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Motorola Droid Smartphone Follow-up Review

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I am happy to report that the Droid is a pretty good phone, has a serviceable speakerphone and good Bluetooth connectivity. However, after three months of trying to love it, I am giving up and going back to a BlackBerry, here’s why: first, the lack of a physical button to answer a call creates some very ergonomically awkward situations in the real world.

To answer a Droid call you must slide a virtual button from side to side. This is relatively easy inside, where it’s dry and the lighting is artificial. Outside on a cold or rainy day, the cool factor goes away instantly. On a bright sunny day, you can’t see the screen. On a cold day, you have to take your gloves off to answer. To be fair, this is the case with any phone that uses a pure touch screen, but it becomes a real issue in the real world.

Now, unlike the iPhone, the Droid can run more than one app at a time. This sounds like a fantastic feature, and a major selling point. Unfortunately, it is very hard to turn an app off, so it doesn’t take long for the phone to become overwhelmed. How big of a problem is this? The number one downloaded app in the Droid app store is “Advanced Task Killer” an app you must use dozens of times a day to kill apps that are slowing down your phone.

Speaking of slow, displaying or responding to a txt message can take 10 or 15 seconds. And basic apps like your contacts, email or txt message client freeze, lock up or just crash constantly. The number of gestures required to answer a txt message is on the border of insane. First you must turn the phone on, unlock it with the slider, then either press the txt app menu icon or try to slide down the status bar — another impossibly annoying design failure — then, you have to wait for the txt window to populate, then decide which keyboard you want to use to answer. On an iPhone or bberry, the phone just wakes up with the message displayed and you’re ready to respond. On a Droid, you can’t carry on a txt convo with one-minute delays between txts, because the process will simply drive you over the edge. The fix, elongate the time the screen stays active. Easy … as long as you have a handful of extra batteries. In practice, it is not possible.

Just to continue the rant, and I know this is a rant, Google is a less emotionally satisfying experience on the Droid than on my iPhone or my old BlackBerry. I don’t understand why this is, but the Google apps for iPhone rock and the Google apps for mobile, which I use on my bberry, makes a BlackBerry a mini computer. On the Droid, not so much.

I could go on and on, suffice it to say … I gave the Verizon Droid a good ol’ college try, and after three months, I’m done! I cannot think of a situation where I would recommend the Droid over a current model Blackberry Curve or Tour. As for it being an iPhone killer … not any time soon.

About the Author: Shelly Palmer is the host of “Digital Life with Shelly Palmer,” a weekly half-hour television show about living and working in a digital world which can be seen on WNBC-TV’s NY Nonstop Tuesdays at 10p Eastern and online, and the host of “MediaBytes,” a daily news show that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment. He is Managing Director of Advanced Media Ventures Group, LLC an industry-leading advisory and business development firm and the President of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, NY (the organization that bestows the coveted Emmy Awards). Mr. Palmer is the author of Television Disrupted: The Transition from Network to Networked TV (2008, York House Press) and the upcoming, Get Digital: Reinventing Yourself and Your Career for the 21st Century Economy (2009, Lake House Press). You can join the MediaBytes mailing list here. Shelly can be reached at shelly@palmer.net For information visit www.shellypalmer.com


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