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Marci Rich, DROID, Verizon, Motorola, The Midlife Second Wife

The DROID RAZR MAXX HD. Photo taken with the my iPhone’s camera.

Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Boomer Voices program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.

Here’s what came to mind the first time I powered on Motorola’s DROID RAZR MAXX HD, a smart phone that I’m testing as a member of Verizon’s Boomer Voices program: the science-fiction thriller Blade Runner, directed 30 years ago by Ridley Scott. It wasn’t so much the resonance with the product name and the title of the film’s source material, Philip K. Dick’s dystopian novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? as it was the vision that appeared on the screen and the sound emanating from the device.

The first to appear on the touch-screen was Motorola’s red, Batman-like logo, followed by the voice of the DROID—robotic and synthesized—saying (by way of introduction, I guess): “Droid.” Then, immediately after, a lightening-laced, fractured vision that could have been a split-second scene from Blade Runner. After all that, finally, a flickering-red-power-star-encased-in-a-diamond image came into view, signaling that your smart phone is ready to receive you now.

I’ve used an iPhone for years. Turning it on has never been this much fun. Score one for the DROID.

But is fun enough? I’ve been paying close attention to the similarities, differences, pros, and cons ever since returning from Chicago at the end of June, where Verizon Wireless hosted my program colleagues and me to a day-and-a-half of training on this device and related products. Here are a few of my loves and—since hate is too strong a word—dis-loves when it comes to the DROID RAZR MAXX HD:

Voice-Recognition Software
This is, by far, my favorite feature of the DROID RAZR MAXX HD. After unlocking the phone, all I have to do is swoop my finger from the bottom of the screen to the top and Google appears, ready to search at my command. I click the microphone and ask it do to my bidding. For example, I asked Gigi (for that’s what I’ve named this miraculous feature, deciding it made a fine derivative of Google): “Call the Rocky River Public Library.”

“Calling now,” she replied. And just like that, I was connected.

Oh yes, I know all about Siri. I have an iPhone 5, after all. But it’s been my experience that Siri pops up when I least expect her, and when I do need her she’s difficult to find. Google’s voice-recognition software on the DROID RAZR MAXX HD is easier to use. Her tone is slightly more pleasant and human-sounding than Siri’s, too. You can almost hear the smile in her voice.

Again, shades of Blade Runner.

I’ve also had more success with the DROID’s voice-activation in getting to websites than I have with my iPhone.

Google Now
While we’re on the subject of Google, let me just say that I love the “smart cards” that appear beneath the search field when I do that upward swoop thingie. Yes, you do have to allow Google certain permissions for these actions to work, but I’m over that. I like being able to see what’s on my calendar for the day, what the weather is like, and some of my most recent Google searches. If the screen gets too crowded I can simply swipe them away.

For those unfamiliar with smart phones and their operating systems, I should take this opportunity to point out that Google owns Android, which is a Linux-based operating system. Unlike Apple’s operating system, Android is open-source, which means that other developers can create software for it, yielding myriad choices in apps. Apple is an organic entity unto itself—it’s apples to apples all the way. I’m not saying that its closed-system philosophy is a negative—quite the opposite, actually. I’ve been a loyal Mac user ever since purchasing my first desktop back in the late 1980s. But it has been fun to experiment with a different operating system. (Fun. There’s that word again.) We’ll come back to that.

High-Definition Screen, Color, and Instant Photo Uploads
The high-definition screen of the DROID RAZR MAXX HD is a thing of beauty. If you’re reading this review on a DROID RAZR MAXX HD, ask Gigi—er, I mean Google—to pull up a website showing the color spectrum. What do you think?

I actually wonder, however, if the colors I’m seeing are true-to-life. Here’s why. Schopenhauer and color theory notwithstanding, when I use the DROID camera, the image I’m about to shoot doesn’t appear as real—as true-to-life—compared to the camera of my iPhone; the colors seem off. That’s when I look through the viewer, but I’ve noticed it on some of the resulting photos as well. Here’s a picture I took of my iPhone with the DROID. Contrast this with the photo I took of the DROID with the iPhone above. I set each shot the same way, with the same background. I auto-adjusted the color, as I always do, in Photoshop before saving the final image. The backdrop of the iPhone shown below is closer to real-life, and this shot was taken with the DROID. That said, the colors of the iPhone itself are way off. This could be because I’m taking a picture of something with a lit background—even though I cut the brightness of the iPhone’s screen back.

The DROID’s screen in the picture above, taken with my iPhone, is closer to what my eye sees. I hope I haven’t confused you too much. (Can we get a philosopher to weigh in on this?!)

iPhone, The Midlife Second Wife

A picture of my iPhone 5, taken with the camera of the DROID RAZR MAXX HD

I have to wonder if I’m willing to sacrifice visual veracity for ease and speed in uploading. When we were in Chicago, one of the tech trainers set up my DROID so it would automatically upload the photos taken with it to my Google+ account. Talk about magic! This feature saves me the trouble of having to email my iPhone photo to myself, or of having to attach the iPhone to my laptop in order to download images to iPhoto, which I then have to save again to a designated file on my laptop. Once the DROID picture appears on my Google+ page, all I have to do is download it. That’s all. I absolutely love the time this saves me.

I haven’t even begun to tell you other important things, such as the size and shape of the DROID versus the iPhone, the network speed, the battery life, and overall ease of use. I’ll be back again to share more of my thoughts on the DROID RAZR MAXX HD. For now, I’d like to ask your opinion on this:

I’ve often thought there are are two kinds of people in the world, and that they can be summed up in three categories:

  1. Those who prefer Coke over Pepsi
  2. Those who like coffee more than tea
  3. Those who are passionately pro-Mac versus those who are PC

What do you think? And if you are a devoted Apple fan, would you ever change sides? Even for one product? Let me know in the comments below!