Review Index:

Motorola Droid X on Verizon Wireless Review - 4.3-in of Power

Author: Ken Addison
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Motorola

NinjaBlur and You

While the Original Droid ran a vanilla version of Android 2.0, Motorola has since been developing it’s own skins to run on top of Android. For phones such as the Motorola Cliq on T-Mobile, Motorola created what they called MOTOBLUR, which was a skin that ran on top of Android that would get pushed updates for things such as social networks from Motorola’s cloud based service.

However, with the Droid X, Motorola has implemented what some people are calling NinjaBlur. Basically, it is in the same spirit as HTC Sense. Motorola has provided custom UI tweaks and widgets which they think enhance the usability of the phone. While the engineers at Motorola may think their additions are wonderful, I do not. After having used several different Android skins, I actually find this “NinjaBlur” to be one of the worst. The widgets it does add seem to be relatively useless, and overall pretty intrusive. Also, performance and battery life see to take a hit if your device is loaded with a ton of widgets. Blur also adds the ability to integrate Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites into your phone. This however, is useless as the official Twitter and Facebook clients are miles better, and the Blur option crams your contact list full of stuff that you probably don’t want.

One thing that Motorola has really done well here though, is the multitouch onscreen keyboard. I have had major issues with every other Android phone and trying to use the default Android portrait style keyboard. The Motorola implementation has made my typing more accurate, and faster. Motorola also provides the Swype keyboard preinstalled, which is actually a great input method, and greatly enhances the options for end users.

Another nice feature is the 3G Mobile Hotspot application that Verizon is pushing with their latest smartphones. It allows your phone to instantly turn into a WiFi hotspot, and allow your WiFi only devices to share the 3G connection from your phone.

What I would really like to see here is Google mandating the option to drop down to a vanilla Android install to improve performance and give power users greater choice.

Good news though is that Motorola has pledged an upgrade to Android 2.2 (Froyo) by the end of the Summer. Since Froyo is said to greatly improve speed and performance, it will be an interesting update if Motorola can push it out soon. In contrast, HTC is only promising an update by the end of the year for their phones with HTC Sense.

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