Friday, February 5, 2010

Tip 16: Droids

Although my husband loves all things technology, we rarely are among the first people to get a new product. But, then 2009 rolled around, and we decided that we would not buy each other presents for special occasions. Because we pool all our money in shared accounts and we make the exact same salary, "buying each other gifts" was really "buying myself a gift." So, we said, let's just agree to get exactly what we want -- smartphones! Until October we were convinced that smartphone would be an iPhone. Then Motorola released the Verizon-powered Droid, and we were smitten. Matt spent much of his 29th birthday dinner at Zytinya playing with our friend Jason's Droid, so then he moved up the purchase date (surprise, surprise). As it turns out, we were up for our new phones sooner than we realized, which is why I suggest...

Tip 16: Upgrade to a Droid, but wait until you are scheduled for a new phone.

For this post I'm not going to get all geeked out on you because, frankly, I can't, so I'll explain why I love this phone for people who, like me, enjoy technology but don't spend much of our lives obsessing over it. I love my Droid, but my philosophy is that I survived for 28 years without it, so I could wait until our plans allowed us to make the purchase. So, get a Droid, but not until you're ready. It's pricey.

  • For the phones: We got Matt's Droid first for $157.49. We got mine two days later for $209.99. Matt's was cheaper because we're on a family plan and therefore only he got the additional $50 off the cost of the phone. So, two phones for $367.48, by far the most we've ever spent on phones. Up until this one, all our phones were either free or $50.
  • For the plan: We are on the Nationwide Talk FS 700 plan for Verizon. This includes:
    • $60 monthly access charge, with 700 monthly allowance minutes (this covers both phones)
    • $9.99 per additional line (because it's a family plan...this is charged to my account)
    • $29.99 x 2 for email and web for smartphones
    • $5 x 2  for 250 text message allowance
    • 15% discount for being a state of Virginia employee (if you don't already get a discount on your cell phone service, see if you can get one because, as Matt points out, most big employers provide cell service discounts)
    • 12% feature discount...we don't even know what that is, but we will gladly accept it
    • Once you do all the crazy math for our two separate cell phone charges that are eventually bundled together as one, and you add taxes, etc., you get a grand total of $136.36 per month for two people. This is, again, the most we've ever spent for cell phone service, but we believe it's worth it. Here's why: 
 Droid features:
  • Good coverage -- Maybe this is more Verizon than Droid, but our friends with iPhones have always complained about dropped calls or no service at all under AT&T's coverage, and we've never once had a problem with service with our Droids. Service coverage was the number one reason we opted for the Droid over the iPhone.

  • GoogleMaps navigation -- We do not own a GPS, and the fact that the Droid came with not only a GoogleMaps app but also a navigation system just like a GPS is another feature that made the Droid beat out the iPhone. Plug in your destination address, and GoogleMaps will tell you where to go -- either by speaking to you, directing you on the screen, or both. We even bought this Droid holder to increase our driving safety when using our Droids as navigation systems. (It cost $30.)

  • Keyboard -- Our model, the Droid, has both a touch-screen keyboard and a flip keyboard, but there's also a Droid Eris model that is ever-so-slightly thinner and only comes with the touchscreen keyboard. I thought I would want both keyboards, but I've never once typed on the flip keyboard. Even though the Droid Eris is a little smaller, the downsize to that model is that the touchscreen is also a little smaller. I love the size of our Droid screen, and I love typing on the touchscreen. Like any new technology, if you force yourself to adapt, you will, and you'll probably be better for it.


  • Alarm clock -- I know this is a small feature, but I love how I can set alarm clocks and then save them so I don't have to reprogram my alarms every week. So, I have that painful 5:10 a.m. alarm clock set for Monday-Friday, but I can usually get away with no alarm clock for the weekends!
  • Contacts -- Here's a tip: When you get a Droid, make sure you're already using Google programs or you're ready to make the switch. Contacts in the Droid come out beautifully, provided you've got contact information saved in your Gmail account. Droid also syncs up with your Facebook account, so all my friends show up in my contacts screen with their Facebook profile picture, the phone number I entered into Gmail, the email I have from Gmail, and any additional contact information they've entered into Facebook. When friends update info in Facebook it automatically updates in my contact list. Love it.

