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A Wow! With a Few Bugs
on June 6, 2010
To give you the perspective that I'm coming from, I'm not a dedicated techie. I upgraded to the EVO from a Treo Centro (sorry Palm OS!). Though I know what a Snapdragon processor is, my review won't be on that level of expertise. I'd rate my ability to adapt to new technology as fair-to-middling.
Here goes: The phone itself is classy looking. When off, it reminds me of the black stone monolith in 2001, A Space Odyssey. When on, the screen is bright, and has VERY sharp detail (again, I'm coming from the perspective of my Centro). The pinch and spread function (to contract or spread the picture on the screen) works very smoothly and consistently. The "flick" function, used to scroll through apps, is wonderful, don't know how I did without it before. The screen is QUITE sensitive to touch, requiring a bit of getting used to for someone who does not count manual dexterity amongst my assets. Though the phone is big (4.2 inch screen)it is very slender, not heavy, and I don't find it cumbersome in the least. It is comfortable in the hand.
The camera: first, it has two: the heavy duty one (8 megapixel) faces out the back, a 1 megapixel on the keyboard side. In a 4G area (I'm not, yet), this allows video phone calls, I'm told. The camera has autofocus and a surprisingly bright flash. Picture quality seems good to very good.
Sound: I'm a bit hard of hearing, no problems at all with this phone. The sound quality is the best I've ever had on a cell phone. EVO has very few buttons, but it does have a very easy to use up and down volume buttons on the upper left side of the phone, works great.
Keyboard. Well, hmmm. My Centro had a manual keyboard, and if there is anything that I really miss with the EVO, it's actual keys. Though the virtual keyboard is BIG when the phone is tilted to landscape mode, many functions on the phone (including entering contacts!) only allow the portrait keyboard for Qwerty. The phone has three keyboards to choose from, so if you're a whiz with the standard cell phone keyboard that kids are miraculously good at texting with, you can choose that format. I'm getting better, but still quite a few errors in keying.
Speed: in a word: fast. Very little lag between functions, even when more than one function is chugging along.
Voice recognition: the Google search by voice is (for a novice like me) nothing short of a miracle. Say "Quilt stores", and the phone takes into account your GPS location, in seconds a list of quilt stores (or Starbucks, or mountain biking trails)is at your disposal. SO cool! The directory search for phone contacts by voice is a bit more hesitant, could stand some spiffing.
Apps: Holy Cow! Again, I'm a novice, but the very accurate GPS, in conjunction with entertainment apps such as Yelp! and Flixter, is mind-boggling. Touch Flixter, and this very smart phone instantly (NO input required) brings up all theaters, movie times, trailers, Rotten Tomato ratings, AND, all the restaurants in the area of your chosen movie, AND turn by turn directions to the theater thanks to Google Maps. Basically, get off a plane anywhere in North America, you're ready to roll!
The GPS. Eerie, when combined with Google Maps. To navigate, you don't have to enter your starting place, the phone already KNOWS where you are. With a function called "layers", while navigating from point to point you can incorporate a satellite view, giving you an awesome (and distracting!) view of all the territory/buildings around you, for miles, depending on the scale that you choose. Get a (free) sports app, and the GPS/accelerometer kicks in to tell you exactly how far you've gone, maps the route you've taken, tells you how much elevation you've gained (!), and how many calories (incorporating your weight) that you've burned. Crikey, what fun! I used the GPS first day out with my EVO to find a restaurant, than used the voice turn by turn (it does call out specific street names, not just "turn left" or "turn right"). It was flawless, and VERY up to date with recent construction in the area.
WiFi, signed on to my home network without any trouble.
Ability to personalize: terrific, many options to "make it your own".
Synchronization with multiple functions: terrific. No trouble setting up e-mail accounts (you MUST have a Gmail account for full function). I calendar with the online Google calendar on my laptop, the transfer to my phone calendar is automatic and virtually instantaneous.
Bad stuff: they lie if they say that getting all your Palm OS data is going to transfer accurately. Argh. But I'm getting it straightened out. In the "Someday" category: EVO does not support Netflix instant play yet, nor Hulu. I'm a family doc, it DOES support Epocrates, an essential pharmacology data base.
Battery life: I'm guessing 4 hours of continual multi-use, way better than that for talk time only. This multi-function micro-mainframe of an instrument has multiple draws on its battery: GPS, WiFi, AND, you can actually talk on the thing.
So here's my bottom line: If they could give me an easier keyboard, or allow full voice recognition (I use and love Dragon 10.1 at work), EVO and I would become soul mates. As it is, after about a day and a half of adapting to a non-Palm OS system (I had one of the original Palm Pilots), I can tell that a long and fruitful friendship is in the making with this product. The leap from a semi-smart phone, like the Palm Centro, to this one is a quantum leap, not a simple upgrade. Without exaggeration, I can say that the EVO will change the way I operate on a day to day basis. I can also say that it is a whoppingly fun toy to play with!
7/20/2010 Addendum/Update: This is a great phone, and I'll stick by my original statement that it is a quantum leap, not an upgrade, over any previous smart phone that I've owned. BUT...the battery life is a real problem. Even with an App Killer, and even with the GPS and Wi-Fi turned off when I don't need them, well...let's talk car gas mileage and gas mileage for Army tanks. With cars, you describe gas consumption in terms of miles per gallon. With tanks, you describe it in gallons per mile (this is true). If not a tank, the EVO is at least a half-track regarding energy consumption: that little green bar informing you about battery life keeps you mentally tethered to the nearest wall outlet or USB port. I have never run the battery completely down during a workday, but I've come uncomfortably close. There is no question that the value of the EVO would be significantly improved by tripling its battery life, or making replacement/spare batteries available at low cost. Otherwise...I love my Evo!
8-14-2010 Update: The Froyo (Android 2.2) update was simple and flawlessly executed. Even better, it is a substantial improvement. From the very useful Flashlight app that uses the phone's flash LED's as a flashlight, to the quicker transition from one app to another, it's a winner. On a different note, those of you that wonder whether you can "tether" your Evo to your computer as a modem, using a cheap or free one-time app instead of a $29/month fee from Sprint: yes. Which makes the phone even more valuable in hotels and airports that want to charge $10/day for internet, not to mention being on a road trip.
9/30/10 Update: Purchased the Seido battery that has double the capacity of the OEM battery: it's for real! No question whatsoever that I'm going to get through the whole day with power to spare, even leaving Wi-Fi and GPS on, even using the screen for Kindle reading for extended periods. The battery, contrary to what some reviewers have said about it, does significantly add to the weight and thickness of the phone. For me the issue is no contest: I no longer need to know where the nearest electrical socket is, and I have freedom to use all the phone's functions without fear of the color red on the battery bar showing up.