NEWS ANALYSIS: The Motorola Droid and the HTC Droid Eris present a lot for the typical smartphone user to like, including crisp call quality and excellent battery life. A few kinks aside, the Google Android operating system seems versatile and able to handle most minute-to-minute needs in the productivity, communication and entertainment qualities. Despite a few form-factor issues that could make the smartphones off-putting to some users, both Droids come closest to being the long-predicted "iPhone killer."
There's an interesting bit of legalese on the side of the box containing the
Motorola Droid from Verizon Wireless: "DROID is a trademark of Lucasfilm
Ltd. and its related companies."
In the "Star Wars" movies, droids were bumbling robots such as R2D2
, inserted into the narrative
largely as comic relief. But there's nothing particularly cute about the form factor
of the Motorola Droid: From its weighty, blocky form factor to the way it
rumbles "DROID" when you first turn the device on, it seems as if Motorola's
engineers were determined from the drawing board to create the smartphone
equivalent of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The other high-profile Google Android phone, the HTC
Droid Eris, takes a different approach. Unlike the Motorola Droid, which slides
apart to reveal a physical QWERTY keyboard, the Droid Eris is a single-piece
touch-screen device reminiscent of the iPhone. At 4.23 ounces (and no physical
keyboard), it is substantially lighter and sleeker than the Motorola Droid,
which feels like a miniature brick in your pocket.
here for more on the HTC Droid Eris.
However, the HTC Droid Eris comes with a
trackball for navigation, which I feel was a substantial mistake; Research In
Motion has been eliminating trackballs in favor of trackpads for a reason.
Besides clogging with grime after weeks or months of use, the trackball made
certain functions of the HTC Droid Eris-such
as snapping photos-into mildly annoying chores.
Call and Data Quality
Many a reader has complained to me that they love everything about the
iPhone, except for the fact that it's tethered to AT&T. (For its own part,
AT&T has reacted strongly against claims that it has a substandard network,
threatening to sue Verizon for the latter's "There's a Map for That"
advertisements and even enlisting
"Old School" actor Luke Wilson to tick through AT&T's supposed
benefits in a 30-second spot.
Neither Droid, running on Verizon's network, suffered dropped calls. To the
contrary, call quality on both the Motorola Droid and the HTC
Droid Eris was absolutely crystal clear for both local and long-distance calls.
The Motorola Droid feels a little bulky when held against the ear, and the HTC
Droid Eris emits a somewhat tinny ring tone; but on the list of potential
complaints that one could have with their smartphone, each of those barely rank
During the past few days, Droid-related
have filled with people complaining that the Motorola Droid
offers no support for voice dialing with their Bluetooth. This is particularly
an issue for road warriors who need hands-free dialing while driving; for
others, it may not necessarily be a deal killer. Some community members have
been told that Motorola is working on a fix, but I'm wondering whether some
enterprising third-party developer may come up with a patch mobile application
for the Android Marketplace.
Voice dialing without Bluetooth, however, is surprisingly easy through the
one-touch "Voice Dial" widget. Both Droids seemed well-attuned to
people's voices, making calls with no errors.
here for more information on the Motorola Droid.
Both the Motorola Droid and the HTC Droid
Eris cruised the Web at high speeds. Voice-activated search seemed very
accurate for a single search term ("Beatles") but had more trouble
with other terms ("eWEEK" repeatedly delivered back a search-results
page for "a week," for example).