Fascinate Is Enamored with Bing
To use the navigation capabilities, I had to install the Verizon Navigator app from the company's V Cast Apps collection. Navigator provides Bing local search results and integration with Facebook to let me easily post status updates if I so desired.Business users will appreciate Exchange ActiveSync e-mail, which will synchronize corporate e-mail, contacts and calendars. Heavy home-computing users might enjoy the 3G Mobile HotSpot to power up to five WiFi-enabled devices at home. I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of a button for Swype on the virtual keyboard, offering users the option to input text using gestures instead of just typing or using the voice-search button. This was particularly fun to try on Verizon's Write and Go app, which lets users input text and send it via SMS, e-mail, or social networks. The camera/camcorder is a 5-megapixel offering featuring auto-focus, LED flash, HD video recording and 720p playback capabilities-things devices such as the Motorola Droid X and HTC Evo 4G have made standard. I took crisp photos and video and uploaded them easily to Facebook, but you can also send them to Gmail, Flickr and several other sites. Call quality! It's a phone after all. Call quality was solid from Connecticut to New York City, powered by the leading wireless network. No dropped calls until I entered the Metro North tunnel system. There is a curious thing going on with the battery, however. I charged the phone fully and unplugged it a 6 p.m. Monday night. Some 16 hours later, I looked and realized that half the power was drained. I blamed the large, Super AMOLED screen, but I hadn't even used the phone to make a call; what's more, the Fascinate is really good about going dark when not in use-usually within 10 or 15 seconds after you use. So I was thinking the 1500 mHa battery was faulty. I was away from my desk and charger in New York City on Tuesday, so I had to gut it out. To my surprise, the phone lasted the rest of the day, with me making calls, checking directions and surfing Google Reader and associated Web sites. The phone never actually died, and I still had a thin strip of power left at 9:30 p.m. EDT when I arrived home. So maybe the battery meter was faulty, but the Fascinate battery itself lasted a long, long time. Overall, I found this device a pleasure to use. I just wish it was loaded with all Google apps instead of Bing because I, like 65 percent of the U.S. searchers, am more comfortable with the incumbent. If you are among the 12 percent or so of U.S. users who happen to be Bing fans, this is the Android phone you've been looking for. But if you are a committed Google user who has grown accustomed to using Google Search and Google Maps with free turn-by-turn GPS, you're in for a bit of a learning curve. You've been warned.
Navigator is just the tip of the iceberg though, for the Fascinate is bogged down with V Cast Apps for music, ringtones, videos and mobile services. This paves the way for Verizon to compete more fully with Google's own Android Market.