  • Camera -- Even though we're camera snobs, the built in Droid camera takes some pretty decent photos provided you're not shooting for (pun intended) award-winning photography. You just have to be patient because there is a fairly significant pause between when you press the shutter button and when the camera actually takes the picture. Good for mobile uploads or for capturing that photo when you don't have a camera handy.

  • Awesome free apps -- I will never pay for an app. The Droid is new, so the apps are slowly but surely building up. There are only about one-third as many Droid apps as there are iPhone apps (according to some blogs I've read), but I'm amazed by everything my free apps do to make my life easier. Here are my favs:
    • OurGroceries -- I already posted about OurGroceries, but it's worth reiterating because it probably wins my most useful app award.
    • ActionComplete -- This is the ultimate list maker for organization nerds like me. Not only can I keep a list of Actions (tasks) with due dates arranged by urgency (soonest due date) or alphabetical, but I can also keep a list of Waits, which I use as a list of items I'm waiting on others to complete. For example, I'm waiting for my passport to arrive, so I entered the estimated arrival date; and I'm waiting for a big check in the mail (hooray!), so I again entered the estimated arrival date. It's a good way to keep track of information I often forgot to keep track of before. There's even a tab for Projects where you can divide big assignments into smaller tasks so as not to get overwhelmed by a bulky to-do list.
    • UnitConverter -- I failed liquid measurements in third grade, and that failure still haunts my everyday existence. Now, though, I can stand in the grocery store, ready to make a soup, look at the recipe that calls for 5 cups of stock, and figure out just how many ounces that translates to when staring blankly at the stocks and broths aisle. I know I could try hard to learn the rules, but between my UnitConverter app and my measurement conversion magnet on our fridge I am set to never redeem my third grade failure.
    • GooglePlaces -- All this app does is take that review information that comes up when you do a Google search for a specific business and place it into one program. But what makes this program awesome is that it's also connected to your GPS, so when you're on the road searching for the nearest gas station or restaurants you have a slew of options on your screen.
    • ShopSavvy -- Honestly, I don't think I've used this app yet, but it's mere existence is reason enough to get excited. When out shopping, take a picture of a product's barcode. The program searches for the product on the Internet and returns with results of all the prices it can find. It's like immediate comparison shopping. I think since we bought the Droid I've tried to shop a little less, but once spring rolls around this could be great for some upcoming shopping.
    • Gmote -- Control your iTunes library with your phone as a remote control. Matt bought that Apple Airport Express from a lady on Craigslist so he could get this set up. Then he took a set of computer speakers and put them in our living room behind our TV so that we can listen to music from our computer in our office when we're downstairs in our living room. Our solution before was to move our iPod dock from our bedroom to our living room each time we wanted music downstairs, but I like this option a lot better. It's also cheaper than buying another iPod dock, and it saves space.
    • Novelty programs -- There are other programs that, for now, are just for fun, like Shazam, which allows you to hold your phone up to the radio and it will tell you the song's title and artist, or GoogleGoggles, which allows you to take pictures of building, art, objects, and it will perform a visual Google search to bring up information about that item. So far these apps have served as fun novelties, the kind where you show your friend at a bar what your awesome new phone can do, but I haven't reaped many benefits here.
What's annoying about Droid:
  • This little button at the top of the device. You have to press it ever so lightly when your screen is black to unlock your phone, but as Matt often complains, it's an example of poor product design.

That's it. We really have no other complaints. And the Droid is the perfect item for helping you organize your life, take it from me.

Next up...Delicious bookmark management.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Stephanie, I was considering the Droid when my phone upgrade comes around in March, but you totally sold me on it! That little button to unlock the screen actually sounds perfect for me because Luke loves to play with my phone, but has accidentally called people a few times--oops!