Sunday, May 16

Review Followup: HTC Incredible on the road

I've owned the HTC Incredible from Verizon for a little over two weeks now. I spent a week traveling from Albany to Denver by way of Cincinnati, then Denver to San Diego, then back to Albany via Dulles. Along the way I encountered a few other happy new Incredible owners, as well as a lot of recognition of my Incredible by non-owners. I think I converted a few to soon-to-be owners as well. Everyone loves it, even Blackberry and iPhone 3G owners -- and ESPECIALLY WinMo owners. (Joe, I'm lookin' at you pal ;)

Signal in Albany, Cincinnati, Denver and San Diego airports was good to great; signal in Dulles was EXCELLENT, at least in the United terminal. Reception in general in all these cities was reliable, 3G included. Denver International Airport might have been a bit of a 1X zone however.

Battery life continues to be a concern for me, as well as a few other otherwise overjoyed owners I spoke with. I'm debating a +200mA upgrade battery that fits under the OEM cover. I'm also debating a 2100mA upgrade battery that requires a matching, bloated aftermarket cover. I think it would be unfortunate to disturb the beautiful lines, the compact profile of the Incredible however, and as I'm now looking at skins and cases, I don't want to mess with fit. The marginal utility of a $50 standard-fit 200mA upgrade is highly debatable however.

One note: a lot of apps execute in the background without explicit user activation. Using Advanced Task Killer, regularly wiping out resident background apps, I do seem to get better battery life, but not great. I'm working on uninstalling a bunch of useless apps I added, in the hopes that less background app activity will lengthen battery life.

I am currently in love with GPS + Google Maps Navigation on this Android 2.1 device. One word: SICK!!!!!!!! Two words: fothermucking SICK!! No need for a separate GPS device for automobile navigation ever again. Other than some hiccups over direction retrieval after an update last week where since updating only explicit addresses seemed to work for navigation route lookups, Google Maps Navigation readily guided us from place to place with great navigation perspective and excellent, responsive recalcs and voice turn-by-turn directions in Denver and San Diego.

Search by Voice needs some training, but it has a TON of hands-free potential. Searching by location in general is an EXCELLENT way to find ATMs, gas stations, restaurants, hotels, parking, client offices. I am totally, completely in love with this heavily integrated set of map & navigation features, aside from its battery-draining potential.

On the road for work purposes, I was occasionally forced to tether, especially when "high speed wireless Internet" at Doubletree Golf Resort San Diego or Fairfield Inn in Denver was simply unusable, as it was numerous times in the few hours I spent awake in my room in either location. I am having difficulty with USB drivers, HTC Sync and Windows 7 x64; these do not seem to have been entirely resolved by installing Windows Mobile Device Center 6.1; I have not been able to get Verizon Mobile Broadband to work with my notebook yet. After installing WMDC 6.1 I was finally able to get PdaNet to work, which provided some much-needed, better-than-dialup connectivity at times when Doubletree's wifi couldn't get its act together. I have still decided that I, or the office, will still need to be investing in a 3G broadband card, but PdaNet and the Incredible over Verizon aren't a bad emergency option.

Typing is still a bit of a chore, but definitely getting more comfortable with it. I'm not disappointed at leaving the physical keyboard of the TyTnII/Kaiser behind -- not one bit.

Enjoying the beautiful sunny blue sky by the bay at Seaport Village in San Diego Friday afternoon, the screen on the Incredible was pretty much unreadable. That is a bit unfortunate, but using one's hand, and/or finding a bit of shade, is an acceptable compromise for me in an otherwise dynamite mobile device.

I would absolutely buy this phone again, and unhesitatingly recommend it to anyone looking for a new smartphone. I am exceedingly happy with both the phone and with Verizon signal and 3G broadband.