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09:40 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren

Google Nexus One: First Impressions

During CES I had a chance to spend some time with Google's "super phone." Does the device even come close to living up to all the hype? Sort of. The hardware is fantastic, but there's not enough of a leap forward in usability to call it a "super phone."

During CES I had a chance to spend some time with Google's "super phone." Does the device even come close to living up to all the hype? Sort of. The hardware is fantastic, but there's not enough of a leap forward in usability to call it a "super phone."I have to give some credit to HTC, which manufactured the Google Nexus One. It truly is the company's best effort at an Android device. Everything about the Nexus One is attractive. The lines, contours, display, and overall weight and feel of the device are spot on. It is comfortable to hold in your hand, as it is extremely thin and light. HTC told me that the Nexus One's chasis is made from a single piece of milled aluminum. This gives the device incredible strength and rigidity.

The display is simply fantastic. It is an iPhone-trouncing 3.7-inches WVGA AMOLED touch screen that packs in 800 x 480 pixels. It's not quite as stunning as the Motorola Droid's display, but only be a hair's breadth. It is bright, colorful, and 3.7-inches is enough of a boost in size to make it feel cinematic.

Perhaps the hardware's sole misstep is the functionality of the four capacitive touch keys just below the screen. The sensors under the buttons appear to be placed too far up. This means if you press the bottom half of the button, you're likely to miss the sensor.

Like many of today's Android devices, the Nexus One has a 5 megapixel camera. Taken by itself, this spec is neat, but there's one killer feature the Nexus One has that makes this one of the first really usable cameras on an Android device -- the 1GHz SnapDragon processor. The Nexus One takes pictures faster than any other Android device I've tested. In fact, it shoots pictures faster than my stand-alone point-and-shoot camera. It's amazingly fast.

Of course, one of the other major changes present on the Nexus One is Android version 2.1. The hallmark feature of this Android update is that it allows for animated wallpapers. The stock wallpaper found on the Nexus One is pretty cool, and Google has indicated that other animated wallpapers will become available over time. Another change is the way the main menu is accessed. On all Android devices to-date, the main menu is pulled up from the bottom of the screen by swiping up and closed by swiping down. On the Nexus One, users press a software home button (very similar to the iPhone's) and that will open the main menu. The Nexus One has five customizable home screens.

These are nice, visually appealing updates to Android, but are hardly significant enough to warrant calling the Nexus One a "super phone." I think the moniker Google has chosen is a bit self-aggrandizing.

These quips aside, the Nexus One rivals the Motorola Droid as the premier Android device of the moment. You can watch a video tour of the Nexus One that compares it to the iPhone and Droid in the video embedded below.

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