Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Android Infuse 4G Experience

I have been using the iPhone 4 for about a year now and it was my first foray into the world of smartphones. As expected, switching over from my Motorola Razr to the iPhone fundamentally changed  my relationship with my cellphone. Recently, I had the pleasure of reviewing the Android Infuse 4G and was very  impressed by its capabilities – it reset and recalibrated what I thought I could expect from a smartphone.

Google Voice Actions -  Absolutely loved the idea of being able to search, text, email and call by saying what I want done. Both my daughter J and I tried it out. I do not have an American accent and she does. We both found it really hard to get Android to understand what we were saying. So the calls went to the wrong person (if at all), the email typed out completely incorrect and so on.

We tried ennunciating each word, pausing between them, speaking loud – all to no avail. We did get lucky one out of ten times but it was hard to understand what worked versus what did not. In short, high expectations from the feature but not impressed by the results. If this had worked as half as well as the demo promised I would be sold on the Android.

USB Connectivity –  Being able to copy any file via USB on to the Android is huge plus over the iTunes interface iPhone requires for file movement between computer and phone.  I tried this a few times but could not get my computer with Windows XP installed on it to recognize the device. Maybe a little more patience and digging around would have helped.

Email - Did not find the Combined Inbox (combining email from all my mailboxes) so useful.  I was not able to see my mailboxes seperately because the drop down listing containing my mailboxes would not respond when I touched it.  I could not find options like Reply All or Forward.

Navigation and Maps – Meets and even exceeds expectations. I already love Google Maps and use it all the time. The logical next step is to have it on Android with voice prompts. Being able to speak my destination into the phone via Google Voice Action would have made it sweeter. 

Interface –  Exceeds expectation. The bigger screen is very helpful whether you are reading  or watching a movie. Both  color clarity and sound quality are impressive. I can actually see myself watching a full length movie on this device but on an iPhone a two to three minute video clip is about all I can do comfortably. For the road warrior types with a Netflix account this could be a perfect way to take in a new release while waiting for a connecting flight.

Camera – Exceeds expectation. The options on the camera are well beyond anything I expected on a phone. I really like the camera on my iPhone but this gives me features I don’t have on it. Even out of the box, this camera would be perfect to take pictures on a vacation. With the many camera apps for Andriod that are out there, you can do some really cool things. 

Quick Office - Liked the idea of having access to basic Word Processing capability on a phone. Being able to save documents in Word or Excel is definitely valuable. However, the Word document does not have any of the formatting options I expected - and so it is really no different from a basic text editor. Once I created a document, I could not find a way to delete it.

Usability – It look me a while to figure out how to exit my current screen – the only out being the back option at the bottom of the screen. The Home option was a life saver. I have to admit I did not read the manual – I expect the interface to be intuitive enough to make the user manual redundant. On the keyboard itself, the navigation between alpha, numbers and different character sets was somewhat confusing. The predictive option that came on every time I tried to type something was extremely aggravating. It took me all of five minutes to type my name because it is not a word in the dictionary. Typing on the keyboard was no walk in the park either – I was fat fingering letters at an astounding clip.

Summary – Like it a lot and will watch how it evolves. The next time I am in the market for a smartphone, the Android will be strong contender. The biggest thing on my wishlist is for Voice Actions to work a lot smarter than they do now.

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