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2 Droids are better than 1

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Kevin Cross
Father, husband and general problem solver who loves coding SQL, C#, Salesforce Apex or whatever.
As you may know from my boasting, "Finally ... I have a DROID !", I now have an Android 2.2 device and specifically a Verizon Wireless Droid 2 for which I am hoping to provide an early review within this article.

Disclaimer:
This is my humble opinion only. I am not affiliated, other than being a customer, with Verizon. Consequently, this is not meant to be a comparative article between devices that other providers offer or even those also available at Verizon for that matter. This article is simply my thoughts and preliminary observations of my new business and personal device.

With that all said, let's get started …

1. Background:

The quest for device begins...Shortly after starting with my current employer in 2005, we purchased Palm Treo 700w devices sporting a QWERTY keyboard and Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system, so I was very spoiled with the ability to type very quickly with one or two hands (thumbs??) on my phone while doing "geekish" server administrator type things like using a terminal session from my phone at the Atlanta airport when I got stuck there coming back from a visit. In addition to this, using programs like Joikuspot, the Wi-Fi hotspot or tethering was a great business asset of my phone.

Moving forward to 2008, we were early adopters of the BlackBerry Storms, which has been my phone up until yesterday. My boss and a few others had since traded back for devices like the BlackBerry Tour and, recently, the BlackBerry Bold because they missed the Treo-style keyboard and track device over the all touch screen Storm. I, however, got used to it and liked a number of the features. The Storm is great for e-mail and messaging in general, which is pretty much why I carry my phone (*laughing* not phone calls – I don't like to talk to people, I'm in IT!); however, the 9530 model I had lacked the internal memory to sustain my growing needs for applications and I did miss the Wi-Fi and keyboard of my Treo at times.

So, that brings us to the present day. Several weeks ago, I made up my mind to take action on wanting a new phone and actually went into a Verizon store (since I had no compulsion to change carriers at this time) to purchase the Droid X or possibly with good arguments the BlackBerry Bold. My boss recently had a Bold sent to him as a warranty replacement to his failed BlackBerry Tour, so I had an opportunity to see it in action as well as know some of its niceties like being a world phone. The Droid X is all touch-screen and the Bold is not touch screen at all but had my beloved keyboard and the new track pad featured on most of the new BlackBerry devices. I thought my choice was absolutely between these two and was leaning heavily to the Motorola with the consideration of memory and applications being in the forefront of my decision. After waiting my turn browsing the devices, it came down to actual purchase time and I was advised the Droid wasn't in the store and would be delivered in a week and so was asked "you sure you want to purchase this now, the Droid 2 will be here August 12th".

2. Droids

Android 2.2 Released.
...Motorola DROID 2 arrived today!
On August 12th, it took everything in my power not to run out and upgrade my phone on the spot and I am glad I didn't as it was well worth the wait for my Droid 2 as I got it at an extremely reduced price for being patient.

For those now highly curious, for a number of years now, Verizon has been giving customer loyalty credit in addition to 2-year contract renewal discounts. The amount seems to be based on years of loyalty. These discounts though are only available after a certain date (length into current 2-year contract), which for me August 16th. On August 17th, I met with my corporate account executive who informed me about the ins and outs of purchasing through a business program and for all your benefits: ONLY purchase devices online and speak with your account manager (if applicable) or a sales associate to learn about your specific discounts as a Verizon customer.

But I digress, so back to the Droid 2.

An improved Motorola Droid:

DrDamnit provided a nice review of the Motorola Droid in his article, "Motorola Droid - Why I converted to Verizon after 11 years with T-Mobile", so you can refer there for some of the general details of Droid and what the Android operating system brings to the table that I may not discuss here that have not changed:
Open Source
Workability
Exchange
Google Platform
Voice Recognition
The [5MP] Camera
Data Integration
Tethering

