The truth about the T-Mobile G1 Android powered phone.

In a word (or two)…it rocks!

Recently I wrote about the initial unboxing of the twin G1’s my wife and I purchased.  I have not had it for a little over a week and a half so I thought it was time to share some of my thoughts on the experience so far.

The User Interface

image The UI is fairly intuitive.  As I stated in my previous post, my wife never had to open the Getting Started book.  That was fabulous.  The sliding and scrolling actions seem very smooth and natural.  I really like that.

I like having a home screen that is easily customizable.  Moving icons and widgets around is as easy as a tap ‘n hold.  Additional feedback is given via a brief vibration when the item is ready to move.

The notification system is great.  Icons appearing in the top that expand with a quick drag to see the details is a much better system than I was use to with Windows Mobile.

Setup

Getting my Gmail settings going was easy.  Now I can get to my mail or calendar with 1 icon tap, and the interface for Gmail is based on the web version complete with threads and labels.  Very nice!

Contacts also come from Gmail.  This was a bit of a struggle at first.  Most of my Gmail contacts were still in the suggested contacts state which meant I had some work to do in order to get them into my phone properly.  In addition, most did not have phone numbers associated with them and I am afraid I am a ways off from making that happen.  I am a little gun-shy about importing them from my SIM card as I feel this might create a bunch of duplicate entries that I would have to go back to correct, but I will admit I have not tried it yet.

Operation

image For the most part things are very easy to do.  Making calls, sending text, etc.  The one thing I have noticed that is a bit of a drawback comes when you want to change your settings.  Most items are accessed through the settings menu, so changing your ringer profile, toggling WiFi or Bluetooth, etc…  Fortunately, there are some very nice, free apps that put these items into one easy place.  It would have been nice out of the box, but the solution wasn’t difficult.

The battery life is ok considering everything it does and the amount of use I’ve been putting it through.  Watching videos, using the GPS with Google Maps in street view (and compass mode!), browsing the web via WiFi.  These things tend to drain the battery so you can’t expect too much.  I’m charging it about once a day with a 24 hour usage bringing me between 25% and 60% of remaining life.  Not terrible by any means.

YouTube.  Wow, this is very cool!  I have watched many videos, used search and went into the popular categories.  Over WiFi the quality is great, and even using the EDGE network (we get 3G in March) the video performance is more than fair.  I did not have high hopes for the EDGE scenario; however it looks like they scale the quality down to a level that allows the stream to work with the slower network, yet it is still quite viewable.

The Android Market

image There are a lot of cool applications, and many more that are not so cool, available in the market.  I’ve personally sampled close to a hundred already and I’ve narrowed my current install set to around 20-25 that I use.  The installer and uninstaller seems to work well.  I haven’t run into any problems yet, although I’ve heard that some people have had issues.

Some of the applications fill a definite hole in the out-of-the-box UI, but as stated earlier, they are fairly easy to find and install.  Others are nice add-ons that can help in certain situations, and still more are great time wasters 😀

Here is a list of some of my favorites:

  • aTrackDog – This helps you stay apprised of updates to your other installed applications.  – Must have!
  • Power Manager – Has automated, customizable profiles for different power situations.  I like the way it turns off my Wi-Fi if my battery level drops below 30%.
  • aSettings – This app puts most of the toggles you need (WiFi, Bluetooth, Ringer profile, GPS…) on 1 screen.  I set up a home screen shortcut to it.
  • Scoreboard – Sport score update application written by the Google folks.  Does a very nice job.
  • ConnectBot – A little ssh client used to connect to linux boxes.
  • PhoneFlix – Allows management of your Netflix queue from your phone.
  • Ringdroid – A nice application for creating ring tones from your MP3 files.  It lets you choose the portion of the song to save out as a ringtone file.
  • The Schwartz Unleashed – A total time-waster, light-saber application, but very cool!
  • The Weather Channel – Exactly what it sounds like, get current conditions and forecasts.  Even does videos.
  • Twidoid – For all your Twitter needs.
  • QuickPedia – Mobile interface for Wikipedia.  It includes nice formatting of the articles.
  • wpToGo – Nice blogger client if you happen to have a WordPress blog.

Summary

I am very happy with the phone.  My wife seems to really like it as well.  So far things have gone smooth and the decision seems to be a good one.  My overall opinion is that it is a good phone and if you are in the market for something like this, I would recommend it.

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