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In Praise of my Defy


The madness of the last month and a half have left me with little time or energy to sit back and wibble on here as I normally like to do but I've got a little more time now and I've been very taken with a new toy I bought a couple of months ago now just before this all began.

For a long time I'd held off buying a smart phone. You may remember I dabbled with a Samsung i8910 for a while until the touch screen broke but in truth I didn't get on with it that well with it and was grateful to be back with my trusty Nokia 6760 about which I've written before.

Motorola DefyBut still I was tempted by a touch screen smart phone and it had to be Android. The only question was which one. I did toy with getting a Flipout for a while as it had a keyboard, but in the end I went for a Motorola Defy which I can best describe as "an Android phone for clumsy people". It's got Gorilla Glass on the front and a rubberised case so you can drop it and it says "yeah, so, wot else ya got?". Better yet if you drop it in a bucket of water it doesn't mind at all! (The spec is IP67 which is "dust tight, immersion to 1m".)

So what do you get for your money? Well it's reasonably fast with an 800Mz TI OMAP 3630-800 processor which has an ARM core. Comes with Android Éclair 2.1. Android 2.2 is out in the States for it already and is due in Europe in a few days. It's got a 480 x 854 pixel display, 802.11b/g/n wireless, bluetooth, FM radio, micro USB for charging and data, 3.5mm audio, 5Mpixel camera, LED flash, aGPS, compass, 2GB internal shared memory, 2GB microSD card, and 512 of RAM.

I've replaced the microSD card with an 8GB one I had kicking about but otherwise that's about it on hardware.

So what do I think of it? Well I'm just bowled over by it on the whole. Here's a few examples:

  • We have a Fon wireless access point here which means we share a bit of our bandwidth with passing strangers. That means we can then use other people's Fon access points all over the world for free. I have a little app on my Defy which automatically detects Fon access points and logs me into them. Most of the time this is our own but last night while waiting for my Chinese to be prepared I was looking at my email and discovered my Defy had hooked up to someone's Fon access point (there's a lot of them about since BT got into bed with Fon).

  • I run TweetDeck on the Defy. It subscribes to Facebook and Twitter for me. Over the last few weeks it's been a great boon when I get five minutes of quiet time somewhere with nothing else to do: waiting for a bus, waiting for a saucepan to boil, waiting for Beth to come back from X-ray again I can catch up on what's going on. And using Evernote I can quickly note anything important for later consideration.

  • the default mail client didn't impress me much but K-9 mail is a well written mail client which, with a bit a fiddling with the settings, can be made to work properly.

  • BeyondPod keeps me supplied with speech radio while I'm walking the dogs around Milton Country Park, which I've been spending rather a lot of time doing recently. It knows about bookmarking too, so it remembers where I was when I go back to a podcast days later.

  • the application which surprised both of us is Our Groceries which is a simple shopping list application. What makes it cool is that it's got a web interface: so Beth and I build up the list of shopping through the week and it's there on my phone at any time. In fact the scary part is that she can add items after I've set off.

Other things I've noted with admiration include Google Latitude which means I can let Beth track my location at all times by turning on the GPS on the phone which was useful when I set off to walk the dogs when feeling ill1 so if I didn't reappear she would know where to send the search party; the RPN calculator; the integration with Dropbox, Pixelpipe et al; and Trainline Tickets which, although it's meant to be there to sell you tickets, is actually a great little free app for looking up train times while on the move.

Oh yes, and it can already play some video via a special YouTube app. When it gets Android 2.2 in a few days it will be able to play them in the browser. Not sure why I want to play much video on my phone mind you, but the odd short clip via Facebook or Twitter can be amusing.

Anyway overall a very neat bit of kit and fairly reasonably priced2. Recommended.

  1. In normal times when she could walk I would have been home in bed or on the sofa.
  2. I got mine via Amazon and paid £253.97 inc carriage but I see they're a bit dearer today. I think their real price must be in US$ or Euros as it seems to go up and down almost daily.

Tags: toys Written 23/05/11

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