I went with a much maligned Motorola Cliq XT, mostly because it was cheap, small, and fairly rugged. That is my preference for cell phones over the years. A lot of folks complained about Motoblur but it really isn't that bad. Realistically you don't have to even use it. Delete the bubbles off your home desktop and you really won't know it is there.
The Cliq XT It is not perfect but hey it is just a phone! Plus I'm chained to my BlackBerry so it doesn't really matter if it reboots while I'm on a call. Someone can get ahold of me on that. Yeah I know it is still Android 1.5, but I don't care. In terms of usability for non-email tasks it is such an improvement over my BlackBerry. I also like the fact of having two different carriers. I had no issue with Sprint but their upgrade prices were awful and I got free activation from T-Mobile.
(Pro tip: if you are unfortunate to work in a large company at least check for their corporate discounts with cell providers. Not only do you save money but you get better service when you call in.)
So what are my favorite apps?
Seesmic. That is a no brainer. No ads. Works for high volume account. I tried the "Happenings" app for my low volume account. Forget about it.
Opera Mini - I really haven't given the built-in browser a chance. Haven't wanted to.
Easy Tether -- I really only use this as a backup but it works on Ubuntu 10.04 and Windows without issue. I did manage to do an adb shell, but never got the SOCKS proxy working.
Some Battery Widget on my desktop that allows me to toggle GPS/Wifi.
Connect Bot -- I still haven't generated public keys, but it is more useful than you would think. Still haven't figured out how to do a CTRL-C, so unless you know how, don't use "top"
Pandora -- everybody know what Pandora is. I use this to help put my toddler to sleep. Try the "Lucinda Williams" channel it works, although makes you miss Texas.
Android System Information - this barely makes the cut but at least I haven't deleted it.
Advanced Task Killer Free - I really haven't touch this much, but I think it is doing something?