New Phone

2010-January-06

Today, my primary project after work has been to hang out in the room and wait impatiently for the FedEx delivery of my new phone. I ordered it last Saturday at the Verizon store, after finding out a) that Verizon has a store very close to the university campus b) I can get and activate the phone with a temporary for a few days, and then after my AT&T contract is up, I can port the old number over and nobody even needs to be aware that I switched phone services.

Unfortunately, what seems to be happening is that FedEx is taking juuust about forever to actually deliver it, so what I've been doing today is working on writing a few blog entries I've been planning awhile, and I went ahead and set my standing desk back up, so I can watch out the window while waiting for the fedex delivery vehicle.

The phone I ended up getting was the HTC TouchPro 2 on Verizon. I chose this phone primarily because it has a fairly remarkable keyboard, as mobile devices go, and the Windows Mobile operating system should do everything I need/want. I did test Windows Mobile in an emulator from Microsoft and what I found is that it has most if not all of the things I do on my iPhone currently.

Anything beyond that is just icing on the cake, and is stuff I use extremely rarely, if ever. If there's a pressing need for Tap Tap Revolution or anything that I have or is available on the iPhone but not Windows Mobile, I'll still have the iPhone around, just in case.

Once I received the phone, I unboxed it fairly quickly and finally figured out how to activate it. It's not that the phone was complicated, just that Verizon sent fairly bad instructions. Once I got the phone I started playing with it, and unfortunately confirmed that the representative in the Verizon store had signed me up for the wrong data plan, so I may be in for some surprised once the first bill arrives.

Another annoyance was that they somehow had my billing address incredibly wrong. I had to call customer service because I was locked out of the web account I was trying to create. The representative was able to fix my billing address and then give me a rundown of what would happen when this month is over and I receive my first bill. It all seemed pretty straightforward so I'm not too worried about it.

Once I port my number by this time next week, I will go ahead and also ask about the incorrect data plan, and more importantly, whether or not I can get my employee discount applied to the data plan that I actually want to be using.

Physically, the device is great. It feels great in my hand, it slides open really nicely to reveal what I already knew (from looking at the AT&T Tilt2) was going to be nothing short of what's probably the best keyboard on a mobile device today.

The software is a little bit awkward, and my overall estimation of the easy availability of software was a little bit off. Part of this is because the Verizon TouchPro2 hasn't yet received its update to Windows Mobile 6.5, which is what I had been running in the Microsoft device simulator. The other thing is that the Microsoft Application Marketplace has almost nothing in comparison with the epic app store for Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch devices, and the acceptably well-stocked Android Marketplace. Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? Well, the apps that are there are fairly decent, but many of them cost money.

Admittedly, judging an entire platform by its app store isn't the best way to start at 2-year contract on a network where it's difficult if not impossible to get another phone for less than $100, once you're into your contract period.

That having been said, there's also a very well-and-alive ecosystem of applications that aren't in the Microsoft marketplace. The issue is just... finding them, and then figuring out the best way to install them. So far, the only applications I've started using in this way are Google Maps and PocketPuTTY.

The only big, unfixable software gripe I have right now is that Pandora isn't available, and it seems that there either aren't any good twitter clients, or the ones that are there cost money, up to $5, which isn't bad and I'll have to look and think about it, but it's definitely not what I'm used to on the iPhone, where I have three excellent free twitter clients.

The organization and synchronization functions are amazing. I have my university Google account set to synchronize e-mail, calendar appointments as well as my contacts, and I have my personal google account set up just for email, and my Windows Live Hotmail account set up as well, also just for e-mail.

Right now there's no way to synchronize OneNote notes over the air, but OneNote synchronizes with a special section within OneNote on my PC very handily, both with the included USB cable, and over bluetooth. After seeing how it works and playing with it for a bit, I'm pretty sure that this device can replace my physical steno pad, so I'm going to be working on the exact logistics of that over the next few weeks.

Needless to say, I'm incredibly excited to have the new phone, and while it doesn't already do everything the iPhone might do, I have two years to figure it out or decide that something else is for me. I can only forsee it getting better, software-wise, the way the iPhone did.