T-Mobile G1 Review

I bought a refurbished iPhone six months after it came out, unlocked it, and used it on T-Mobile.  The phone was plagued with lockups often four times a day, the signal strength was not great and I never really warmed to the on-screen keyboard.  The multi-touch was nothing short of amazing, and the interface simple and easy to understand, but at the time there was no application store so I had to rely on installing applications with the unofficial installer app.  I was impressed with it as a cool tech toy, but unimpressed in it as a phone.  Phones should never crash because their primary job is to be a communication device in any situation including emergencies.

Fast forward a year and then some from the iPhone release when Google and T-Mobile announce the G1, an Android based phone to rival the iPhone.  Admittedly at this point the iPhone had made significant advances in stability, application selection, and included things like true GPS in the 3G model.  After watching the press conference for the G1 I admit I was excited about the T-Mobile phone.  I wanted to pre-order it but then information started to leak out like the lack of standard earphone jack and inconsistent user interface.  Some called the phone buggy and unresponsive.  Others said it was ugly.  My interest faded quickly.

But then I saw some of the android application winners, some of which frankly amazed me, and after some more research on the design and operating system I decided to pre-order the G1 knowing I could return it in 14 days if I did not like it.

The Good:

The T-Mobile G1 has not crashed once in the 15 days that I have had it even after installing and running a large number of the marketplace applications.  This is a significant improvement compared to the iPhone.  The signal strength (I am in a 2G area) is the best I have ever had on any phone with T-Mobile or ATT.  The keyboard is fantastic and eliminates the issues I had with the iPhone on-screen keyboard.  The notification system that lets you know about system events as they happen like SMS message, email, application downloads, when you are in range of WiFi, or any other information an application wants to notify you about.

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Stealing your passwords with SCIENCE!

So you know how we have firewalls, secure passwords, SSL encryption, and all sorts of computer related security?  It is all for shit as of right now.  At 65ft the folks at Switzerland’s Cryptography Lab can capture the electromagnetic emanations from PS2, USB, and laptop keyboards.  As you type on your keyboard the electromagnetic spectrum is scanned and keyboard information is recorded; Engadget has a video of it in action.

I call dibs on the Random Burst Electromagnetic Emanation Device patent which spews electromagnetic information into the air to mask your typing while simultaneously giving you cancer.

Or we could all go back to pencils.

HD-DVD = FAIL!

By now I’m sure most have heard HD-DVD lost the HD format war. I preferred Blu-ray from the beginning based solely on disc capacity. When HD-DVD came out with a finished standard for interactive features my opinion wavered. Blu-ray failed repeatedly to get a standard set for interactivity. My opinion on which format would win flip-flopped like any good politician’s stance on the war, but I continued to hope Blu-ray would win because I felt larger capacity was key to delivering a product as successful as DVD and avoiding becoming the next laserdisc.

As 2007 came to a close I would have been satisfied with either format winning outright. HD looks better than upscaled DVD, so having any HD content in 1080P was important to me. If that meant HD-DVD, so be it.

Then American Gangster came out on HD-DVD/DVD combo disc. Universal put one version of the movie on the HD-DVD side, and another on the DVD side. The features were also split between the two sides. The problem is space. They simply couldn’t fit two versions of the movie on the HD-DVD side of the disc so they made a poor decision and tried to use the HD-DVD and DVD sides instead of including two HD-DVD discs. With 3X DVD starting production early in 2008 my hope was Blu-ray would win. Size issues seen with American Gangster trump Blu-ray’s temporary lack of interactive feature support. I buy movies for the movie not the extras.

Luckily I didn’t have to settle for HD-DVD. Blu-ray won the battle against HD-DVD, but now BDA must win the battle against DVD. They must convince consumers there is a significant advantage over regular DVD and that could be a far tougher battle than anything they’ve experienced against HD-DVD.

2014 UPDATE: Nevermind, streaming won.