Some key features of the Droid 2 and Android 2.2:
With Bluetooth, GPS and WiFi, the DROID 2 has everything I needed for my business phone out of the box before I even dived into the "Market" for the large quantities of cool applications out there.
Wi-Fi tethering! YEAH!! Still monetized by Verizon, but as pointed out in the Droid article they can't stop the open source community from providing a work around to…um…re-enable a free feature of Android.
Remotely wipe and lock device or enforce other security policy like password complexity and lockout for failed attempts. This is nice as an administrator of our corporate phones.
Enhanced browser performance and Adobe Flash player 10.1 a plus, which will be tested once my obsession for Experts Exchange translates to my spending countless time speaking answers to questions at my Droid…Droid "does" SQL.
The easy shortcuts to the phone, application launcher and browser remind me of a feature of the BlackBerry I liked so thought that was also a plus.  
A slide out, QWERTY-style keyboard that has been improved to feel more natural than the original Droid's. I am still getting used to it as it feels like the space bar should be slightly longer, but, given the convenience of arrows that help act in place of the track pad removed and other keys usage, I think it is a fair compromise and will be easy for me to get use to especially since I am not coming immediately from another keyboard that it has to live up to whereas my peers who have other keyboard styles notice it more.
VPN client and other nice networking features. I have yet to really play with the VPN clients, but am intrigued by the prospect of loading the SonicWall VPN on my device as I have read a couple of places it will be available in the "Market" at some point. OpenVPN is readily available, though, so a definite plus for those needing impromptu remote access on the go.
1Ghz Snapdragon processor (nothing more to say)!

Some minor "does not's" for Droid 2 and Android 2.2:
I will start off with the only major con I have seen so far: the battery life! The phone arrived at 1:30p ... By 5:30p my new wireless device was warning me of <5% battery and shut down on my way home ... that is less than 3 hours really given the phone was on the charger at least until 2:30p (granted that probably wasn't a good full first charging).
Battery life … or the lack thereof -- my initial reaction to 3 hours battery life probably wasn't fair. With it being the first moments where "playing" with your new toy is at an all-time high coupled with the rushed charge to get going, metrics there can be skewed easily but still think it will be concern to watch when actually using intensive applications. On a standby-basis (more relaxed usage like today has been for me) the Droid 2 battery appears to be able to make it through a day after a full charge through the night: 7:35 am, a short while after sun rise in my part of the world, through 8:30 pm, which happened to be right at sun set today. BlackBerry users, you will love the fact that accessories carry over at least from Storm, Curve, Tour or Bold that I have seen; therefore, you, like I, probably have a backup car and desk charger. Between that and my multimedia dock to turn this into my alarm clock and charge bedside, I am quite content with my getting pass this issue.
As mentioned storage was a consideration, so the lack of the 16GB SD card pre-installed for the marketed price is a bit of a disappointment, easily overcome of course by purchasing another. Just a principle thing with me that the brochures show it and for the price tag you expect it, so why doesn't it have it...the saving grace is Android's ability to run applications on internal and external storage better than I had experienced with the Treo and BlackBerry devices. Additionally, the 512MB flash and 8GB internal storage aren't minuscule.
Aggregation of contacts is highly aggressive. If for example, you are like me and have other people with the same name in your Facebook contacts, then they will all be linked together along with shorter variations (e.g., Kev Cross and I, Kevin Cross, are now linked). A fix for this is in the works.

Another criticism for me is that the nice Recent Messages Widget, which I find of great business value by the way, doesn't have the choice to pull your Gmail messages which is funny since that is the mail account you have to have configured … but I am guessing it is really a limitation of only pulling from one e-mail and I appropriately (for me) have my corporate mail set as default. Not a show stopper for me as I just check my Gmail box, infrequently, to ensure I am not missing any messages of importance throughout the day. I actually moved this Widget and in fact the whole first screen to the left to the middle home screen as I mentioned yesterday.

Okay, one more thing … I originally was disappointed in the Gmail client implementation which I found funny being a Google-based OS because you had to scroll all the way to the bottom of messages to get to the reply, reply all and forward buttons; however, it is nice that you can hold down the menu (far left) key until you get your keyboard or simply slide out the physical keyboard and press "r", "a" or "f", respectively, to accomplish those same tasks.

As you get use to the device and learn its shortcuts and/or find nice tidbits on the Internet, I am hoping you agree this is a great device. If nothing else, the open source and cool factor should be enough to wow you a little.

