unixronin: Galen the technomage, from Babylon 5: Crusade (Default)

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unixronin: A somewhat Borg-ish high-tech avatar (Techno/geekdom)
Saturday, July 16th, 2011 03:32 pm

I've been playing more with the voice-command navigation, and it's very good.  It got "Parker's Maple Barn, New Hampshire" on the first try, and nailed it.  Likewise "Best Buy Nashua New Hampshire" and "Best Buy Concord New Hampshire".  (I dropped off four obsolete computers and two monitors for recycling today.  Three items per household per day means three items per STORE per household per day, right....?  Since they don't record any information about who's dropping them off...)

The GPS receiver is a power-hungry little sucker, though.  I bought a USB car charger that fits flush into the 12V socket and effectively turns it into two USB charging ports — one of these, which claims to be able to deliver 1A per port — and it was not able to significantly charge the battery between Nashua and Concord with the GPS enabled. After leaving Concord, though, when I turned the GPS off, it managed to charge the battery from 10% to 70% by the time I got home.  This is telling me that the GPS receiver and the Google navigation app together are consuming pretty much the entire output of the charger.  (However, the phone didn't actually die between Nashua and Concord, which suggests that if it starts out charged, the charger will be able to keep it charged with GPS navigation running.  I totally need a more compact cable, though.  This one looks like just the thing.)

I have used, so far, 0.025GB of data in the course of probably three to four hours of total GPS navigation use.

unixronin: A somewhat Borg-ish high-tech avatar (Techno/geekdom)
Friday, July 15th, 2011 03:11 pm

I've had it four full days now, and I have to say, it's pretty good. I'm not convinced yet it'll make as good a phone, in terms of voice clarity, as the RAZR2, because the open RAZR is ... well ... more phone-shaped.  I suspect the Droid, like most of not all modern smartphones, will be of limited use as an actual phone without a headset.

Well, that's why I had the foresight to buy a headset with it. An inexpensive, corded one, for now; I really don't use a cell phone very often.  Seriously, we're talking in the region of six hundred minutes or less per year here.  I expect I'll be using the headset whenever possible, and perhaps may eventually get a better headset than the minimalist wired earbuds-plus-inline-mic one I bought to start with.

The screen is nice; large, bright and sharp.  The physical keyboard is pretty good, considerably better than the keyboard on the HTC Merge, previously the holder of the Best Keyboard On A Phone title.  You can actually realistically type on it, and with a pretty low error rate.  (No "damn you, autocorrect".)  Battery life so far seems promising; it looks like I should be able to expect 2+ days from the stock 1450mAh battery, in normal use, and probably about three days from the [optional] 1930mAh extended battery.  Using it for navigation is harder on the battery; the Google navigation works great, but the GPS receiver is power-hungry. Of course, if using it for navigation, one can use the optional windshield mount and plug it into a 12V USB charger, which you'd probably want to do anyway because if using it for navigation without a human navigator/co-driver you'd (a) need it mounted, and (b) need to turn off screen timeout.  I did have to hard-powercycle the phone (power off, battery out for ten seconds) to get the GPS receiver online for the first time.

As for charging, when connected via USB, Gentoo Linux sees it without any hesitation as a 12GB USB-storage device (with about 1.75GB free) and it happily charges, unlike the Motorola RAZR2 it's replacing (which neither mounts as storage nor charges from a Linux box).  There are actually three charging options — direct USB connection, included wall-socket USB charger, or an optional inductive charging pad and back cover.  The inductive charging back will accommodate the extended battery.

The Droid3 comes with the usual Verizon V-cast applications and a bunch of preinstalled apps, many of which I don't give a crap about (like for instance some Mobile NFL thing). Unfortunately few of them are uninstallable.  I uninstalled the WGA golf game immediately (puh-leeze!), and would have ditched the Mobile NFL app as well if I could (I mean, me?  NFL?  Seriously?), but the only other preinstalled apps that appear to be uninstallable are the Youtube app and 'Nova', which has nothing to do with the PBS documentary series but instead appears to be a trial version of a Halo-alike FPS game.  (I uninstalled it too.  I have no desire to try to play anything remotely FPS-ish on a screen this tiny, particularly through a phone touchscreen interface.)  So far, I've installed a GasBuddy app and ColorNote, a notepad app with a reasonably well thought-out checklist feature.

The built-in cameras?  Not bad.  Here's a sample from the main (back) camera (quarter scale, click it for full size):

And here's the front camera, intended for videoconferencing, full size:

(Trust me, it's not the camera's fault.)

Things I'd change?  Well, I wish the corporate sync didn't force a screenlock password on me.  I prefer to choose for myself when I lock it, thank you.  And it'd be nice if there was a display timeout choice between two and ten minutes.  A five-minute option would be good.  Getting the back cover off is a bit of a pain in the ass, but you shouldn't need to do that often.

Oh, hey, I know what I forgot to talk about:  The voice recognition.  Specifically, voice-recognition navigation mode, which was the first thing I tried voice command on.  Untrained, it got "Nashua, New Hampshire" on the first try.  Later, we tried "Go home".  It got that in one try as well, but didn't know what to do with it.  Our street address, it fluffed on the first attempt, but got it perfectly when repeated slightly slower. No doubt it will do even better once I actually go through and train it.