Saturday, January 22, 2011

Droid X: real-life review by Spanish-speaking family

Droid X

We got our hands on a Droid X for use on Verizon for a couple of weeks, and we used it and tested it with this review in mind. We asked ourselves, what would the typical reader want to know about the phone? Spanish-language features came to mind, but not all of you (and not all of the Hispanic consume market) speak Spanish as either a first or second language. Still, you're more likely to want to navigate through a phone in Spanish or know someone else who wants to. You're also more likely to need to translate something to or from Spanish. This phone can help you with that. So a lot of the review below has to do with Spanish. If you're not interested in those features, you can skip to the end of the review, where we talk about a couple of apps and the phone in general.

Keep in mind that these are off-the-cuff impressions, from the perspective of a family that Speaks Spanish, already owns and uses an original model Droid, and already uses Verizon.

The review is broken into four categories:
  1. System-wide Spanish-language features
  2. Apps with Spanish-language capabilities
  3. Apps in general
  4. The phone in general
System-wide Spanish-language features:
  • Once you've gone into settings and changed the overall system language from English to Spanish, you can input speech and text only in Spanish. If you speak or write in English, it will not understand you, or it will correct what you've input and substitute a similarly-spelled word in Spanish.
  • You can't give voice commands to the phone in Spanish (as you can in English) to send a text message or compose an e-mail to a specific person, but once you are in the e-mail app, in the texting app, or in the Google app, the phone will transcribe your speech with about 80% accuracy. You do have to speak in a Spanish that is fairly enunciated and neutral.
  • Google Search will be 100% in Spanish.
  • If you write with the physical keyboard (letter by letter, not using Swype), spellcheck will not kick in. Swype, on the other hand, will correct your spelling.
  • You have the option of changing the voice mail prompts completely over to Spanish, which is pretty good.
Apps with Spanish-language capabilities
  • Verizon Navigator also has the option of being completely in Spanish. The Spanish it uses is very good; you can understand it pretty well and all of the options that it gives you, like finding the lowest-priced gas station nearby, or food, etc. is incredibly good. I would pay for this feature.
  • The Spanish-language movie and video selection in VCast is pretty slim in my opinion, and the movies are not very good.
  • One of the most interesting apps for those of us who speak other languages is "Talk to Me" - an instant translator in which you can write - or even speak - a word in Spanish, and it will translate it into English (85% accuracy) and it will pronounce it for you as well. Other languages are available.
Apps in general
  • Skype is a good app for those of us who need to make international calls. It's cheap, and on this phone the call quality was 90% better than the call quality on my desktop computer.
  • Quick Office is a must-have.
The phone in general
  • It is pretty big but also very thin, so it's not much of an issue.
  • Another one of the interesting features is that you can choose some of your contacts to put on one of the five main screens and you will have instant access to their phone number, e-mail, Facebook profile, etc. - without the need to look for them in your contacts.
  • You can also program custom emergency numbers, so that when you turn your phone on (even without entering your password) you will have the option to make an emergency call or dial one of your emergency numbers, which is very good in case you are ever incapacitated and the first responders need to call someone who knows you.
  • Web sites come up very well…it's pretty fast, I think that must be due to Adobe Flash Player 10.1. I didn't have any problems looking at Chilean newspaper sites and
For the curious: We got our hands on the Droid X through a Verizon Wireless PR rep. I'm sure it was exactly the same kind of exchange that happens between David Pogue of the New York Times and PR reps at tech companies, except that somewhere in that back-and-forth the Times sends David a check. (Note to David: didn't you just write a column or shoot a video about how your review process goes? I can't find it anywhere.)

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