Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Droid 2 Review

It's been almost a month since I got my shiny new Droid 2 at the Verizon store so I think I'm qualified to offer a pretty comprehensive review of the phone.

Obviously this phone has some serious horse power when compared to my old Droid Eris and it's nice to have such a snappy UI and the ability to play any 3D game I wish.

When I first got my Droid Eris I felt I made a sacrifice over the Motu Droid because the Eris didn't have a hardware keyboard. As I got used to the touch type on the Eris I actually came to like some features that you don't get with a hardware keyboard, namely when typing into certain fields you get an appropriate keyboard layout, e.g. number field gives you a number pad ect.. So, it took some getting used to with the hardware keyboard. The hardware keyboard has some advantages too, such as, you get a tactile feel for the keyboard, you save screen real estate and overall you have a more complete keyboard for using when typing text. I think overall I'm happier with the hardware keyboard and closing it to bring up the software keyboard when I need to. Options are always nice.

Another thing I felt I got shorted on with the Eris over the Motu Droid was the LED flash on the camera. Overall the camera on both phones where decent at snapping pictures but having the flash is nice in darker environments even though it does introduce a bit more grain in the pictures than I care for. Another fantastic feature is using the flash as an LED flashlight. For a musician and general hacker it's like aving a flashlight with you wherever you go.

I will have to say that HTC's Sense UI is a bit better than Motu's Blur. Motorola loads substantially more crapware that makes doing certain things on the phone a bigger PITA. For one if you double tap on the home button it brings up a horrible voice command program that take forever to load and works about 1% as good as Google's Voice Search. That being said I really miss the UI that comes with Cyanogen Mod and can't wait to get it on the Droid 2. If carriers had even a bit of brains rattling around in their head they would hire Cyanogen to do their UI.

I rooted the phone in the first 24 hours I had the phone and would have done it the night I got it but I didn't have the time to sit down and follow the instructions. It was fairly straight-forward for someone reasonable comfortable with the command line but not the one click experience I had for the Eris. Rooting your phone is now considered fair use under the DMCA and I consider it a must for any android user.

I find certain things a little buggy on the phone. I experience crashes now and then and some time I get hangs. I think a good ROM will solve all of this but for the average person it would be considered a huge annoyance to watch your phone reboot while using the navigation to get somewhere. I had similar issues with my Eris till I got a custom ROM on it. Also, some times Android will crash and restart and upon reloading the desktop the accelerometer will not rotate the screen or pull up the on-screen keyboard. The only fix I've found for this issue is pulling the battery and restarting, which is a huge PITA.

Overall I think this is a pretty fantastic bit of hardware with a lackluster Android implementation that I can't wait to correct with a good ROM. I'll report back after I make it so.
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