I recently took a trip with a Motorola Droid as my main way of keeping in touch with the rest of the world. This trip combined business trip and a vacation, so I used just about every aspect of this smartphone to its fullest extent. I thought some of you would be interested in my experiences.
On the Plane
My trip started off with a flight to Boston. Naturally, much of the wireless features of the Droid were turned off when I was in the air, but the device was still useful.
I recently downloaded the Kindle app which ties in to Amazon’s ebook store, and it’s quickly become one of my most used. I spent much of my flight reading a book.
I got restless after a while so I pulled up a Simpsons episode I had preloaded on the Droid. Watching TV on a 3.5-inch display isn’t a great experience, but it’s decent as long as you pick the right show. I’d never watch anything that depends on special effects or even a lot of action, but comedies and documentaries work fine.
On the Move
Once I arrived in Boston, I headed for my hotel. I was going to a small one near my company, and my taxi driver had never heard of it. I’d never been there either, but there was no problem — I used Google Navigation and the Droid’s GPS to give him turn-by-turn directions.
I also used the 30 minute taxi ride to catch up on all the emails that had come in while I was on my flight.
The Droid’s version of Android OS comes with a software that lets me connect to my company’s Microsoft Exchange Server, which is an absolute requirement for any smartphone I use. I wish this app allowed me to move messages to folders, but otherwise I’m satisfied with it.
In the Hotel
After I reach my hotel room, I checked in on Brighthand. The Motorola Droid’s web browser is the standard one from Google, and it’s very, very good. I can do most of what I need to maintain the website with it.
Naturally, I generally carry something with a large screen to work on, but for light duty or very short trips, the Droid works fine.
For the few tasks I couldn’t do in the Droid’s browser, I pulled up LogMeIn Ignition, which lets me remotely control my home PC. I’ve been using versions of this for different mobile platforms for years, and it’s one of my all time favorite apps. This app lets my Droid’s screen act as if was the screen on my PC in my office, and I can do most anything remotely — edit images with Adobe Photoshop, access my huge collection of files, the whole nine yards.
In the Meeting
I went to Boston to meet with a group of my coworkers who are scattered over much of the Eastern Seaboard.
Most of the interaction was spoken — otherwise there wouldn’t be much point in bringing all of us together — but there were problems with the projector a couple of people wanted to use for PowerPoint presentations. They instead mailed their files to everyone, and I pulled them up on my Droid thanks to the free Microsoft Office viewer from Quickoffice.
Once the day-and-a-half meeting was over, I headed off to Michigan for my vacation.
This really changed the way I used my phone. Most of my work-related tasks involve email and the web browser, but vacation brings out the music player, the camera, and social networking apps.
Keeping in Touch
While I was on this part of the trip, keeping up with my friends at home took priority over work emails, though I still handled the most pressing ones.
Like a lot of people, I use a variety of ways to communicate with my friends. The most obvious of these is Gmail, but I also send quick text messages, and I frequently post on Facebook.
The free Android OS Facebook app is decent. It’s definitely improved a lot in recent months. When I set off for my trip, it didn’t handle pictures well, but was updated just in time to help me out.
I sometimes even call people, but that’s a bit rare these days.
My trip extended from Atlanta to Boston to the wilds of northern Michigan, and Verizon was able to give me great voice and data device wherever I went. This isn’t true of all the carriers — most of the places I went to in Michigan had no AT&T or T-Mobile service, though Sprint seemed to be as ubiquitous as Verizon.
I also took a lot of pictures on my vacation, but few of these were with the Droid’s camera. That’s because the camera on this smartphone is marginal at best. The list of problems is too long to list here, but most of them are related to taking badly-tinted images indoors, even withh the right filers on.
I’ve included some of my better pictures below — the rest were dumped immediately.
Click to see the larger versions.
On the Dance Floor
We had a party for some friends while we were on this vacation, and the Droid was called into service again, this time as my music player.
Thanks to its 16 GB memory card, I have room to keep a bunch of my favorite songs. I hooked it up to a set of speakers and provided background music.
Wins and Misses
For the most part, the Motorola Droid is a good to smartphone to bring with you on a trip, whether for business or pleasure.
It lets you keep in touch via email or social networking services, and offers enough entertainment options to keep you from being bored.
The feature not on the Motorola Droid I missed the most was the ability to share my network connection with other devices. This is something that starting to be available in other high-end Android OS smartphones.
I also missed having a really good selection of games. Don’t get me wrong, there are some, especially small arcade-style games. But there are painfully few high-end games, especially when compared to what’s available for the Apple iOS.