For social networking addicts, there’s no better cellphone interface than Motoblur. Motorola’s innovative Android overlay aggregates all your social media accounts, and delivers the latest messages and information updates via what looks like comic book quote balloons conveniently splayed across the phone’s home screen. Previously available only on the Motorola Cliq from T-Mobile, Motoblur now comes to Verizon on the Motorola Devour, a sleek-if-bulky new Android phone encased in luxurious extruded aluminum. Motoblur, matched with a capacious four-line slide-out QWERTY keyboard, makes Devour arguably the easiest way to stay in touch without talking, and offers an overall attractive package of features and functions. But how does Devour match up with Verizon’s other Android phones, the similar Droid and the HTC Eris?
Priced $50 less than the Droid and $80 more than the Eris, Devour suffers when compared to both. Like its Android cousins, Devour accesses Verizon’s 3G EV-DO network, includes Wi-Fi connectivity, and is equipped with the always welcome visual voicemail. The Droid’s value evens out thanks to its included pre-installed 16GB SD card, compared to the Devour’s (and Eris’) pre-installed 8 GB card.
But while the Droid and Eris each offer an excellent 5-megapixel camera, the Devour is equipped with just a 3-megapixel imager that takes inferior bland, pixelated and fuzzy photos. Plus, the Droid includes a flash. The Devour incorporates Bluetooth 2.0 instead of the 2.1 spec on the Droid, and presents a 3.1-inch LCD compared to Droid’s superior 3.7-inch display, and the Eris’ brighter 3.2-inch screen.
The Devour’s bulk and weight are immediately noticeable, making it bigger and as heavy as the Droid. Its silver aluminum design with rubberized black highlights is Klingon-like, and decidedly masculine.
Devour’s one nearly superior faculty is the top dedicated row of numbers on its four-line QWERTY keyboard. Its keys also are slightly more raised and reactive than on the Droid’s, fostering faster typing. But Motorola giveth and Motorola taketh away. Devour’s lone shift and function (symbol) keys are on the right instead of the left, an arrangement only left-handed typers benefit from, slowing down typing for the righty rest of us. The Devour’s @ key, a dedicated key on the Droid, is a Function key inconveniently placed on the W, instead of the 2, as on standard QWERTYs. The Eris, of course, lacks a physical QWERTY.
The Devour’s top-mounted power switch and camera shutter button are also nearly flush with the phone’s surface, making both difficult to quickly locate by feel.
Can a phone serve as a workable PMP?
While its display is not as sharp or bright as the Droid (but then, to be fair, few cellphone screens are) or the Eris, Devour’s LCD is nonetheless colorful, if a bit dim. YouTube videos played in high quality, and most filled the screen. But both Droid and Eris offer a brighter and crisper personal media player experience.
Syncing our test sample with Windows Media Player or via Motorola’s Media Link was hit-or-miss. Frustratingly, mostly miss. And when Devour showed up in WMP, it mysteriously stopped syncing after a dozen or so tracks. This could have been a problem with our test model, but caveat emptor.