Review: Verizon Droid X

I had a wonderful opportunity to play with a Verizon Droid X for a week, to prepare a review as well as demo the unit at our monthly meeting.  I am currently an HTC EVO owner, so at times, I am making comparison to that device, which I think is important, because from a form-factor standpoint, they are very similar (slab devices with large screens).
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I shot video for the review as well, and broke it down into five manageable chunks (the entire thing ended up being 28 minutes!).  Read (and view) on, after the break! 

The Hardware

As far as the overall feel of the device, at first it was a bit strange, but that was largely due to being used to the shape of the EVO.  The X is definitely more “square” feeling, and the bottom surface is a bit slippery feeling.  When handing the device to people to check it out, they made mention of two things:  it feels nice & light despite it’s size, and the combination of squareness and slippery feel to the bottom made people feel they might drop the device!  BUT, the majority of people would put some sort of case on this or any other smartphone, so that is easily remedied.  I will add that as the week wore on, the device grew more comfortable in my hand.  It certainly is thin!
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The buttons are literal hardware buttons, as compared to smooth capacitive buttons on the EVO.  Again, this was something that took getting used to, but I can see the pros and cons of either button style. Mistaken presses can easily be made with capacitive buttons, whereas that doesn’t happen with physical buttons…
Well, most of the time!  Since the buttons are laid out differently on the Droid X and the EVO, I ended up hitting Menu when I meant Home and Home when I meant Menu!  And I still made mistakes on my own EVO after returning the X!
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The micro USB & HDMI slots are on the side of the device   If a cable is plugged info either of those jacks, holding the device is encumbered. I guess Moto did that for car mount purposes…
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The Droid X has a 1500 mAh battery, and comes with a 16GB Micro SD card, which is a nice touch.  To access the card, you need to remove the battery. Getting the battery door off the first time was a challenge (it was tight), but after that, it comes off without an issue.  The door is made of metal – sturdy, just how Moto makes things!
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One curious finding:  there isn’t a charging indicator.  The charging status shows up on the lock screen, but otherwise, there is no indication (as far as a light) that the device is charging or fully charged.  Not a deal-breaker, but still baffling as to why no charging LED!
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The User Interface, Apps & Settings

The Droid X has MotoBlur over top of Android (the name of which I discovered after shooting the video!). It’s Motorola’s version of HTC Sense, so to speak.  And it is snappy. Very snappy.  I notice a quicker response when swiping between home screens as compared to my EVO.  You can see that (as well as a look at the Moto widgets) demonstrated in the video below.
 

Adjusting a widget

Here are some highlights of some of the apps and settings:

  • The FM Radio works much better than the one on the EVO.  I was able to use the auto-scan feature and find nine Louisville radio stations on the dial (and some more manually, but auto is a good test for the radio).  For comparison, in the exact same location, with the same headphones, I auto-scanned on my EVO and found a whopping three of those stations, and if I tried to manually dial in some of those other six, they were VERY weak and scratchy, no matter how I held the device or the headphones.  It is obvious that Motorola used a better FM radio in there!  But, I personally would rarely use the app – radio is so – 20th century!  It’s streaming music for me!  🙂
  • Text messaging has the “speech bubble” format similar to the iPhone.  That is a Moto touch – you don’t see that speech bubble style on the EVO.  I kind of like it!
  • The default keyboard is Multi-touch, and it works nicely, but the Droid X comes with Swype as well.  Give me Swype or ShapeWriter any day, and I’ll beat someone with a hardware keyboard!  The large screen of the X makes Swype especially nice to operate.
  • There is a nice Voice Command app on the X, and strangely enough, the voice sounds just like the voice on Microsoft Voice Command on Windows Mobile devices!  Hmmmm!  But, with services such as Bing showing up on iPhones (and soon, Android devices), it would not come as a surprise to find that the Voice Command app on the X indeed is from Microsoft!
  • Media Share – This cool feature helps you share files between your phone and other devices. You can play a video from your phone on your TV, copy a picture from one phone to another, & transfer music onto your phone.   It makes use of a service called DLNA.
  • There is a nice Caller ID readout option in the Call Settings.  Again, that is something found in Microsoft Voice Command, so I wonder…!
  • The Droid X has Smart Sensor settings. You can double-tap to silence the phone, and you can put the phone face down during an alert to switch to vibrate.  It would be nice if you had the option for silent instead of vibrate! Vibrate in a meeting is just about as annoying as a ring!
  • The device comes with Backup Assistant. While not a full backup app, it allows you to safeguard the names, phone numbers and email addresses in your address book.
  • There is a battery manager, including profile options. You can choose from Performance mode, Smart mode and Battery Saver mode. This looks like a very cool feature, especially since these devices are such battery hogs!
  • There is a very basic File Manager on the X.  Still, I would recommend something from the Market such as Astro, which is much more robust.

 


 


  

The Camera

The camera is a strong point for the Droid.  Motorola did an outstanding job with it.  The camera is stunning, especially the camcorder.  It can record in 720p resolution at 30 frames per second.  Mind you, that makes for some enormous files!  The X also comes with basic video editing capabilities (resize, trim, title, etc).  Moto also added a nice touch, making the Volume buttons available for zooming the camera.  There is also a dedicated camera button on the side of the X. See more detail in the video below.
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It’s disappointing that the Droid X has no front-facing camera. With the growing popularity of Skype, Fring and iPhone’s FaceTime, the lack of front-facing camera is definitely noticed. Still, Fring works nicely – you just use the rear camera.  I demonstrate Fring in the last video, below.


Conclusion

The Droid X is an amazing device, and one I would highly recommend to someone who is either on Verizon or thinking of switching to Verizon. 
 

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