applications that are running. Simply chose the application you want and it zips you to it without closing the application you’re working in. This may not sound like a big deal, but I have found it to be the single most useful function on the phone. While composing an email I can quickly move to a website or drug information resource, get what I need, and move right back to my email. It is a very nice feature. Imagine if you could only run one application at a time on your laptop.

2. Lightning fast. The Droid is fast. It moves from application to application with amazing speed. In addition, moving from website to website is also fast.

3. Screen quality. The screen on the Droid is very sharp and clear. I have no trouble reading on the Droid, including very small print from websites when zoomed out.

4. On-screen keyboard. The onscreen keyboard is very easy to use and accurate to my touch. I actually prefer it over the physical keyboard.

5. Customization. No conformity here. The Droid lets you do just about anything you want. The screens are especially flexible allowing you to add not only shortcuts to applications, but shortcuts to contacts, website bookmarks, and widgets which give you access to real-time information.

6. Wireless and Bluetooth. Self explanatory.

7. Integrated Google apps The Droid has remarkable integration with all your Google applications including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Reader, and even Google Voice. Set-up is a snap and the applications themselves are quite robust on the Droid. As an added bonus, the Droid comes standard with Google Maps which I used yesterday to take us to my daughters cheer competition in Sacramento.

8. Verizon network. Obviously the Droid is on the Verizon network which I prefer over AT&T. I would have been using an iPhone a long time ago if it wasn’t for the poor coverage provided by AT&T. The same thing could be said for me as it pertains to Sprint and the Palm Pre.

9. Sound quality on the Droid is darn good which I really appreciate when using my mobile phone to actually make a phone call. The external speaker is also solid, if not a little quiet.

10. Swappable battery. If you use a smartphone a lot, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The ability to pop in a fresh battery instead of running for a charger is a major plus in my book.

11. The camera is very nice and I haven’t had any of the auto-focusing problems listed elsewhere.

12. Widgets. Widgets are applications that people can drop onto their home screen for quick access and interaction with information. For example, I have widgets for YouTube, Google search and NFL football scores on one of my Droid screens. The YouTube widget allows me to search for videos without leaving my Droid screen. The Google search is crazy good, especially the voice recognition function which allows me to speak my search string instead of typing it in. It is a great feature. The NFL football scores widget is self explanatory. The scores run across the screen so I don’t have to access the internet to retrieve the information.

Negatives:

1. Keyboard. While serviceable, the physical keyboard just doesn’t work well for me. The combination of the Droid’s flat keys and my fat-finger syndrome make it difficult for me to use. As mentioned above, I prefer the onscreen keyboard.

2. Battery. I use my Droid a lot. I use it to follower my Twitter friends, read and respond to email, surf the web, jot down ideas for posts, watch YouTube videos, etc. I cannot make it through a 24 hour period on a single battery charge. Fortunately, the Droid battery can be changed. I can hear all you iPhone users out there jumping on this statement as a major drawback to the Droid. Don’t even try it. I have observed many an iPhone tethered to a wall charger in the pharmacy after the user spent some time on the internet or watched a few videos. I’ve also seen my share of people tethered to the wall in airports while checking email and sending text. So put the holier than thou attitude down and just walk away.

3. Limited software. This really isn’t as bad as it seems on the surface. The Droid Market is growing every day and many of the applications I want and need are available; Twitter, Facebook. LinkedIn, etc. I’ve tried every Twitter client for the Droid and have yet to settle on one. TweetDeck was my app of choice for my iPod Touch. I sent TweetDeck a Tweet and asked them if they were working on a Droid version, but the company never responded to my query. I expect the list of available applications to grow significantly over the next year as Android phones gain popularity and the operating system mutures.

4. Limited drug information resources. This goes hand in hand with negative number 3 above. I really miss having good drug information resources on my mobile device. I am currently using Merck Medicus and Skyscape for health related information. Lexi-comp confirmed that they are working on an Android version of their stellar drug information application which should be out later this year. Again, I expect the number of applications for healthcare to grow as the Android market matures.

5. Weight. The Droid is a brick. There’s no way around this one.

6. There is currently no easy way to take a screen shot on the device itself. Someone please write an app that will allow me to do this.

A couple of things I would change if I could:

– Remove the physical keyboard from the Droid. I don’t need it, I think the onscreen keyboard is better and it adds physical size and weight to the Droid. The HTC ERIS has a better form factor, but I like the 3.7” inch screen on the Droid better than the 3.2” screen on the ERIS. If I decide to return the Droid I plan on picking up the ERIS.

– Add multi-touch to the Droid. The U.S version doesn’t do multi-touch, even though Android 2.0 supports it. This makes no sense to me. Again, the HTC ERIS offers multi-touch which irritates me even more.

Overall the Droid is a great device. It is very powerful and flexible for people who need to feel like power users. Can the phone be used by the casual user? Of course, but it also offers the flexibility to go beyond that for those of us that like to play. I have about three weeks left on the trial period for my Droid and I plan on putting it through its paces during that time. At this moment the phone is definitely a keeper, but I have my eye on the HTC ERIS as well.

6 thoughts on “One week with the Motorola Droid

  1. Jerry Fahrni Post author

    True, but I have to get the programmer on board….

  2. Arden Vandenheuvel

    At the same time as I love a physical keyboard, after dealing with the Samsung Captivate for approximately 15 minutes, it’s hard to move back. Right now I’m debating whether or not to visit Verizon for the Droid X, go to Sprint for the EVO, or stay with AT&T for the Captivate…selections, decisions.

  3. Jerry Fahrni Post author

    I forced myself to stop using the physical keyboard on my Droid and haven’t missed it a bit. Looking at the Droid X myself, but I think I’ll wait a few more months to see what Android devices appear on the radar. They seem to be popping up at lightning speed. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  4. Pingback: Motorola DROID getting some attention in the pharmacy literature « RX Informatics.com

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