[sclug] OT: Two weeks with the HTC Hero and Android OS

Alex Butcher lug at assursys.co.uk
Sun Feb 14 00:45:09 UTC 2010

On Sun, 14 Feb 2010, Pieter Claassen wrote:

> Thanks a million for that.

Very pleased it was helpful. I've been on quite a learning curve over the
last couple of weeks and figured there might be some things worth
documenting in one place for others' benefit.

> I am in the NL and looking to buy a new phone for my wife. I have
> the Magic and also have some positives/negatives to mention about the Magic.
> In a nutshell:
> 1. The deals out there I find too complex (WTF are Blox anyway...) but I eventually signed a
> continuation deal with Vodafone NL in Dec that give me the phone for free and 50% of my EU22
> per month for 1 year. The 2 year deal was totally worth it, even if the phone dies after 1
> year, it was still a cheaper TCO than any alternative. I had the feeling that Google threw
> some money at this problem at that time. I cannot find this deal anywhere anymore and the TCO
> of this phone is now again in line with the iPhone over 2 years. There seems to be no new
> Android phones with Vodafone in the market here.

Argh. Don't get me started on mobile telco "confusopolies" as Scott Adams
called them.

I've been imagining something like the current range of smartphones
(Android, iPhone, N900, N97, E61/E71/E72) for at least three years now, but
have been holding off mainly because data costs were so high. What's the
point in having a fancy device and not being able to actually *use* it
economically? (Well, apart from showing off your bling to your mates down
the pub, which seems to be why many non-geeks are buying the things...)

I've been watching T-Mobile for some time, as their Web n' Walk booster
struck me as geek-friendly.  When the FUP limit became 3GB and the monthly
cost was only a little more than I was paying for PAYG topups (about
?10/month, giving only 100 texts), I buckled.  I'm fortunate enough that the
one-off purchase price is a non-issue for me, especially if it gets me what
I want for a lower total cost.

I'd really have liked to favour the N900, but apart from a short pre-order
period on T-Mobile which I missed, it's now only on Vodafone or SIM-free.
Either way is expensive. I figured I'd give the Hero a punt, and if it
didn't work out, I could sell it to CEX for double what I paid, and drop the
SIM into a SIM-free N900 or have my K800i unlocked.

Originally, I thought that Android would be squeezed between the
geek-friendly N900 and the mass-market-friendly iPhone; being neither one
nor the other.  I've since changed my opinion; I'm seeing more third-party
support for Android than I expected, and yet it's still a very geek-friendly
device.  Android certainly doesn't have the third-party support (especially
games) or polish of the iPhone, but those aren't huge issues for me.
Hopefully the polish will come.

> 2. Voice recognition doesn't work at all.

I see reference to voice dialling on the Hero, but nothing I've tried
enables it. Google Voice Search mostly works fine though, and with no
training process. I'm impressed, but it certainly acts as a
counter-advertisement for Google Voice (<http://www.google.com/voice>); I
don't see any significant benefits to allowing Google to index my voice
conversations as well as everything else!


> 6. I am a big user of Google apps and consequently, the integration is really good. Contact
> integration is superb. So is mail and calendar.

My Hero has persuaded me to look closer at Google's apps. Calendar has some
odd behaviour. Only today, I was fighting it to get the 'UK Holidays'
calendar I subscribe to synced to my Hero. I eventually did it, but it was a
I think Calendar is most in need of some polish now Android phones are
taking off.

One thing I am confident about is that given Google's diversity and ability
of its staff, things will get better for the forseeable future.

> Rgds,
> Pieter

Best Regards,

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