5 Days with the G1

January 28, 2009


For the past year I have been using a Blackberry Curve (8320) at work.  It’s been a great phone but I’ve been looking for something more.  It did everything I wanted for work and was decent for extracuricular things such as Facebookin’, Twitterin’, basic web brownsin’, etc.  I’m a big gadget hound and spend more time on gadget blogs like Gizmodo and Engadget then any one person probably should.  There’s been some buzz going on about the new Blackberry (BB) coming out on T-Mobile which is my carrier through my company who is awesome enough to provide me with my phone.  So some email stalking of our company T-Mo rep and I got wind a couple months ago that they would be getting the Curve 8900 sometime in either January or February.

I got an email from my T-Mo rep saying that the new BB was gonna be up for preorder the next week.  I tried to talk our Office Manager into hookin me up with one but hey, economy is tight and it’s no secret that I loves me some gadgets, always want the latest and greatest, and take very good care of my gadgets ;).  She did mention that we have a bunch of contracts up that usually need to be renewed and what we could do they would renew a contract and get a better rate and I could pay for the BB myself at the upgrade price and it would then by mine.  So I was all gung ho for this and just had to wait a week to put in my order.

During this time I did some more research and while I think that the Curve 8900 is the jam for Blackberries, there just wasn’t enough about it for me to justify paying out of my own pocket it for it.  $200 for a slightly better screen, camera, and processor didn’t make a whole lot of sense.  The biggest problem… still no 3G?!?!  WTF?!  This I found out by going to T-Mo’s website and filtering my search by 3G phones.  Honestly… why do they have all these candy bar and flip phones with a standard 10 button keypad with 3G data?  It makes no sense.  “Hey!  You can send text messages really fuckin’ fast!”  So the one smart phone listed was the G1 which is a T-Mo branded HTC phone.  I loves me some HTC, I like the idea of Android, and it’s got 3G.

A coworker of mine had recently picked up a G1 and she liked it a lot.  The main thing that I needed out of it was to make sure it could connect to our Exchange server at work.  I needed to get my email most importantly, my calendar, and my contacts all synced up.  She told me about some software she had downloaded that did it all and that was good enough for me.  I spoke to our CFO about the purchase, got it approved and had our Office Manager put in the order.  A couple days later my G1 arrived.

Out the box it’s a really slick gadget.  The plastic backing has this sorta rubberized feel to it, slightly grippy.  Had to make a quick call to T-Mo to get the 3G enabled and put on a proper data plan for it.  Took about a half hour for it to kick in which was slightly agonizing as the phone is useless until you link it up with a gmail acount and without the data plan active, you can’t get linking… this kinda annoyed me.  Once the data kicked in, it was good to go.

So here I am, fancy new phone, what do you do?  Go to the Android market and start downloading a ton of free apps!  First thing I got was this “hypnotic spiral” app.  Just makes a spiral but it was a simple test to see what the process was like for downloading and installing an app… and it’s simple.  Tap the app to see a description, tap install.  The download begins in the background and once it is done, it installs.  The whole process took all of 15 seconds… ahhhhhh 3G!

This brings me to what is quite possibly the best part about this phone.  It’s already got a ton of great things going for it… open source, touch screen, has a keyboard, and best of all… it’s not an Apple product ;).  So what’s the best part?  The notification bar at the top of the screen.  Just this thin strip of white that shows you the time, battery level, and signal strength.  What makes it awesome is that anything the phone wants to tell you, new text message, email, app downloaded and installed, appointment… it shows up here as a little icon.  The icons are relevant to what is trying to get your attention.  From there, you just flick downward from the top of the screen and a menu drops down showing you all of the notices.  Some you can read outright from here, others you just tap it and it takes you right to what you want to know.

The Android Market is pretty pimp.  There are so many great apps on there, I’ve found several that are quite worthwhile, and there are always new ones popping up.  Now for the meat and taters of the phone, and my main use for it… how does it hold up for work?

I originally downloaded a trial of an app called Touchdown.  The app was pretty simple to setup aside from some idiot mistakes I made like forgetting that my password was case sensitive.  The app heralded itself as being the end all be all Exchange app for the G1, well, yes and no.  It does get everything to the phone that it promises… email, contacts, and calendar.  So let’s break it down.

E-Mail:  The only push mail you’re gonna get on the G1 is gmail right now.  You can set Touchdown to pull every 5 minutes or refresh manually when you are expecting something.  The only problem I had with the email was that while the app said there were no limitations what so ever in the trial, I couldn’t change the damn signature that would spam every message I sent about the software.

Contacts:  This ended up being a big let down for me.  Yes, it did bring my contacts over, but then I got a text message and it didn’t attach a name to the #.  Huh?  Yeah, that’s what I said.  Turns out that it pulls all the contacts into an address book that is only accessible by Touchdown itself… fuckin’ lame!

Calendar:  No real complaints here.  Calendar comes over, goes back, all good.

The biggest issue I had really was that the email only synced the inbox, and the contacts.  It was highly annoying to have to open the app, then select email, or contacts, or whatever to get to what I wanted.  So I decided to seek alternate means of doing these things.

E-Mail:  I used the included E-Mail client that came on the phone.  Setup as an IMAP account, a little trial and error, and it’s working beautifully.  Sure it’s still only coming in every 5 minutes, but it’s easier to get to, and I have access to all of my email.  Oh yeah, and no lame ass spam signature.

Contacts:  There is an app to sync Exchange contacts.  I just need to run it when I want to update.  This is fine by me as I don’t change my contacts very often.

Calendar:  I also don’t to a whole lot of changes to my calendar, maybe a couple times a week.  Since all of the gmail stuff (email, contacts, calendar) auto sync, I found a Google app that will sync my Exchange calendar with my gmail calendar which in turn, then pushes it out to my phone.  Sure I need to have Outlook running in conjunction with the google app, and that’s fine, any change I make to my calendar are gonna be while that’s all running anyway.

So for now, the work stuff is a touch bit complicated compared to a BB, but it works just fine and I’m happy with it for now.  The overal use of the phone is very simple, very intuitive, and yet, surprisingly deep.  Almost anything I wanna do from Facebook to Twitter to Flickr is available on the Android Market.  Lots of awesomeness in there.  The biggest issue with the phone though is battery life.  Literally I’ve gotten maybe 24 hours out of a full charge if I’m lucky.  Sure it’s new to me so I’m playing with it a lot but this is a common complaint from everyone.  It’s hoped that when the next OS update comes out this will get fixed, so we’ll see.

So would I recommend this to anyone?  Sure, it’s an awesome phonea nd an awesome platform.  If you are tempted by the iphone but don’t want to give up a real keyboard… this is the way to go.  For the most part the web browsing is like a real browser, as real as the iphone anyway.  My buddy Coop has been asking for my review on this and honestly, I think you would love this phone Coop.  I’ll let you get some good face time in with it when you come visit in a couple weeks.


One comment

  1. It just looks so unwieldy. I’ll play with it when I bounce into town next week.

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