Geeky Android Post: Cyanogen Mod 7 is a keeper.
Not really a great idea to put the summary first, but if you are one of the few reading this I feel pretty confident you will stick through to the end. I have been running Cyanogen Mod 7 Nightlies on my phone for about three weeks now and am prepared to declare victory. CM7 has all the stability and performance that has been a hallmark of the Cyanogen brand for several releases even though it has not yet reached the status of full release. With the Nightlies on build 31 and the Release Candidate at v3, This is a very mature build based on Gingerbread AOSP. It has many of the features of Gingerbread and lots of goodies that the folks putting the distro together have been so kind as to put together.
Cyanogen is not for everyone. It is not available on 100% of Android devices. Please make sure there is a stable build for your phone before you head down the path. You will also have to root your device before you are able to install it. Rooting is not for everyone, although the process has been simplified to the point that it requires very little technical acumen. HOWEVER, if something happens along the way and you have to recover or you decide to unroot your phone the process tends to require a little more skill and some faith in your skills.
A couple of months ago I had to replace my original Droid due to significant problems with the screen. There were plenty of hot new devices available and coming soon but the form factor and components in the Droid Incredible seemed a very good fit to my needs (as you can see here.) Even with HTC Sense, the phone was very responsive. Sense had a number of features and UI/UX elements I really liked but I have always been a fan of the Android experience as intended by Google. Seems to run a little faster, crash a little less, and provide an excellent experience.
CM7 is, at least for now, the pinnacle of the Gingerbread experience for me. It stays very close to the roots of Stock Android with a few extras. The standard launcher in CM7 is ADW but I have always been a Launcher Pro fan. I like the calendar widget and the dock enough to make that the default most of the time. CM7 also has a number of custom animations for screen transitions and some slick appearance settings if you like to customize. It is easily theme-able and has a huge developer/user base constantly providing snippets of their own experience here and there.,
There is certainly some downside. There are the occasional problems with the Nightly builds that will kill a feature or cause repeated Force Closes. These are rare but they definitely happen. You will also run into scenarios where new applications or new versions of applications are pretty unstable and see mediocre performance or stability. Caveat Emptor.
I am extremely happy with the phone/ROM combination I am using now but I have to admit, the replacement for the Droid Incredible that is on the near horizon is very tempting. I strongly believe 4” screens are the sweet spot for most Android users. Some will prefer the slightly smaller screens, some will want 4.3” or even 5” but if you are going to carry it in your pocket and use it as a phone I think 4” will win out. That alone may be enough for me to make the switch when the Incredible 2 (or Incredible S, we will have to wait and see) hits the market, likely in April on Verizon.