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New York Times Reviews G1

I should receive my first new mobile phone since 2004 on October 22. I don’t really need a new phone: the old Sidekick 2 is built like a tank and shows no sign of giving up the ghost any time soon. But I went and pre-ordered a G1 for three reasons:
1) I have a friend on Google’s Android team.
2) To annoy the iPhone weenies.
3) My employer made its targets, so I spend a little of my bonus check.

I haven’t actually used one yet, so I was pleased to catch a review in the New York Times. Some of what I enjoyed:

One crucial improvement over the iPhone: a Menu button. It summons a panel of big buttons for functions related to what you’re doing. It’s the equivalent of right-clicking a computer mouse.

“Right mouse button!” HA!

Where Android really falls down is in the iPod department. There’s no companion program like iTunes to sync your photos, music and videos to the phone; you’re expected to drag these items to the phone manually after connecting via USB cable to your Mac or PC. More time-consuming fussiness.

This is a win for me: I hate iTunes. Dragging and dropping files is just the ticket, in my book. I’ve been dealing with that interface metaphor for fifteen years and its more comfortable than dealing with the quirks of some new software package. (Back when I had lots of issues with iTunes doing stuff like copying my library over twice.) That, and I run Linux desktops.

Some of the goodies in Android will reward the iPhone holdouts: voice dialing, picture messaging, built-in audio recording and the ability to turn any song into a ring tone are all included — no charge.

Voice dialing? That should be nice. And audio recording might be fun, too. Too bad the camera is supposedly crap, and no video. But that’s why I have my Canon.

The big news is the physical keyboard. It’s not pure joy, though. The keys don’t click down much. Worse, you have to keep turning the phone 90 degrees from its customary vertical orientation every time you need to enter text. That gets old fast. And it’s bizarre that, even though the phone contains a tilt sensor like the iPhone’s, it’s not hooked up to the screen. Turning the phone 90 degrees to get a wider look at a photo or Web page doesn’t rotate the image. You have to do that manually, using a menu or by popping open the keyboard, which makes no sense.

The keyboard is my biggest concern. I think the Sidekick 2 keyboard is nearly ideal and it is a big reason I shun the iPhone. Software bugs (sounds like the e-mail client is a mess) can be addressed by future patches or possibly third-party applications. I like to think rotation can be sorted out down the road.

Overall, it sounds like the G1 will be the dowdier, more adaptable PC to the flashy smugness that is the iPhone. And, I have to admit, while I love the turtleneck sweater I bought in France, I am a PC guy. (I think that’s the point of the new Microsoft ads: Bill Gates is as big a schmuck as Jerry Seinfeld or any one else.)

Lastly, this is just sad:

Finally, there’s no headphone jack. (Hello?!) If you want to use headphones, you have to buy and carry a special adapter that connects to the USB jack.

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Categories: About Me, Featured, Linux, News and Reaction, Technical, Technology, Testimonials