T-Mobile G1 Hands-On and Video: Feels Like Gen-1 Product

The Android revolution has started, but should anyone care? Based on spending an hour with a pre-release version of the T-Mobile G1, I think it’s an intriguing device that does some innovative things, but it certainly won’t blow people away. Here’s what I like and what I don’t about HTC’s first crack at a Google phone. Let’s start with the positives. It’s obvious that Google has done a nice job with the Android operating system itself. It feels snappy, and didn’t show much in the way of lag during my hands-on time when switching between the desktop and opening applications. (Part of the credit should go to Qualcomm’s dual-core chip, the MSM7201A). I dig the one-touch search key on the keyboard, which allows you to perform a Google search from wherever you are on the device. The swooping swinging action on the slide-up display feels solid, and the keyboard (while flat) will certainly prove attractive to those who don’t like the idea of typing on a touchscreen. The BlackBerry-esque trackball also worked well. Naturally, Google’s services are front and center, including Gmail, Google Talk (although AOL, Yahoo, and Windows Live are also on board), and Google Maps. The YouTube app has a basic layout, but it was easy to find and play video clips, even if they looked blurry over T-Mobile’s fledgling 3G network. Having instant access to the Amazon MP3 store is also nice, but you can only order tunes over Wi-Fi. Worse, there’s no stereo Bluetooth connection and HTC didn’t include a 3.5mm headphone jack. I do like, however, that you can press and hold on an artist name in the media player to either buy more tracks from Amazon or link to any YouTube videos. It’s this kind of cross-integration between apps that I’d like to see more of. This press-and-hold action also enables users to move applications to the main desktop screen on the G1, or move them to secondary screens (similar to the iPhone). Speaking of apps, the Android Marketplace was fairly intuitive to navigate. Like the Apps Store for the iPhone, it’s simple to get apps by just touching the screen. There are also star ratings. However, at this early stage the selection seemed rather limited. For example, the only game listed was Pac-Man. The ShopSavvy app, which lets you comparison shop by scanning barcodes, looked compelling, but I’m not sure how many people are going to use Ecorio for calculating their carbon footprint. We didn’t have time to set up a Gmail account or try instant messaging, but we did play around with Google Maps. Half the time the app could pinpoint our location, telling us twice to go outside to try and get a clear signal. Street View on the G1 seems useful at first, but is really just eye candy. Sure, it’s great that you can pan around the street you’re on (or near) by simply moving your hand, thanks to the built-in compass feature, but why not go further by overlaying information about what you’re seeing. What I want to see is more contextual information like restaurant reviews and business listings pop up, maybe a Yelp mashup. I hope this functionality is added via third-party apps. As for the Web browser, it’s decent. Speeds during our initial tests were a bit slower than the iPhone 3G, but it was easy to pan around with swipes and zoom in (by double tapping or via dedicated touch screen buttons). Support for Flash is absent, at least for now. To give you an example, it took only about 7 seconds for NYtimes.com to start loading, but close to 20 seconds for the page to fully load. We look forward to doing more in-depth testing both inside and outside of Manhattan to see if suring over EDGE is bearable. At $179, the G1 is aggressively priced and should appeal to people looking for something more full-featured than a Sidekick. I’m particularly interested in learning about what other applications might become available by launch. However, at least at the moment the G1 doesn’t feel very polished–especially compared to the iPhone or newer BlackBerrys–and although I’m glad Android is taking an open approach to allowing third-party developers and startups to create applications, the Android Marketplace seems to be lacking when it comes to big-name developers. I’ll withhold final judgement until we do a full review of the T-Mobile G1 but if I had to make a call now I’d choose the BlackBerry Bold or the iPhone 3G (even with its issues) over this device. [flq:1c5f997f107b46ee9c2c19d670e3ffd5]

Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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  1. rebecca Says:

    I love my phone but all the other phone are able to get a flash player but you can’t get one for this phone and this phone is supose to like mini computer.I played a a lot of money for this phone I want to beable to get a flash player on my phone

  2. rebecca Says:

    I payed a lot of money for my phone iam unable to get aflash player and I want one on my phone.

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