Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Droid Looks Nice

Here's a breif article on Droid with some nice pictures. The keyboard doesn't appeal to me, but to people who want a physical keyboard, this should have a lot of appeal, since they've put a decent-size keyboard on a phone that's almost as thin as the iPhone. I'd really like to check one of these out. I honestly do not think it's an iPhone Killer. To be that, the Android 2.0 OS would have to take a quantum leap forward in usability. It wouldn't be enough to become as-good or even a little better than the iPhone. To become an iPhone killer, a phone has to be significantly better than the iPhone. On the hardware side, though, there's some stuff that looks great on paper.

The screen has a much higher resolution than existing iPhones at 854x480 pixels. I'm curious about this item, though. It's one of those things that we geeks like to salivate over. Look at all those extra pixels! But, I wonder how much of a difference that will make to the end user and what the tradeoff will be. That's a very high PPI. It might be one of those things where they've pumped up the resolution to have a better spec for advertising purposes, but that having the extra resolution doesn't offer much real benefit to the user.

Plus, it seems like it would have to be more of a drain on the battery than a lower-resolution screen. That's an awful lot more pixels to push (roughly 300% of the iPhone), which means much more work for the GPU, which also means a drain on the battery. The iPhone's 320x480 screen already has a higher PPI than most computer screens, so I'm curious if the higher-resolution screen is really a good idea in practice, or if it's just geek-pr0n for people who get off on having better specs than their neighbor, sort of like the MHz processor wars a few years back when Intel started increasing clock speed by reducing the amount of work done per cycle because the clock speed had become the main marketing point for processors.

I'm not saying that's the case. I don't have access to a Droid so don't have the ability to form an opinion of the Droid. This is all just conjecture at this point. I'm curious, though: Do most people's eyes need significantly more than 150 points per inch, when each point is capable of displaying a range of millions of colors.

If I had to predict, I'd guess that the difference as far as the end-user is concerned will be very little. Fonts and images will be drawn a tiny bit smoother. But, I also predict that it will have an impact on battery life and game performance because there are so many more pixels to push.

But I could definitely be wrong. I would actually love to be wrong this time. If they've really managed to make a significantly better screen without sacrificing battery life or performance, it would be a truly awesome thing, especially if they can combine it with a version of Android that, to the end-user, is nearly as good as the iPhone. I can't think of anything that would push Apple more than having someone nipping at their heels with something that is truly better than the iPhone in some respects and as good (or nearly so) in all others. My fear, however, is that this resolution touting is just another case of trying to compete with the iPhone based on a feature list or spec sheets. If you try to compete on either of those, it shows that you completely fail to grasp what it is that makes the iPhone so popular and indicates that you aren't yet capable of producing an iPhone competitor, let alone an iPhone killer.

I have my fingers crossed that the Droid will live up to the hype, but I'm not betting any money on it.



8 comments:

maskzilla said...

heres a video of it as well!

http://www.engadget.com/2009/10/28/motorola-droid-first-hands-on/

if i didnt have at&t this would definitely be a quick pick up

Jeff LaMarche said...

Actually not impressed with the video - interface looks sluggish and cluttered. Scrolling doesn't seem responsive enough, and the animation effects are skippy.

I'm also curious if they'll fugly it up with all the Verizon red crap.

warmi said...

As long as they are forcing people into using Java , the devices using native compiled code as their default dev environment will always end up having advantage over Android.
These days Java is good enough but if you put head-to-head an optimized, trying to squeeze every last drop of performance ,type of app ( think games) written in Java and for instance C++/C (and assuming equally competent programmers), the outcome will always be the same.

Jeff LaMarche said...

Warmi:

Is that true? I know it is generally, speaking, because of the VM, but I thought there were some "java on a chip" implementations for embedded devices that made the performance of Java close to that of compiled applications. Of course, I don't know if they are being used on Droid, I just don't want to blame Java unfairly. :)

warmi said...

It is not just pure performance ( although that matters as well, using asm on the iPhone for some stuff can speed up things by 300%) but also other issues like ability to allocate and manage raw memory etc ... These things do matter for games and other similar apps and it is one of the reasons that you won’t find any commercial Java-based games, despite the fact that the language has been out there for almost 15 years.

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