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Review: HTC G1

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Menus Calls/Contacts Messaging  


Okay, look. Android is new. We could spend all day here, because, in effect, the menu system is the operating system, and new operating systems deserve some serious text. But I am going to keep things as simple as possible and will try not to be verbose.

A few things to keep in mind. You have to have a Google account to use the G1. It is not negotiable, it is required. When you first boot the device, you have to sign into your account. It will then automatically configure your Gmail, your Gmail contacts and other Google services. There is no hard syncing directly to a PC. It must be done via T-Mobile's network. This can take a while, depending on how extensive your inbox and contacts lists are.

Once that process is complete, you're in!

Pressing the menu key (just above the trackball) twice unlocks the phone. You have a basic home screen that holds a large analog clock at the top, an icon for T-Mobile's MyFaves, and four main application icons for the Dialer, Contacts, Browser and Maps. There are two additional home pages that you can get to if you swipe the screen to the left or to the right. Any of these three screens can be populated with pretty much whatever applications, shortcuts, games, etc., that you want.

There is a little dock at the very bottom of the G1's screen. Swipe it up and the entire main menu will appear. This is where you'll find pretty much everything you need to use and control the G1. All the basics are here.

Tapping into the Settings menu, Android ditches icons in favor of a simple list of adjustments to make. Each has a pull-down arrow that opens up a folder with the choices for that menu selection. Most of these make sense and it is quick to figure everything out.

Android is not nearly as dense — at least on the surface — as Windows Mobile or Symbian S60 or BlackBerry OS. It feels more like a feature-phone operating system, but we know it is capable of a lot more than basic calling functions.

One thing I really like is that Google has built a Google searchbar (big surprise) right into the home screen of Android. I've really come to rely on having the power of Google search in my pocket over the last 15 months, and the G1 makes it as easy as possible to launch a search right from the phone's desktop.

Lastly, there is a notification bar that runs along the top. Any time you get a new email or other notification, it will sit up there. From any screen on the phone, you can swipe down from that notification bar and it will show you any missed calls, and what unread messages you have.

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