Archive for December, 2008

Migrating to the G1 phone?

So…today I picked up a brand-new G1 phone from T-Mobile.  I’ve been using my T-Mobile Dash for over 2 years now, and it’s starting to feel pretty long in the tooth.  Why get the G1?  Well… T-Mobile is pretty well-known for having a poor selection of the “spiffy” phones, and they’re usually late to the game for adopting new technology.  (3G network, anyone?)  Having said that, the G1 phone is a bit of an anomaly for T-Mobile: first to market with something exciting, and so it seemed to be the “phone to get” when looking at their available phones.  Time will tell if that was “good thinking” on my part or not…

Before I talk about the G1 too much, I should give a bit of a background here.  I’ve been using this T-Mobile Dash since November 2006.  Quite honestly, it’s been a very good phone.  Perhaps the best I’ve ever owned.  At one point, I had gone over 90 days without ever restarting, rebooting, or turning off the phone.  That’s amazing!  The Dash initially shipped with the (fairly painful) Windows Mobile 5.0 OS.  Before too long, T-Mobile and HTC (the phone manufacturer) offered a free/supported upgrade to WinMo 6.0.  The offer of a free OS upgrade for your mobile phone was pretty amazing at the time.  6.0 was better in most regards.  This year, a “gray” release of WinMo 6.1 became available, and it was a very worthy upgrade for the Dash.  Still, an OS refresh can only do so much for an aging phone.

I’m actually not enormously excited about migrating to the G1 phone.  Why?  Well, primarily because I’m very aware of some functionality that I’ll be losing.  For starters, the G1 does *not* yet support Exchange sync capability, which is something I’ve been using for 2 years now.  Also, there are some seemingly small features that it lacks, and I’m always amazed that new, state-of-the-art phones don’t have these. 

First, my Dash (WinMo OS) has a ring profile called “Automatic”.  In this mode, the phone would automatically set your phone to “silent” when you were in a meeting.  It gathered this information, of course, from your phone calendar, which was synced with my work calendar.  When the meeting was done, the ringer went back to “normal” ring mode.  Have you ever set your phone to “vibrate” and then missed a call because you forgot to put it back?  I used to do that ALL the time, but not since having this feature.  Honestly, every phone with a calendar should have this feature.  It’s a no-brainer to me, but it appears that only Windows Mobile has figured it out.

Secondly, my default ring “style” has for years been vibrate first, then ring.  Assuming that my phone is on my person (or near to me), this gives me about a 90% success rate of grabbing my phone and answering it before anyone has to hear the ring tone.  I guarantee that my co-workers are more than happy to not have to hear yet another phone ringing in the office.  How many phones offer the vibrate first, then ring option?  Not many, and apparently *NOT* the G1.  Aggravating.

Thirdly, the Dash features an in-your-face style keyboard, whereas the G1 is a fold-out style.  Any typing on the G1 will require flipping the screen aside to access the keyboard, since it does *not* (currently) have any sort of a virtual keyboard.  That, of course, allows for a much bigger screen, which is nice, but at the cost of less-accessible typing, in some regards.  Not a deal killer, by any stretch, but notable.

Lastly, I’m aware of some other features that I’ll be losing – at least for now.  “Phone tethering”, which allows me to use my phone as a modem for a laptop, is not available on the G1 right now, as I understand it.  Full “Office files” support is also not available (or just not “built-in”, perhaps), which means that easily opening/editing Word and Excel files is not an option.  Hmph.  The list goes on, I’m sure.

Of course, it would be very unfair to note the negatives and none of the positives.  The G1 is a nice phone with many desirable features, namely… a nice big keyboard, large touchscreen, very configurable “desktop”, 3G network access (nice!), an open OS platform, GPS built-in, and a fun, if a bit “unproven” user interface.  It’s certainly more “fun” to use than WinMo so far, for what that’s worth 🙂

I’m not wanting to give a full review on the G1 at this point.  I’ve only had it for a few hours, you know!  I can, however, give some initial thoughts both positive and negative…

+ Screen is very nice
+ Keyboard is (so far) pretty easy to use, and even has two shift keys!
+ “App Market” is nice, and there are some good, free applications
+ Has multiple “desktops” that are all configurable and fun to scroll with
+ Holding a desktop icon allows you to move it or delete it.  Cool!
+ Syncs well with my Google Calendar and Contacts
+ Played very well with my Yahoo! Mail
+ Pull-down notification menu is nice
+ 3G network is nice n’ fast!
+ Built-in browser is really quite good
+ Camera is really good

– Battery life is pretty poor, it seems.  Maybe I’ll get a day and a half?!
– Heftier and larger than what I’m used to
– Can’t find any “speed dial” settings like I’m used to
– No “auto silent” feature, though the app Ring Control might help with this
– Keyboard seems slightly angled when opened.  Strange.
– Phone is kinda ugly 🙂
– Bottom of phone is angled up for no apparent reason

So… that’s all for now.  I need to man-handle this phone for a week or two to *really* get the low-down on it.  I know that my brother is interested in one as well, so I’m going to try and put it thru its paces.

More on the G1 soon!



It has been reported over at GotZune that President-elect Barack Obama may have, in fact, been using a Zune on a recent trip to the gym.  Newsworthy?  Hardly, but it does show that the Zune is making more in-roads into the mainstream, be it ever so slowly. 

With the 1st rev Zune (30) players – and more importantly, the 1st rev Zune software – I was somewhat reluctant to recommend the Zune to any “tech-challenged souls” in my sphere of influence.  Quite honestly, it worked fine for me, but I could see where others might be flustered or confused.  Fast forward to the present, I have *no reservations* whatsoever about recommending the Zune devices or the software.  Even the reviewers are starting to give the Zune the upper-hand in head-to-head comparisons to the iPod, though I disagree wholeheartedly on their “compatibility” round.  WMA, anyone?  The iPod Touch is certainly in a different class altogether.

Anyhow, the Obama/Zune story is humorous at best.  Enjoy! 🙂