Made by Taiwan’s HTC Corp., the G1 is being released Oct. 22 by T-Mobile in the U.S. and will cost $179 with a two-year contract. The device, about the size as the iPhone but plumper, will be available in black or bronze. It sports a large touch screen, and the lower smidgen of the device is angled – the curvature seemed more stylistic than functional to me – and sports four buttons and a trackball. Beneath the touch screen is a slide-out QWERTY keyboard that makes the G1 feel like a grownup’s version of another device T-Mobile sells, the Sidekick. The keyboard will appeal to anyone who, like me, still prefers the feel of physical keys rather than virtual ones on the screen (sorry, Apple).
There’s also an adjacent microSD card slot that comes loaded with a 1 gigabyte card. Don’t lose this tiny card, because it’s the storage spot for photos and songs you want to access on the G1. If you want to invest in more space, the G1 supports cards up to 16 gigabytes. From the start, the G1 was easy to use. It includes an intuitive interface and many of Google’s familiar services, like search, Gmail and Google Talk. There’s also Google Maps, which is enhanced by a built-in compass that lets you see locations in the “Street View” feature by moving the phone as you hold it.