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Review: HTC G1

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Android's default web browser is based on Webkit and can render full HTML web sites, although it is not a version of Google's separate Chrome browser project for desktop PCs. Too bad surfing speeds are such a let down.

Most web sites take close to a minute to load via T-Mobile's 3G network. That's ridiculous. I am not talking about Flash-heavy sites, I am talking about Google, about Phone Scoop, about CNN, about the NYTimes. I don't know if it is the browser, the device, or the network, but speeds were bad. It is so bad, that it was barely worth using for mobile Internet tasks. You're much better off using Wi-Fi.

The browser itself, though, is very capable and looks fantastic on the G1's screen. You can use your finger to navigate around screens, or use the trackball to zoom through them. You can zoom in and out, and perform basic browsing with the phone in the portrait orientation. If you need to type in URLs, you're going to have to rotate the phone and open it up.

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A quick press of the menu key opens up a dock with most of the navigation items you expect, such as Go To URL, Search, Bookmarks, and more. There is a full list of settings that let you customize how the browser operates (such as enabling / disabling JavaScript, managing passwords and privacy and more). The options are quite extensive.

(Note: I tested a Sony Ericsson TM506 from my house, and its Web browsing speeds were blazing fast over T-Mobile's 3G network.)

 

Customize

You can customize the G1 about as much as you can customize any feature phone. Wallpapers and ringtones are easily altered. You can rearrange all the menu items, clutter up the home screen with icons and more. What you can't do is change the basic theme of the G1, such as the color combinations of the menus and screens.

There are pretty robust ways to control the security of the device, how applications are managed, how the microSD slot is managed, how data is synchronized, how location information is reported and on and on. My favorite feature is the "require pattern" password. You can set a password to unlock the device that is not a password, but a pattern ou trace on your phone. For example, a capital letter "G" in one motion. Draw that, and the phone unlocks.

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