Tethering, Networking, Sound

By Andrew Garcia  |  Posted 2010-06-29 Print this article Print


The Droid X offers plenty of processing power, storage and memory, delivering a TI OMAP 1GHz processor with 512MB memory, along with 8GB of on-board storage plus 16GB more storage via the included MicroSD card. The MicroSD slot supports cards of up to 32GB. Despite the powerful underpinnings, I occasionally found the device sluggish when opening new applications or accessing settings screens, with the device sometimes lagging several seconds before completing an action.

Available for Verizon's network, the Droid X supports the 800/1900 bands for EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized) Rev. A. The Droid X also features an 802.11n WiFi radio, albeit one that only supports the 2.4GHz band. As this was the first smartphone I've gotten my hands on that used 802.11n, I was excited to discover what benefits the faster connection could confer, but instead I quickly found the Droid X showed a propensity to fall off some WiFi networks altogether. When testing using Ruckus Wireless access points (either 802.11n or 802.11g models), the Droid X would occasionally stop transmitting within minutes (even though the device appeared to still be connected), thereby failing to migrate the connection to Verizon's network. I could not reproduce this behavior when using Aruba Network's access points.

Verizon supports WiFi tethering on the Droid X, allowing users to share the Verizon WAN connection with up to five additional devices via WiFi. Adding WiFi tethering to Verizon's plans costs an extra $20 a month, with a 2GB bandwidth cap. Tethering overages cost 5 cents per megabyte.  

Tethering mostly worked during testing, albeit again with inconsistent compatibility. I successfully tethered a Lenovo ThinkPad T400 running Windows XP SP3, a MacBook Pro running "Snow Leopard" and a handful of different smartphones. However, I was not able to tether either of two SIM (Subscriber Identity Module)-less iPhone 3GS units running iOS 4-getting an "Unable to Join" message on the iPhones. Meanwhile, I was able to tether iPhone 3G units running both versions 3.1.3 and 4.0. To attach either of the iPhone 3GS units, I needed to disable wireless security altogether on the Droid X.

Unlike the original Droid, the Droid X ships with Motorola's Motoblur social data and update aggregation service, albeit an iteration that is highly toned down from that which came with the Motorola Cliq or the Devour. With Droid X, Motorola consigned the Motoblur update widgets to secondary home screens to the left or right, with separate pages for updates for user-specified contacts, new calendar and e-mail entries, and social networking updates. On other home screens, I found preconfigured widgets that pull in weather or news as well as a screen for media playback.

The Droid X and Motoblur together support multiple Exchange mailboxes for e-mail, contact and calendar integration. The Exchange integration also supports a limited number of policies, allowing me to centrally require passwords and enforce password complexity on the Droid X via my Exchange 2007 (it also supports Exchange 2003) infrastructure. I also found that through Exchange I was able to successfully complete a remote wipe action on the device.

The sound quality on the Droid X was surprisingly good through the earpiece, not as muffled as has been the case with many competing devices over the last few years. On the other hand, the speakerphone sounds very tinny under normal conditions. Located on the back of the device near the bottom, the speakerphone could also be quite muffled when the device was lying flat on a soft surface like a stack of papers.

The Droid X supports Bluetooth 2.1, with EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) and A2DP, the latter adding stereo capability. I successfully paired the Droid X with a Plantronics Voyager Pro, finding that the headset's call control button successfully operates with the VAD (voice-activated dialing) on the Droid X. I also found the stereo capabilities worked as expected when paired with a Motorola Motorokr S9, although the call control button on that headset would only redial the last number called, not activate VAD.

The Droid X comes with a 1540 mAh battery, which Motorola rates for 8 hours of usage or 220 hours of standby time.

Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for eWEEK.com, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at agarcia@eweek.com.

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