From a single device in 2008 to well over 25 models as you read this, the Android smartphone platform from Google has proved to be a textbook sleeper hit, with virtually every vendor worth its salt releasing an Android touch-screen only phone. Flipside? They’re just too many of them out there, each differing mildly in design and user interface tweaks! With the GW620 and the Milestone, LG and Motorola have chosen to kit their devices with slide-out full QWERTY keyboards, giving keyboard-diehards some much needed Android love!
LG’s chosen a sensible, safe app-roach for testing Android waters, with the GW620 joining a relatively small number of budget-oriented Android phones. Sure, its resistive touchscreen and a slightly smaller-than-average 3-in screen do point to its cost-conscious image, but it’s about par for the course.
The star feature for the GW620 is clearly the full QWERTY keyboard, with large well-laid-out buttons that are a pleasure to use. The keys make a lot of difference during text entry, but there is a trade-off — the keyboard adds to the thickness of the device, and it just ends up looking bulky. Overall, the design is practical and aimed at the youth, so a little lack of sophistication isn’t missed much.
Now, if you’ve used an Android phone, you’ve pretty much used ’em all. LG’s veered off the familiar path and made the phone distinctively LG, by offering the choice of the vanilla Android experience or its own S-Class interface, offering customers an option of sticking to the familiar LG platform should they be upgrading from an LG device.
Pity that they encumbered the phone with version 1.5 of the Android platform, which lacks some of the cool tricks that Google’s launched with the latest version (2.1) of the platform. An upgrade is due in the near future, but with the HTC Hero yet to get the upgrade (and it’s been the flagship product for HTC for months now), I wouldn’t hold my breath for 2.1 to hit the GW620 anytime soon. The phone is very usable, but don’t expect a speed demon — not to be expected either, given the GW620 is equipped with a processor running at 528MHz and just 256MB of RAM. All in all, the LG GW620 is a solid mid-range device, especially if you’re looking for a first Android phone and like your keyboards QWERTY.
But if there’s cash in the bank, the MILESTONE is the latest premium Android device that warrants your attention. It’s the device Motorola is counting on to turn the tide on its fortunes. The design is at best industrial, but the build quality is excellent, almost sublime. This is a phone that can take a licking, and then some. It’s got a MotoRAZR feel to the device, in terms of the use of high-quality material.
Slide out the butter-smooth sliding mechanism for the QWERTY keyboard, and the premium feel continues. The keyboard isn’t as well spaced out as the GW620’s, but it is good nonetheless. I would personally have preferred dropping the large four-way D-pad controller and making the keys bigger.
Superlatives continue with the large 3.7-in screen, which at a razor-sharp 854 x 480 resolution is bright and awesome to use. It’s possibly the best screen I have seen on a phone, and sets the bar high for the next-gen iPhone due out in the summer.
Performance wise, this phone uses the ARM Cortex-A8h processor running at 550MH, which is slightly faster than many other premium Android phones, but marginally slower compared to Snapdragon 1GHz processor on the Acer Liquid A1 or the Google Nexus One. If you’re running many applications simultaneously, you’re likely to run into some lag occasionally. No compromises on the platform — the MILESTONE offers no less than the latest 2.1 iteration on the Android OS, and in addition comes with turn-by-turn navigation for most Indian cities preloaded on the bundled 8 GB microSD card.
Possibly the only real weakness in the device is the battery life. The 1390 capacity sounds promising, but for a smartphone with this huge a display, the battery barely lasts a full day if you’re active on Twitter and pull email to your device frequently. Be prepared to keep the charger handy at the end of the day.
Price: Rs 16,299
Price: Rs 32,990
If you’ve got an ageing laptop that runs the older 802.11g standard for wireless connectivity, it probably isn’t up to scratch for increased speeds that the new generation of wireless-N standard routers offer. Enter the D-Link Wireless-N Nano USB Adapter DWA-131 (phew!), which thankfully unlike its name, is extremely small and just about peeks out of the USB port. Performance is top-notch, but owing to its size, the range drops off between floors or when you move too far away from the router.
Price: Rs 1,850
Plain vanilla Digital Video Recorders are passé, what with the latest offerings from Airtel DTH and Tata Sky. Airtel DTH now offers consumers the option of recording up to 100 hours TV content using a mobile application, so you can start recording that show if you’re stuck at work or in traffic. Tata Sky goes that one step further and allows recording of TV shows on its DVR Tata Sky Plus via the Internet as well. Impressive, but I for one can’t wait for IPTV (Internet Protocol) TV to get more mainstream.
URL: http://www.tatasky.com/ and http://www.airtel.in/
Price: Rs 5,999 (TataSky),Rs 6,990 (Airtel)