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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Creature of habit

While I like to think of myself as adventurous and willing to try new things, the truth is I'm mostly a creature of habit. I do think it's good to break out of our molds once in a while, which is what I did when I agreed to "test drive" the Motorola Droid X, a smart phone from Verizon Wireless. I didn't receive any compensation for doing this or for blogging about it. I just agreed to do it because I thought it sounded like fun.

I'm a pretty big fan of my iPhone, so the Droid X was up against some tough competition. The first thing I noticed is that the screen size on the Droid X is about 1/2-inch taller than on the iPhone and when I powered up the phone, the resolution on the screen was crystal clear.

Droid X bot Mike was with me when I received the tester phone. He was pretty excited about the fact that you can hook the phone up to a computer or TV screen and watch whatever is on your phone screen.

I was more interested in the cute little green bot that showed up on screen when I first turned the phone on. Though I have to say that the "Droid" voice that tones whenever a new e-mail or message comes in sounds like it would fit with a menacing storm trooper than with that little green guy.

Probably my favorite feature of the phone was the "talk to text" feature. Instead of clicking out a text message, you can talk into the phone, which will then translate your voice into text and send it. That's very handy if you are tempted to text and drive (which I of course never do. I make Annie do all my in-car texting for me from the shotgun seat.)

The size of the phone turned out to be a little difficult. It is too large for me to handle and dial with one hand, which I find myself doing with the iPhone if I'm trying to multi-task. The selection of apps was decent, though the kids were disappointed there was no "Angry Birds" app. They made do with pinball and Poke-a-Mole.

One of the cool apps I didn't get to really try was the Blockbuster app. Because I was using a guest account, I couldn't try paid apps. While the Blockbuster app is free, you have to pay to download movies to the phone. It would have been cool to try, but even without trying I could see where that big screen would make movie viewing enjoyable. I'm as much a Netflix fan as I am an iPhone fan and I wish the two of them would follow Verizon and Blockbuster and offer something like that on the iPhone.

I may not have been able to rent movies, but I could shoot my own using the Droid X's HD videocamera. I gave that a whirl at the Indiana State Fair. The video of  Robbie singing about the fair was shot on the Droid X. So was this racing pigs video:

What was even more cool than shooting the video with the phone was that I could do some minor editing right on the phone. Unfortunately, the saving and uploading to my You Tube account proved to be a little frustrating and not as intuitive as I would have liked. I finally figured out how to do it with Robbie's video, but then couldn't remember what I'd done when I wanted to shorten another video. The resizing is important if you intend to e-mail videos.

I'm sure if I would have had the instruction manual or taken the time to Google the trouble I was having, I could have worked it out in no time. And to be fair, the Verizon rep called me to offer assistance, but I didn't have a chance to get back in touch.

In general, I found the Droid X to be less intuitive than the iPhone. For somethings you scroll across the screen to move forward or back, for others you have to go off-screen to the back button at the bottom. The search function doesn't search the phone, but does an internet search instead.

I think I was a little at a disadvantage -- or maybe it was the phone's disadvantage because I am an iPhone user. If I'd been testing the Droid X and did not already have the iPhone patterns ingrained in my head, I probably would have found it less frustrating. But in this case, being a creature of habit probably didn't help me too much. If you're in the market for a smart phone, the Droid X is certainly one to try. Then you could have your own cute little green bot.