The gadget geek in me couldn't resist the first ever device based on the open source Linux Google Android platform. Plus, it was about time I got rid of my BlackBerry Pearl -- it was too small and typing with SureType was getting frustrating.
As an existing T-Mobile customer, I was more than willing to drop the $179.99 on the device and the few extra bucks it would add to my monthly service plan -- a small price to pay for unlimited text and data. I opted for the $35 unlimited plan, which is about $15 more than my BlackBerry data plan, which didn't include unlimited text messaging. What I didn't expect was the final tally to hit $234.13. I knew I'd have to extend my T-Mobile contract for another two years, that's fine. What I didn't realize was that I'd get slapped with an $18 upgrade fee. Not sure why, considering it's been so long since I've bought a new device that I should've been eligible for an upgrade credit.
The kicker was the $25 I was forced to pay for a car charger. I put up a fight, but the T-Mobile employee in full G1 regalia said it was bundled in. There was no other option. I was stuck, so I lamented.
So what did my $234.13 get me?
I'm typically pretty critical when it comes to devices. The G1 is a little bulky and heavy, but it's worth the extra heft for the physical QWERTY keyboard that slides out from under the crisp touch screen as smooth as silk. It's a little odd that T-Mobile didn't also include a virtual keyboard for the touch screen, meaning whenever you type the screen has to be slid up revealing the keyboard, which also switches the view from portrait to landscape mode.
So far, the Web browser has been great, nearly as good as the Apple iPhone's. I've viewed a few sites, ran a few quick Google searches and posted some comments on some popular message boards all at lightening speeds, likely due to T-Mobile's high-speed 3G network. With the touch or slide of a finger you can scroll through Web pages and zoom in or out. Once in the browser, the menu button brings up screens to enter a URL, launch a search, create a bookmark or open a new browser window.
I activated my Gmail account and have been seamlessly sending and receiving emails for the better part of the day. Now if I can only get some of my friends to start using my Gmail I'd be all set. The G1 also works with other POP3 and IMAP email accounts, but lacks integration with Microsoft Exchange mail. So far, I can't get my antiquated Hotmail account to work, but I'm sure someone will fix that soon.
I've yet to try the instant messaging features, but the G1 supports all of the IM big boys: AIM, Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger.
It was a little tricky getting my contacts off of my SIM card, requiring several clicks and a few extra steps, but once I found the trick, that too went well.
As yet, I haven't done much with the Android Market, the application market place. I've downloaded Bank Of America's mobile banking app and ShopSavvy's barcode reader app that automatically brings up pricing and availability of a certain product with a quick scan of the barcode. Both seem to work as advertised. I was a little disappointed at the lack of applications, which appears to be around 40 for now, compared to iPhone's AppStore which has hundreds, but I'm sure third-party developers will add more in short order.
The 3.2 megapixel camera is crisp and clear, but I'm a little put off by the lack of zoom and video capabilities. I also haven't noticed if there's a flash.
As for voice, it's clear as day, sounds like a landline.
The touch display is also excellent, with three different home screens: one that just displays wallpaper, one that has a clock and selected app shortcuts and the third a Google search screen. At the bottom of the screen is an arrow that lets you slide open the full list of applications. The same arrow is also used to slide the application list closed.
When I bought the device, I was warned about the lack of battery power and told that it drains quickly, requiring two or three charges a day. So far, it's held up. Granted, I haven't been continually running Wi-Fi, GPS or Bluetooth, which can be a drain. Though I've dabbled with each of those functions and they seem to work quite well. The GPS enabled maps are exceeding my expectations, pinpointing my location in less than a second.
The YouTube video playback is solid and the audio clear, though the G1 lacks a head phone jack for private listening. The lack of the headphone jack has kept me from playing around too much with the Amazon MP3 store, though a few quick searches revealed a wide selection of popular and some not-so-popular artists.
Overall, the G1 is going to take a little getting used to, but so far I'm enjoying the experience and looking forward to more capabilities as applications get added and folks take advantage of the open source nature of the operating system.
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