The T-Mobile G1, because I didn’t need a second iPod

Well after leaving my old Orange contract and going on Pay-as-you-go because I was getting sick of crappy smartphones that ate batteries and did a really poor approximation of the Internet, I have done a spectacular governmental-sized U-turn and obtained a T-Mobile G1 with a hefty 18 month contract that costs me a mere £30 a month.

For this expensive privilege I get a large brick-like phone and a permanent 3G Internet connection. It’s certainly no iPhone, that’s for sure, the styling being somewhere between a plastic swimming-pool brick and an old Nokia Communicator. No idea what the bent bit on the end is for either, and the less said about the plastic slider hinge, the better.

However, it has many good points that I will list in a handy bulleted list

  1. 3G Internet is actually pretty good
  2. So is having a real keyboard to type on
  3. Being actively encouraged to develop applications is a bonus
  4. Finding out all the applications in the Android Marketplace are free is also quite good
  5. So is discovering that currently they’re not all crap
  6. And applications are allowed to continue running in the background
  7. The phone comes free with the contract, and the contract gives an insane amount of free calls and texts

So it’s kind of like an iPhone, but the apps are free and you get a glowy feeling by knowing that you’re supporting something open, rather than closed and sealed behind magic Apple NDAs and threats of DMCA violations if you so much as try to look through the headphone jack’s hole. And it can actually multitask… which turns out to be more useful than it first seemed.

It does eat batteries though, and I’m quite obviously playing “beta tester” for Google and HTC by owning this device. However I’m on a contract, and contracts offer upgrades 🙂

I do like the G1 though, it’s a great device for the Internet obsessed people out there, mine bleeps when there’s Twitter updates and email to be read, and with a little bit of effort I can take a photo and upload it to PicasaWeb or Twitter for some instant photo blogging. I really like having a permanent (subject to network coverage and battery life) Internet connection. I listened to music from my Last.FM account last night over 3G, which was a novelty. A really cool, futuristic novelty that I’ve wanted to do since I decided carting tapes of music to college was a hassle.

And the Google integration is really good too. From the minute I turned it on first it asked for my Google login details, then began sucking down my contacts, calendar and GoogleTalk data. I then went into GMail and created a special ‘phonebook’ category and told my phone to only sync that one, my GMail contacts list having several hundred addresses in, most of which don’t need to live on my phone. I now own a portable device that is designed to sync with my Google Calendar and addressbook. I tried to make my N810 do that, but gave up. I can also read Facebook on it and log into my server at home via SSH while at work – something I can’t normally do due to work’s restricted Internet connection 🙂

With my iPod Touch, the lack of multitasking isn’t that much of a big deal; if I’m browsing the web and want to go and check my Twitter account it doesn’t matter if things close off and stop working behind the scenes. However with a phone it’d get a bit irritating, and being able to leave an SSH session running while I go and read an SMS is very handy.

Oh yeah, the SSH client is better than the one on the iPod, the keyboard being the main thing that makes it better. Real keyboards are great, I like them 🙂

It’s definitely a ‘public release’ bit of hardware though. There’s nothing actually wrong with the device in any way, but there’s a feeling that they’re still working the system out. And owning weird hardware is just what I like to do 🙂

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