Richard Freeman on 5 Nov 2009 12:03:05 -0800

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Re: [PLUG] Android?

Morgan Jones wrote:
> I'm in the market for a 3G TMobile phone, I mostly want email, google  
> maps, tethering and light web browsing.  Nice apps would be icing bug  
> not strictly that important.

Email is going to be fine on android - a great gmail client, and lots of 
pop/imap/exchange options (many exchange options cost money, but I think 
some are free - don't use them personally).

Google Maps - you're not going to do better anywhere else obviously...

Tethering - that almost certainly won't be supported on any stock 
android build.  However, it is almost standard on every 3rd-party one 
(cyanogenmod/etc).  Most have usb and wi-fi based options (granted the 
wi-fi is in ad-hoc mode - some people have laptops with a windows policy 
setting that gets tricky in that case).  It probably is going to be 
banned by your provider's service agreement, although if you're just 
downloading a few emails nobody is going to care.  Just don't go 
downloading any torrents or anything like that over 3G or you'll almost 
certainly get a disconnect, nasty-gram, or major throttling.

Web browsing - android's default browser is based on webkit and works 
rather well.  There are a bunch of alternatives, including one by Opera. 
  I just stick with the default.  Only issue I've seen is that 
multiple-window support is a bit weak - when you switch windows it seems 
like it does a full reload.

> Would anyone  be able to venture a brief comparison with a modern  
> Blackberry?  I'm tentatively holding out for the rumored upcoming 3G  
> TMobile Blackberry but would consider a MyTouch.

Can't help too much there - never actually used a blackberry firsthand. 
  However, having seen them I can comment a little on the form-factor.

The G1 is a LOT bigger than a blackberry when the keyboard is extended - 
no question about that.  On the other hand, the keyboard is almost 
certainly going to be easier to use.  I wouldn't want to type an essay 
on it, but it works well enough for quick emails.  Plus, you can use an 
on-screen keyboard if you need to just type in a few characters.

The MyTouch is supposed to be a lot nicer than the G1, but I'm not sure 
I could part with the keyboard personally.  That is a matter of taste. 
I certainly wouldn't mind the hardware upgrades though.

You should be able to use an android-based phone at any T-Mobile store - 
they had them to play with at the end of last year when they were a lot 
more rare than they are now.  If you're really brave you can download 
the sdk and try out the emulator.  You'll get zero feel for the 
form-factor, but you should be able to install a working image and see 
how the OS behaves.

I'm sure if you run into somebody at a PLUG meeting they'd be happy to 
let you drool on their phone as well.

Just the fact that I can build my own firmware if needed and tweak 
things makes android the right phone OS for me.  If you have enough SD 
storage you can easily run debian on it (note that most window managers 
are not going to be well-suited to a phone form factor, and I believe 
that debian just runs chrooted in user space - you're not going to run a 
stock debian system including kernel, init, etc).  I'm half-tempted to 
get gentoo running on my phone sometime, but I'll have to settle for 
distcc or pre-built binaries I think.  :)
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