Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The iPhone Experience (Part 1)

Hey Adoring Readers!

Aside from making up overstatements to greet you with, I have been busy procuring an iPhone.  In fact, I have one docked next to my laptop.  Despite the frequent mentions of mighty Apple, Inc, I'm not really an Apple fanboy, but more of a tech enthusiast who can appreciate a nice form factor.  After feeling the need for a convergence device for just about forever, I have finally caved and selected the 8GB iPhone. 

I'll come right out and say that the $200 price drop totally sucked me in and it was only one week later that I went into the Apple store and got one.  I'm NOT impressed at all with the purchasing experience in a busy Apple store.  There is a small checkout counter with a long line and the occasional salesperson who may be able to sell you a product you've yet to get your hands on....if you're paying the correct way....otherwise you must stand in line.  The words "confusing" and "madhouse" come to mind.  Weird sales experience aside, the box-opening was very nice, as with all Apple products, and everything for set-up and activation was fairly straightforward.  It was nice doing everything through iTunes and syncing with the iPhone is actually easier than syncing with a normal iPod, since an iPod has to go through the trouble of mounting a the same time that iTunes wants its attention.  I did find the new dock a bit tricky, though, as the iPhone kept losing the connection and reconnecting.  This has stopped happening so I assume the plug was having trouble connecting up fully the first few times.

I've had about a two complete days with my new phone/iPod/PDA and I have to say I am almost completely satisfied.  All of the apps work as advertised, the camera looks great, the videos from YouTube play very cleanly, and the setting are pretty darn clear.  The phone is nice, but then again, I had a free phone before that had pretty bad call quality.  The iPod function is by far the best feature.  Built-in coverflow is nice looking, but doesn't add much value to the interface.  The regular interface for the iPod screen is very nice though and almost fully lives up to its predicessor.  One complaint that I have is that when the iPod is playing and you need to pause, it can be a pain because whenever the screen sleeps it needs to first be unlocked before the pause can be pressed.  This takes more time than I like and I wish they had added a play/pause button on the side or something (this way it would mirror the iPod's functionality when the user cannot see the screen but can touch the wheel).

Finally, the web browser.  Safari is not my favorite browser on a PC, but on the iPhone it is very well suited.  The "tabs" feature that lets you switch windows works very well and the same can be said for the bookmarks.  I have been using AppMarks, an Ajax application for the iPhone which acts as a homepage and can take you to any number of the new and innovated applications being developed for the iPhone.  After only a little bit of time I had some trouble with the app, but when I contacted the developers, they replied quickly and solved all my problems post haste.  There is now way to set a homepage (yet), but I hope that feature is next on Apple's short list.

This is only part 1 of my review of the iPhone.  It has impressed me so far, but I plan to write another one of these after some time has passed and I've discovered all of its hidden features (or stubbed my toe on its hidden flaws).  Till then, enjoy your iPhone (or lack thereof)!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Apple Update Roll-Out

On September 5th, Apple, Inc. had their first interesting announcement in a while (unless iWork and iLife get you all riled up).  They unveiled the latest mutation of their growing iPod family...with 5 different devices.  I'm just gonna run down the info, because you have better things to do than listen to play-by-play analysis of everything Apple makes:

  • The iPod Shuffle now comes in red, as a part of their charitable line-up (scroll down after the jump).  It also comes in very pastel colors now.
  • The iPod Nano got the biggest face-lift (or drop), as the shape was made into more of a square with a larger, video screen and a pretty amazing thinness.  It comes in 8 and 16 GB sizes, though 8 GB model only comes in silver.  It seems to have basically the same software features of the old Video iPod.
  • I say "old" Video iPod because the thing that was called that is now the iPod Classic.  Basically, this is your iPod that you grew up loving, it just has video and a nice metal coat (like the Nano).  The primary use of this iPod is the fact that it can store either 80GB or 160GB, which is the largest capacity to date for an iPod.  Those who have complained that even the largest iPod is too small for their portable library now have a solution.  While one might argue that this is good for video lovers, the screen size is still pretty puny compared to....
  • ...The iPod Touch!   Yes, Apple has taken the iPhone, stripped out the phone portion, doubled the HD size and released their new creation to the public.  It has WiFi and Safari so it can still browse the web, but it doesn't have any of the smartphone-type features. 
  • Also, both the iPod Touch and the iPhone will have a new "buy iTunes stuff over WiFi" feature after the next firmware update (within the month, I believe).  The media people seem to be pretty excited about this, but I've never been convinced that mobile content is really what the public hungers for (I know I don't).
  • And finally the cheaper now.  Yes, the nasty 500/600 dollar price that was so harshly critisized by the tech community has been dropped 200 dollars.  This drastic cut to $299 for the 4GB and $399 for the 8GB models was very smart in my mind.  Even though a lot of early adopters/cult members will be angry about paying too much for the product, the higher price created a sense of value for the iPhone that is now much higher than the sale price.  In my humble opinion, I think the iPhone will do extremely well in the next two seasons, as people begin to shop for the holidays and as the Apple line-up's refresh attracts new attention. 
  • Sad iPhone owners, fear not!  If you just bought one, just return it and buy it at the cheaper price.  If you bought it when it just came out, Mad-Dog Steve Jobs has issued a statement that you are all to receive $100 store credits toward anything at the Apple Store.  This presumably will work for the iTunes store too, as you could just buy an iTunes gift card at the store.  While this doesn't totally make up for the massive price drop, it will certainly soften the blow for Apple's most aggressive buyers. 
Wow, so a lot of crazy stuff.  There are a few things like overpriced ringtones and a partnership with Starbucks, but I say a big "meh" to both of those.  Also, where are The Beatles you ask?  Not on the iTunes Store.  It seems that Apple, Inc. and Apple Corp. are still working out their differences (or waiting for the next big release in October).  Yes, that's right, there is another announcement coming in October...the release of Leopard and Office '08.  This is going to be an exciting holiday season for Apple.

Oh...I'm totally gonna be getting an iPhone now, so obviously the price drop hooked me in!

Engadget live-blogged the whole thing
It's all for real on the Apple Store

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The content of this page is completely the creation and opinion of James Rogers. He is affiliated with Connect Mason and formerly Broadside Online but the relationship only governs republication, not content.

Further, in the interest of full disclosure, this author holds minor financial investments in Apple, Inc. and Advanced Micro Devices.