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DroidX: Lines weren't as long as iPhone, but antenna works
By Anna Marie Kukec | Daily Herald Columnist

Manager Mike Ellingsen demonstrates the newest DroidX phone on sale at the Arlington Heights Verizon store, located at 375 E. Palatine Road.

 

Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

DroidX, the next generation of Motorola's popular Google Android smartphone, launched Thursday with some fanfare at local Verizon Wireless stores.

 

Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

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Published: 7/15/2010 11:21 AM | Updated: 7/15/2010 4:22 PM

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DroidX, the next generation of Motorola's popular Google Android smartphone, launched Thursday with some fanfare at local Verizon Wireless stores.

While the stores didn't have the massive overnight, long lines ala the Apple iPhone, at least the antenna is expected to work.

"DroidX utilizes high performance dual diversity antennas along with innovative software algorithms (software code) to improve signal strength, reduce dropped calls and improve data performance," said Motorola spokeswoman Danielle McNally.

Verizon officials said Thursday that most stores opened at least an hour earlier for those early adapters, and about two hours earlier in the Chicago area. Some stores, such as those in Columbia, Md., and Frisco, Texas, held midnight specials.

"Across the area, people were lined up outside Verizon Wireless communications stores very early in anticipation of being one of the first to get their hands on the DroidX," said Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Carolyn Schamberger. "In many cases our stores opened earlier than scheduled - as early as 7 a.m. - to accommodate customers."

Last month, Motorola announced the sale of DroidX, which features a 1-gigahertz processor, its own Wi-Fi hot spot that can connect up to five devices, as well as a 4.3-inch touch screen display.

Other highlights include 8 gigabytes of memory that's expandable up to 40 gigabytes; 8 megapixel digital zoom camera that can produce panoramic photos; and HDTV, HD-video capture, playback and share. It also includes pre-loaded apps and services such as Skype Mobile, NFL Mobile, VCast, Blockbuster On Demand, Google Maps with Street View, Google Latitude, YouTube widget, Google Search by Voice and Gmail, and Google Search. An optional widget will aggregate updates from Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

The device costs $199.99, including a $100 rebate with a two-year service contract. Talk plans start around $39.99 and a monthly smartphone data plan around $29.99 for unlimited access. There's an additional $20 per month for the Wi-Fi hot spot usage.

Some analysts said Motorola was using the new Droid to fight back against HTC's Incredible and Apple's iPhone4, which will be the subject of a news conference Friday.

Motorola could be lucky to capture a sweet spot in sales as iPhone4 suffers from bad reception and the HTC Incredible has hit a shortage, said Gleacher & Co. analyst Mark McKechnie.

"The lines weren't at the level of the iPhone, but the pre-orders for DroidX have been good," said McKechnie. "To me, the DroidX is another nice improvement over the original Droid and its bigger screen and video capabilities make it closer to a tablet than it does a smartphone."

He said the Android platform has been getting "a good head of steam" with other smartphone makers as well.

"The innovation on the Android side just won't slow down," McKechnie said.

Surfing: Macy's stores nationwide, including the one on State Street in downtown Chicago, will host previews of the Kinect for Xbox 360, a controller-free entertainment experience. The preview will be at Macy's now through Sept. 30. You can test drive the device before it launches on the market on Nov. 4.

• Itasca-based Aircell, a provider of in-flight wireless connectivity, will offer up to one month of free in-flight Wi-Fi data access to owners of the Samsung Vibrant, the Android device from T-Mobile.

• Chicago-based Technomic, a restaurant research firm, said it has found that consumers who are the first to buy the latest technologies, from smartphones to social media apps, are also avid restaurant patrons. A study of 1,000 consumers, about 83 percent of those who were innovators and 72 percent as early adopters ordered from fast food restaurants at least once a week, compared to 56 percent of consumers on average. Also 53 percent and 35 percent of innovators and early adopters, respectively, ordered from fast casual restaurants at least once a week.

• Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.