Review: Evolution of the Motorola Droid X(2) for the power user

X22.jpgAfter reviewing many Android handsets, the Motorola DROID X continues to stand out as my favorite for serving up quick images and videos as a multi-platform journalist.

A front facing microphone (three mics), the physical shutter key that allows you to control auto-focus at face level as well as over the head. An excellent built-in panorama stitching feature. The 8 MP image sensor produces a consistent, neutral photo with plenty of room for pixel zooming.

The biggest changes for the X2 is a new dual-core processor, a higher resolution screen, and removal of the physical shutter button.

The dual core processor speeds things up. See video above to see how the two phones process a Flash intensive homepage. I have set the user agent of Dolphin browser to the experience what you would see on a home desktop.

Although this isn’t a 4G phone, you soon realize that the speed the device processes information gives you more speed with the same bandwidth. Pages load faster. Apps install faster. A weather radar map compiles faster.

HD videos process faster which may help the occasional multi-tasking glitches that occur on the Droid X while shooting HD video. (I switch to airplane mode when I am shooting video, it stops notifications from randomly sounding into the mic and the phone from updating.) I never noticed a processing status bar between shooting HD clips with the DROID X2

My video archive using the Motorola DROID X and X2

I didn’t notice the battery degrading any faster on the X2 than on the DROID X.

Physical shutter button is gone!: I wish I could have been in the meeting at Motorola that decided to pull the mechanical shutter button. What were you thinking?

The market is full of touch screen shutter buttons and horrible cell phone photos. They are awkward to use, less versatile, often cause the camera to shake in low light situations and don’t allow you to lock the auto-focus in a given position before shooting.

A physical button perpendicular to the touchscreen allows you to better control the shutter in awkward positions, like over your head and around blind corners. It’s better at keeping the camera steady. (Clicking buttons next to the face of the touchscreen don’t count)

The absence is a big step backward in usability. A physical button perpendicular to the touchscreen should be a given on any smartphone design that targets professionals.

There is a new continuous focus mode that helps deal the lack of ability to control focus on the fly.

Screen: The DROID X2 is running a qHD 4.3-inch panel running at 960 x 540 resolution, versus the 854 x 480 of the DROID X. It’s brighter and a slightly cooler color temperature than the original X. The contrast is higher.

Of note: The fonts appear slightly smaller (thinner) on the X2 and I found harder to read than the lower resolution screen on the X. The new qHD screen seems to subtract more from the X2 than it adds. The images have more contrast, but are less neutral and realistic for people who want to know how a picture is going to look on their desktop. I would happily trade the qHD for the old screen and keep the mechanical shutter button.

I look forward to these faster processors appearing in more phones. It adds as much to the user experience as faster bandwidth.

About Paul Kuehnel

Paul Kuehnel has worked for the York Daily Record/Sunday News since 1984. Follow him on Twitter @paulkuehnel.
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