I consider myself as a rather conservative cell phone user (heck *any* phone for that matter). Admittedly, the cell phone has become an essential tool in our daily lives, no question about that. It’s just that cell phones as much as they’re essentials, are one of the most abused technologies nowadays. That’s why I sparingly give away my phone number and even more sparingly answer unknown calls.
My monthly cell phone usage profile usually looks like this:
– total of 30 minutes per month of voice conversation,
– an average phone call with me will last about 15 seconds
– send (at most) a handful of SMS messages,
– receiving (undisclosed:) amount of important messages. And these alerts are the main reason I’m constantly carrying “Tamagotchi” with me.
– until recently I didn’t have any need for a regular data exchange over mobile phone (and roaming prices for data usage outside the home country anywhere in EU looks like a robbery to me), so data was not part of my monthly plan with mobile provider.
If you look at my profile you’ll notice that I’m basically using phone more or less as an old fashioned pager. And what about my ownership history?
I bought my first mobile phone in November 1998 (Nokia 5110), which served me well until December 2004, when I replaced the “brick” with the sleek Motorola Razor V3, which was recently replaced with my first “smart phone”, HTC Hero. From the day I first read about the Google plan to enter the smart phone market with the Linux based Android I was waiting for appropriate phone to hit the market and my wait finally paid off.
Before I settled to buy android based phone, I knew what I don’t want to buy: Windows Mobile (because the last thing I need is another Windows based device to fiddle with) and Apple iPhone (because of the corporate attitude towards customers and developers, trying to lock them to their pretty silos, thank you Apple, but I don’t want to rotten there, no matter how much effort you put to prettify your UI.). The only alternative that I saw for the Android was Symbian based phone from Samsung. My search for the right android phone ended when I found many positive reviews on the net and various introduction videos for HTC Hero on the Youtube; so shelling out 580€ for my Hero with 16GB microSD card and a nice leather belt case didn’t hurt too much. :-)
I’m still learning to handle this puppy and every day I discover something new. The Teflon coating of the phone makes a pleasant touch, as opposed to iPhone or some Nokia phones that I had in hand. HTC Sense works flawlessly with HTC Hero multi-touch screen, the user interface is based on widgets and it’s simple and intuitive, with tons of free applications available for the phone. Of course we can find much of the android functionality on other platforms as well. What differentiate android from the crowd is the fact that “hacking spirit” is part of the foundation from day one. Compare that with the boring Windows Mobile, or iPhone for that matter. Not only that it’s fun to use android, it must be fun to develop and hack the phone OS and applications.
At start I was a bit skeptical to give away part of my freedom, after-all I was always proud on my conservative cell phone usage, but after a day or two with my Hero, I was hooked to all the “smart” options that worked for me, not against me. I love the way how easy and well are Gmail, GCalendar and Google talk integrated with the phone. I love the idea that I can easily replace several USB keys with storage on Hero, that I can safely carry around sensitive information thanks to android port of KeePass and free B-Folders, not to mention several free English dictionaries and pdf e-books. Another feature that will come handy is using HTC Hero as USB modem for my Dell laptop. Setting up driver on Windows XP was as easy as:
1) downloaded and installed the latest (2.0.4 at time of this writing) HTC Hero Sync software, see 
2) connected HTC Hero to laptop with USB cable
3) on Hero I opened “Menu”, “Settings”, “Wireless Controls” and turned on “Mobile network sharing”
4) at this point Windows XP recognized and installed new driver that will show as a new NIC, “HTC Remote NDIS based device”
we will be notified about the new connection with impressive speed :)
which is of course speed of the USB 2.0 connected device, not 3G network, and a quick ipconfig will show us:
Tested the connection with my VPN client and RDP session worked decently.
So far I spotted only two weaknesses of this phone:
- daily “feeding” is almost unavoidable, unless you turn off data and work in plain old GSM mode
- WiFi (WPA2) connection to my home based Linksys WRT54GL router is troublesome and unreliable. Based on what I found on the net I’m not alone. HTC will have to patch this puppy.
Overall, I can say that I’m a happy camper so far and I’m really impressed with what HTC delivered. It’ll keep me busy for the next few weeks, which is unusual because most of the time my gadgets come and go in a day or two.
Some useful references that I found on the net so far:
 Android SDK
 Using DDMS to take screenshots from HTC phone (among other things)
 HTC Sync Upgrade for Hero
 Applications for Android
 Testing Android user interface with Live CD
My point precisely…
Jack Wallen nicely nailed the essence of HTC Hero in his recent post at Tech Republic: HTC Hero with Android superior to iPhone.