HTC Dream - Of Androids and Electric Sheep


Performance

Electric Dreams

Way before we procured the unit, word on the streets (read: Internet) was that the HTC Dream (or G1, as they call it) fares badly in terms of battery mileage. Sadly, that turned out to be very true. In less than a day, we managed to bring a full charge to near zero.

To give a more accurate estimate, we subjected it to our usual battery test. Unfortunately, a little complication arose due to the fact that the existing video player application doesn't have a loop function. As such, we adapted accordingly and utilized a full length feature film of at least 3 hours to test the Dream's battery. Taking note of that, we converted the video to an MP4 H.264 file, at a resolution of 480 x 260 and playing at an FPS of 24.

To ensure that there's no background application running, we did a quick reset of the device. With that, we let the Dream run through the video at full brightness, with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on and volume at 100% with earphones plugged in to determine its battery mileage.

Specifications/Device HTC Dream HTC Touch 3G ASUS P552W
Processor
  • Qualcomm MSM7201A 528MHz
  • Qualcomm MSM7225 528MHz processor
  • Marvell Tavor 624MHz processor
Memory
  • 192MB RAM
  • 256MB ROM
  • 192MB RAM
  • 256MB ROM
  • 128MB RAM
  • 256MB ROM
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
  • Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR
  • HSDPA
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
  • Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR
  • HSDPA
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
  • Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR
  • HSDPA
  • GPS with A-GPS
Dimensions
  • 117.7 x 55.7 x 17.1mm
  • 102 x 53.6 x 14.5 mm
  • 102 x 60.5 x 14.5 mm
Weight
  • 158g
  • 96g
  • 105g
Screen size
  • 3.2-inch, 320 x 480 pixels,
  • 2.8-inch, 240 x 320 pixels
  • 2.8-inch, 240 x 320 pixels
Battery
  • Li-Ion 1150 mAh
  • Li-Ion 1100 mAh
  • Li-Ion 1100 mAh

As you can see in the comparison chart above, the Dream underperforms in the stamina department. Having a similar capacity to the ASUS P552W, it actually fell short by at least 20 minutes for the video playback. Nonetheless, for a device powered by a battery above 1000mAh in specification, the Dream still did decently at up to slightly above 2 hours.

Consider the fact that the Dream utilizes a HVGA screen that can bring its performance level down slightly a notch (compared to both the Touch 3G and the ASUS P552W which is on QVGA screen) and you might understand the sharp dip in its power resources. This will also affect its portability index, seeing as how the lower battery life, coupled with the slightly thicker dimensions, will push the Dream's ratio much lower than other devices.

When it comes to normal usage, we did mention that it'll last for nearly a day before putting itself to rest. Beyond the HVGA screen being a power guzzler, there are also a few other factors to take note of. Applications are constantly running in the background, which takes its toll on the Qualcomm processor.

In short, the more applications you flip through, the more likely you'll find the Dream dying on you much faster. We were just as guilty of this when we battered the device with a barrage of downloads from the Android Market or surfing the web using the HSDPA network. Whilst we didn't fully utilize the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity options, it still didn't bode well that the device couldn't survive for more than a day.

However, during its short-lived usage, we were pleasantly surprised by a few things. Video playback on the Dream is, for the lack of a better word, a dream. We were impressed by the level of contrast on the screen which brought out the colors of the video clips. There wasn't any discernible frame losses during the video playback either, which is very commendable. Audio-wise, we'll place it amongst one of the more decent devices out there. It won't be on the same level as the B&O Serenata or LG's Renoir in the audio department, but it was amply juiced up on the lows and mids.

Nothing's always perfect though. Even with its strong delivery on the audio and video aspect, the Dream's 3.2-megapixel camera kind of shortchanged itself. Earlier on, we did mention the difficulty in half-pressing the camera button to perform an auto-focus. To bring this further, auto-focusing takes quite a fair bit of time (up to 3 seconds) and is equally lengthy when it comes to image processing.

But if you were to look beyond this point, the color reproduction came out pretty well, though noise levels tended to be a bit high. We also observed a fine level of detail for a camera of its caliber, as seen in one of our test shots.