While I’m a major geek and I love technology, I’m also cheap. Ergo, we’ve had the same cell phones for three years: HTC 8125s. They’ve been good phones, but they ran a very outdated Windows Mobile operating system with limited functionality. I eventually convinced Debi that it was time to upgrade to new smart/app phones (to pay the difference in our monthly bill we dropped cable, which isn’t a big deal since we rarely watch TV these days anyway). As Linux users, we obviously were not interested in buying phones with the new Windows 7 Mobile operating system on it. We also didn’t want iPhones, which would force us to run Windows or Mac OSX in order to get iTunes. And, I’ve been hearing great things about Android (which is now more widespread than the iPhone in the cell market), so we went with the new Verizon Droid Incredible Android phone:
The specs are pretty impressive, but really I’m just very, very impressed with the basic functionality of the operating system and phone. Phone operating systems have come a long way since we bought our HTC 8125s with Windows Mobile 5. It’s quite literally a smart phone as the following feature illustrates: the screen goes blank when you put the phone up to your ear to talk and comes back on when you pull it away from your ear. That simple feature is genius for two reasons: (1) You can’t push any buttons with your face when you’re talking, which Debi loves, and (2) you don’t have to hit a button to bring the screen back up to hang up when you’re done as it automatically comes back up for you (our old phones had both of these problems). Genius. Google Maps and Navigation are super slick – so long dedicated GPS. You can pull up Google Maps, search for something, find it, then click on it and select navigate and the phone instantly converts into a GPS unit with audio directions that include street names. Also, the map is scrollable while you navigate. It’s super slick! Of course, there are lots of apps, but I find that I don’t really use most of the apps, just some of the basic stuff – like Gmail, Google Reader, the internet, and Google Maps. Oh, and the phone integrates perfectly with your Google Contacts and Calendar, making it super easy to schedule appointments and update contact information on the go. You can also use Google Chat on the phone as well, which is even better than text messaging for instant communication (Debi and I have used it already). Oh, and if you have a Google Voice account (which I do), the integration is superb! It manages all of your voice and text messages in a fashion that is really quite remarkable.
I was a little wary about the lack of a slide out keyboard, but once I found out that the phone has the ability to transcribe voice (and it’s pretty reliable), I figured it was unnecessary. Plus, the horizontal on-screen keyboard is just as good as a slide out keyboard as far as I’m concerned. So, at this point, I don’t have any complaints. It’s a remarkably slick, sleek, useful device. Oh, and as an added bonus, there is a free Tricorder app for Android that actually works, generating pretty interesting information, including compass directions, wireless networks, signal strengths, and solar activity:
Now I can walk around with my phone and say, “Let me check my Tricorder.” Geek heaven!
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