If you were expecting a blog post on glass today, sorry to disappoint you. But, in case you didn’t know, I am also a bit of a techno geek. Not hard core, mind you, but I do get excited about technology like my new Droid 2 phone. I like gadgets in general. I went through a stage of cooking gadgets, and I still love my Roomba vacuum cleaner. For the last week I’ve been exploring all that my new Droid 2 has to offer. So in this post I thought I would share what I’ve learned and my impressions so far. When I started my search for a new phone, I scoured the internet for reviews on Android phones. Most of the reviews leaned toward the technical information. I want to share more of the practical issues.
First, let me tell you that basically I picked the Droid 2 over other Android phones because of the physical keyboard. When I evaluated phones at the Verizon store I picked up every phone I was considering and typed a simple sentence. The phone with the least amount of typos was the one I went with. Virtual keyboards and I do not get along. Somehow I always miss the keys I want. And ladies, take note! With many of the new phones, you can’t use the tip of your finger nail. You have to use the fleshy part of your finger tip. Some keyboards, like on the Droid Pro, are just too small for me. The keyboard on the original Droid X was too flat, but this new one on the Droid 2 has a slightly rounded keys that feels good. And now that I have a data plan and will be typing www.blahblahblah.com more often the keyboard was a primary consideration.
One of the first things I noticed about this new phone compared to my last one is how heavy it is. Not sure if it is because of the keyboard or battery, but I can see how a Bluetooth headset would definitely come in handy with this phone. Maybe Santa will bring me one (hint… hint…)
And while we’re talking about batteries, yes the battery can drain quickly, but it also charges quickly. My children pretty much said, “You are just going to have to get used to charging it every night. That’s just the way it is.” Actually, they might have said, “Get over it.” I used to charge my old phone once a week. But then I wasn’t using it as a calendar and searching the web. So when I bought the Droid 2, I also bought an accessory kit. This has come in very handy. It included a car charger, a car docking unit to use with navigation applications, and a charging/docking station that I have on my night table. I use my phone as an alarm clock. The docking station is very handy for this. When the phone is in the docking station it displays the time and weather. The display is dimmed, but it was still too bright for me. I finally figured out that the power button turns the display off and the camera button turns it back on. When you get up in the morning the phone is fully charged, provided you put it on the dock properly.
Which brings me to another point; I bought a snap on case for my phone just because I like to keep it protected. The salesman at the store told me that the phone wouldn’t fit in the dock with the case on, but that it is simple to remove the back. Not really. After struggling for several nights to get it off, I now only have the cover on the front. The phone also won’t fit into the car mount with the cover on. So in retrospect, I probably would have skipped the cover. I also bought some non-glare screen protectors. Unfortunately, they reduce the overall clarity of the screen display.
One of the things I disliked about my old LG Dare phone was the butt calls or in my case – purse calls. I don’t know what the heck was going on in my purse! Once as I shopped in Walmart I heard, “Hello! Hello! Hello?” from a vaguely familiar voice that sounded distant. It took me a while to realize it was coming from my purse! My phone had somehow called someone on my contacts list. The Droid 2 alleviates this by requiring you to press the power button and then swipe the screen to activate it. Two steps instead of one, but worth it to me. Swiping the screen is new to me. I now also have to swipe to answer the phone. I do miss the hard key I had on my last phone that would answer the phone without having to unlock the screen. Hopefully it won’t take long to get used to this.
Swype on the other hand, the application that lets you move your finger across the virtual keyboard to compose text is not something that has been working for me. One of the nicest surprises, however, has been the voice to text function. This one is actually pretty good. I find myself using it quite a bit to send a quick text message, search for something in Google, or add a sticky note. As long as you talk clearly, and only say one sentence at a time, it works amazingly well.
One downside I have found is that it does take some time to set up the phone the way you like it. There are all kinds of apps that come preloaded. Most of which I don’t use, and unfortunately you can’t remove them, at least not easily. This really annoys me. So if you are the type that abhors clutter, you have to learn to just ignore the extra apps. I also wish the apps that came with the phone for the most commonly used tasks like text messaging and the calendar were better – more customizable. I ended up downloading a different text and calendar app based on recommendations from my son. In my opinion, this shouldn’t be necessary. Also, if you are moving from a Blackberry phone there are significant differences in how email is handled. One of the biggest issues my daughter has with her new Droid is that there is no way to download and store emails locally to the phone. I might be missing something, but how difficult can it to have a save to phone option on an email? And believe it or not, there is no app for that!
That’s my take on it so far. I am still exploring the multitude of apps available. One of the ones I am most excited to try out is called Square which will allow me to accept credit cards at shows without having a monthly service fee. Ironically enough, the app was developed by a glass artist. I’ll share some more on my favorite apps next week.