Monday, November 22, 2010

Turning Pro (Droid)

I just received a loaner of a Droid Pro (no, they're not available on Verizon's Global Loaner program yet, but I gots connections -- Thanks Alan!).  My 1st-gen Droid doesn't have a global roaming capability, and I head for Nice on Saturday.

Switching over was relatively simple: Just called Verizon up and gave them the new hardware ID's on the phone. Activation and logging into Google brought in almost all my apps (except those downloaded outside of the Android Market), and all my files came over on my MicroSD card.

High points: MotoBlur is a little spiffier than vanilla Android 2.2 (Froyo), with 7 home screens instead of 5, and a number of active widgets that put it close to on par with the active blocks in Win7Phone. If I cared more about social media, I'd probably be squee-ing, but, no.  The batteries are the same as the Droid, so I may take the other as a spare. There are a number of extra apps, which I haven't had a chance to play with yet: Camcorder, City ID, Dialer (slight changes from the standard Phone app), DLNA, Files (a real file browser built in), Verizon Account Manager, NFS Shift, Social Networking, Task Manager, VZ Navigator (bleah).  I was a little disappointed that I had to reconnect to all my other accounts, but that was managed very well by an Accounts tool.  Nice point: EasyTether still works (and they've got great support -- got me a new activation key within minutes), so I don't have to shell out $$$ to use Verizon's tethering. It would be nice to have the hotspot feature, but hey, for avoiding a $30 charge, I don't mind having a cable.

Low points: Form factor. It's a little thinner and lighter than the standard Droid (no slide keyboard), but the keyboard is smaller, and there's a BlackBerry-like keyboard at the bottom. Lose it, and I'll use Swype instead.  They also moved the order of the four main buttons (Menu, Home, Return, Search instead of Return, Menu, Home, Search) -- but apparently that varies on every phone: my son's EVO has yet a different layout. The case is also a much cheaper-feeling plastic, versus the heavier coated metal back of the Droid. While I didn't like the position of the USB cable in the Droid, it's worse on the Pro -- lower on the left, where I'd hold the phone.  The BB-like keyboard doesn't have the cursor keys that the Droid's slider does, and it's harder to click on a particular piece of text on the smaller screen.

Everything is a little different: the email program is significantly different, in the browser bookarks are a list versus a grid, notification icons are all different.   Nothing I can't get used to, but it hardly makes Android look like a "platform."

Most likely, I'll just be getting used to the differences around the time I hand it back.

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