2. Droids ... Again ?

Verizon Strikes Back.It was a huge choice for me personally to go ahead with the purchase on the 17th knowing what was coming in the Droid world in September: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38641498. As I said though, I had some financial incentive I couldn't resist, but if you are a Verizon customer and have no time crunch to purchase a new device … oh, and you are a "Star Wars" fan, then the Droid 2 R2-D2 edition is likely worth the wait: http://www.droiddoes.com/r2d2/.

Please share any cool features of your R2-D2 Droid with us, if you do …

10. (X) Droids

...are better than 2 ?For the reasons I went into during the background, it was hopefully clear why the Droid 2 was the perfect marriage of touch screen with a physical keyboard and operating system capabilities for me, but I can definitely see the arguments of others that the Droid X is even better (especially once it is upgraded to the 2.2 version of Android).

If you like a total touch screen experience, I can attest to the abilities of the Droid X, having seen one up close and personal in use here at work. The camera capable of capturing 8MP pictures and digital video and then pipe all this out via HDMI is definitely a draw.

2. Does:

Decide for yourself ...So, the choice is yours on what device you get in the near future, but my personal opinion is the Droid 2 is a legitimate business asset and is definitely a good choice.
Definitely going to have fun with this once I get acclimatized more to the keyboard and how to get around quickly ... the touch screen being so responsive and the impressive predictive, interpretive intelligence of "swype" makes the discomfort of readjusting to keyboard after having a pure touch screen Storm 9530 previously as does the voice recognition capabilities. I mean, being able to initiate a text message by saying "Text John Smith" and then following this up with "Dear John, ..." and having that all translate properly hands free is very productive.
Now everything has its shortcomings, so ensure that you are aware of your needs and how they mesh with the abilities of the Droid 2.

Thanks for reading my ramblings …

Best regards and happy coding,

Kevin C. Cross, Sr. (mwvisa1)

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If you found this article helpful, please click the Yes button after the question just below. This will give me (the author) a few points and might encourage me to write more articles.

If you didn't or otherwise feel the need to vote No, please first leave a comment to give me a chance to answer and perhaps to improve this article.

Thank you!

For those of you that did find this of interest, you may also want to read the following article(s):
Why Droid: An Interview With An Android Developer
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Programming/Open_Source/A_2350.html
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Author:Kevin Cross
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by:Herb Vasquez
Nice review, I had the first Moto Droid and loved it. Just upgraded to the DroidX 2 weeks ago. It was between that and the droid 2 but I wanted a little more real estate on the screen since I often have to remote into servers on the go and I use the Logmein Ignition app...

Not a huge fan of the Motorola software loaded on the device so I installed Launcher Pro to speed things up and it works flawlessly. All around I love android, and i've owned almost everything. Samsung SCH-i760, Motorola Q, Samsung Omnia, HTC Touch, HTC Touch Pro, BB Storm, BB Tour, BB Storm 2, Palm Pre Plus, (which was nice but hardware felt cheap), iPhone 3G, Droid Eris, Moto Droid, and now Droid X...
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by:Kevin Cross
Good luck!  My Network Admin uses the Droid X and loves it also.  The real estate, especially on remote administration as you said is a real joy.  Definitely nice having ability to turn off some of those applications.  The service providers sometimes IMHO act with good intentions but end up creating a mess.

If my phone was for personal use only, maybe I might enjoy having the Blockbuster app, for example, but to have it always running and not eligible for uninstall is a bit much.  As you said, it just slows down the unit unnecessarily.  I would prefer to have the device come out working as fast and as secure as possible out of the box and then as a user bog it down by choice by adding in all the fun stuff versus the other way around.

Oh well.  Take a little bad with the good, I guess!

Best regards,
Kevin
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by:Kevin Cross
Thanks for reading and voting by the way!
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Expert Comment

by:younghv
Kev,
Doing my due diligence before getting a smart phone and really appreciate all of the detail you provided here.

I've read Todd's EE Article also and will check out Michael's next.

Unfortunately, I am no closer to making a decision than when I started. Maybe I'll just go down to the local giant computer store and pick the one with the nicest color (only semi-joking).

"Yes" vote above.

Vic
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