Review: Droid X for heavy media users, not all

Droid X is a rich multimedia phone.

Droid X is a rich multimedia phone. (Credit: AP)

Verizon has teamed up with Motorola yet again to bring consumers another version of its popular Droid smart phone with the new Droid X. This latest installment of the series takes direct aim at the Apple iPhone, HTC EVO and the Google Nexus One.

Who it's for
The Droid X, which runs Google’s Android operating system, pushes media first and everything else second. With its huge 4.3-inch screen, this phone is for consumers who prioritize movies and games over portability and making phone calls. The phone feels awkward when held up against the ear, and it's clunky when kept in jeans pockets.

The tradeoff for the lack of practicality is the Droid X’s ability to record 720p video, display crisp HD movies and create an almost tablet-computer like browsing experience.

In its push for smart-phone supremacy, Motorola is touting the Droid’s specs, which include an 8-megapixel camera, multitouch keyboard, mobile hot-spot capability, 512 megabytes of RAM and a beefy 1GHz processor.

In fact, the Droid X's numbers are comparable to those of its competitors. In practice, the bump in specs does little to improve the everyday tasks most smart-phone owners use -- for example, checking e-mail, chatting and light browsing.

Media playback
The Droid X’s screen is big enough to watch full-length movies comfortably. Consumers have the option of uploading their own movies via a USB cable, provided the video file is in MPEG format. It comes pre-installed with a Blockbuster app that allows consumers to rent or buy movies to watch on the phone. Movies, however, stream only over Wi-Fi and not 3G, meaning most users would have to be home to watch the movies, defeating the purpose of having cinema on the go.

The screen, although large, tends to have much glare, so watching movies under the fluorescent lighting of the subway or the LIRR could be tough.

Camera
The Droid X's 8-megapixel camera pulls double duty as it takes photo and video. The camera is quick to take photos and features a bright dual-LED flash. Photos are crisp and clear if the user is steady-handed, but quality suffers noticeably if there is movement within the shot or if the photographer has less than statuelike hands.

For movies recorded through the Droid X’s camera, consumers have the option to playback the video through their TV via the mini HDMI port (cable not included).

Games
A demo version of EA’s “Need for Speed Shift” comes preloaded with the Droid X to show off the phone’s ability to play high-resolution games. The graphics and controls are all comfortably responsive. Although the Android market still lags behind the iPhone in terms of games, the Droid X should be able to handle all mobile games being developed for the foreseeable future.

Phone calls
The Droid X has not one but three microphones crammed into it – one for talking and two for noise-canceling. The earphone is loud and clear. The combination of the microphones and earphone gives call clarity to both the both ends of the phone conversation. The downside is the phone’s bulky design, which makes it awkward to hold to one’s ear.

Battery life
Motorola says the Droid X has eight hours of call time and 9.2 days of standby time. The phone was able make it through an entire day with moderate use including text messaging, Google chat, talking, Google maps,and app use. But like all smart phones, it’s still a good idea to keep at least two chargers in different locations.

Overview
The multimedia-rich Droid X is not for everyone. For the hard-core Web surfers, app users, gamers and movie geeks, the latest Droid X could be exactly what you need. But for those who just want to chat, check e-mail and do quick Google searches, the original Droid is cheaper and better.

The Droid X is available through Verizon Wireless for $199.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate and a new contract agreement.
 

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