Every couple years I buy a consumer product that I think will be good, but turns out to be so great as to be almost embarrassing. The most recent example was buying my first DVR (e.g., TIVO). I thought it would be a cool alternative to a VCR, and pausing live TV would be “convenient.” It was so great, and so useful that even my gadget-averse family agreed that it was wonderful. In Maslow’s pyramid of needs, it isn’t down there with food and shelter, but it s at a more important level than, say, “self-actualization.”
I call this phenomenon YOWZAs. My newest YOWZA is the iPhone. I bought it because I wanted to see if Silverlight will run on its browser, and because it is cool, and because I use my telephone, pda and iPod every day and the idea of combining them into one device was very appealing.
Background: I have been using a Treo for over a year. I like the treo, though I don’t love it. The browser is only barely usable, the keyboard is barely usable (one feature they despeaately need is a switch to turn of key-repeat) but much of it is great. For some reason, however, my Treo likes to go back to “Time Set” after every call, which I’m sure I could fix if I took the time to figure it out.
The iPhone is, however: the best PDA I’ve ever had, the best iPod I’ve ever had and (nearly) the best phone I’ve ever had. The more I use it the more I love it.
I bought mine the morning after release (thereby avoiding the 4 hour wait and walking right up to the counter. In and out of the store in 5 minutes). Apple did such a good job on the hype that during the 30 second walk to my car a total strange looked at the bag and said “Congratulations.”
Setting it all up, registering it and getting my new cell number; soup to nuts took under 10 minutes. Thanks to Grand Central , the fact that I have a new cell number is invisible to my contacts so that was painless.
I won’t run through all the features (Apple does a good job on their site) but I will say that the on-board keyboard is far better than the physical keyboard offered on the Treo; and the self-correcting software is fantastic. If I mistype the word evetytjing (two typos) it offers the word everything - pressing space puts the right spelling in. Once you trust that it will get it right (which it does about 98% of the time in my experience, you can type very fast. The question of whether it is a problem not having a physical keyboard is more than answered: no problem.
The iPod features are better than on my 8Gig Nano and the sound is considerably better. Navigation is better, faster, easier. The camera is the best phone camera I’ve ever seen, as is the integration of camera and email.
Email is by far the best I’ve seen on a phone, with full graphics, links, etc. Truly impressive. I do wish they had more organization (storage folders, etc.) but I assume that will be in the next version, and it isn’t a p;roblem as I do all that on the desktop; on the iPhone I read and toss.
The only big downside to the phone is the lack of voice-recognition; but that is a crippling problem. I use my cell in the car a lot, and “favorites” or no; without voice-recognition each call means pulling over to the side of the road, rather than just saying “Call Seth Mobile.” They have to fix that.
As for cost, while he $600 initial price is steep, the monthly cost is very reasonable; in fact by removing the unlimited data charges from my treo, I was able to pay for my entire AT&T inividual plan (with unlimited data) and pick up 500+ minutes/month with little additional monthly cost. The only problem is that my Cingular iPhone is no longer “in network” with my family’s other phones; such is life.
All in all, this is a great phone, a very good camera, a great iPod, a truly great pda, and one of the best consumer items to come along in a very long time.