One message from this list: It is hard, in a crowded marketplace, for any one smart phone to stand out from all the other sleek, flat handhelds. But the Droid does a couple of tricks that its competitors don't.
Ever use Google maps? Ever use a GPS to get directions on the road? Ever wish you could talk to the thing, instead of pressing tiny keys to give it the address you want?
Using Google's Android 2.0 software, the Droid combines these things. (The iPhone offers navigation took but this is more powerful.) We mounted a Droid on the dashboard of a car, got in, and tried it.
"Navigate to Museum of Natural History, New York," I said. The Droid gave a brief "please wait" signal, then announced with a pinging sound that it had found "American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79 St., New York, N.Y. 10024."
From there, it acted like any new GPS unit, with a synthetic voice giving me turn-by-turn directions: "In 500 feet, turn left at Seventy-Two Street."
Of course, you could buy a good GPS from Garmin or TomTom for prices similar to what you'd spend on the Droid -- but they don't include phones, browsers, cameras and the rest. The day Google announced this feature, Garmin stock dropped from 37 to 31 on the Nasdaq. (Garmin is offering its own navigating phone.)
Double-parked in front of the museum, we tried playing a bit more with the voice-recognition feature, on which Google has been spending a lot of effort. Don't want to type in the terms for a Google search? Talking is faster.
"Search for 'Ned Potter, ABC News, New York,'" I said, and in a second the screen displayed "ned potter a b c news new york," along with a page of stories I'd done for ABC.
Naturally, when I tried it again, it found "net pottery b c news newark."
You may love the Droid. If you don't, you can ask it for directions to the nearest Apple Store.