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    beachtrader's Avatar
    iPhone Beginner

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    Default Krackow's MSNBC Review of iPhone

    Not much new other than he is reporting 36 hours of battery use before it went dead (no iPod usage)


    So you donít have to peek at the end of this review Iím going to tell you what I really think: iPhone is fabulous. Iím not saying itís perfect, but its interface Ė they way you control the device is truly revolutionary.

    The iPhone is thin Ė but not small. It measures 4.5 by 2.4 by 0.5 inches and it weighs 4.8 ounces. In your hand, it feels a little heavier than it looks Ė and it looks like someone took an old-fashioned smartphone and flattened it out under a steamroller.

    iPhones have a very cool little mechanical device inside called an accelerometer. It senses when you tilt your iPhone sideways Ė and then automatically changes the picture on the screen from vertical to horizontal. When youíre looking at a Website, photo or video you can turn iPhone sideways and see a much larger picture. The iPhone is not the only smartphone to have this feature: Sidekickís screen does a 180-degree turn when you open its keyboard.

    Inside thereís a four-band GSM world phone, EDGE data capabilities, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth Ė pretty standard fare for a modern-day smartphone. It sports a very large 3.5-inch diagonal screen.

    Getting started
    One thing which sets the iPhone apart from any other cell phone is the way you activate the device. Itís all done online.

    There are buyers whoíve had problems activating their new iPhones online but luckily I did not. It took me less than 15 minutes to download the latest version of iTunes (which handles all iPhone-to-computer connections), plug handset into a USB port, input my credit card information then have the phone wirelessly, seemingly magically, activated by AT&T. Youíre given the choice of keeping your current number or you can receive a totally cell phone number.

    During the initial activation process, iPhone synched my Microsoft Outlook phonebook and calendar settings. It was nice to pick-up the device for the first time and see my personal phone book and appointment calendar installed on my device.

    Figuring out how to work an iPhone is, in a word, easy Ė you donít really need to look at the instructions to know how to use an iPhone. Everyone who has tried using my iPhone Ė about a dozen people or so - has been able to figure out how to navigate the interface without asking even a single question. That alone is worth the price of admission.

    There is a Home button just beneath the screen. That will always bring you back to the iPhoneís home screen. There are volume control buttons on the left side Ė and an on-off switch on the top Ė otherwise everything else is controlled by pressing icons on the screen.

    Web browser
    You just have to open the Safari Web browser and browse to your favorite Website to be amazed. The browser lets you navigate up, down and around the page just by using your finger. Want to zoom in? Double-tap the screen. Want to navigate up or down the page? Just drag your finger up and down the screen. It takes longer to describe how to do it than to actually using the device.

    Overall, I found that the browser does a very good job of handling most Web pages. I was surprised though to find that Safari could not handle video content on the New York Times Website, since Apple uses the Timesí Website in their TV commercials. Safari says you need a Flash plug-in and when you try to download it iPhone stops you from doing so. Out of the box, iPhone is able to handle videos from iTunes and YouTube (see below).

    You canít discuss Web browsing without talking about the wireless connection to the Internet. If youíre indoors, iPhone prompts you to connect to any nearby Wi-Fi access point. When you do, iPhone handles online tasks with aplomb. Safari was quite speedy on a number of Wi-Fi connections that I tried it with.

    However, if you canít connect to Wi-Fi youíre stuck with iPhoneís EDGE network connection. This is not a great experience. iPhoneís EDGE radios are not fast. I know that EDGE technology uses less battery power than new 3G connections but Apple values battery life over ultimate speed. Browsing on an iPhone without Wi-Fi is not a very rewarding experience. Blackberry EDGE connections are much faster.

    E-mail and messaging
    After spending the weekend with my newly purchased 4GB iPhone, I can highly recommend it to everyone in the market for a smartphone. But POP3 and IMAP email is usually not what big businesses use to send email. For users who need business-quality access to corporate e-mail Ė such as Microsoft Exchange mail, I still recommend Microsoft Windows Mobile devices, like T-Mobileís superlative Dash, still work best. Since the iPhone already synchs with Outlook for your calendar and contacts, Iím hoping Apple will soon release a way to get Exchange e-mail too.

    Out of the box, iPhone handles SMS messaging as well as POP3 and IMAP email. Itís easy to set-up a Google, Yahoo or .Mac account. You have to input server information for other Internet providers. Sending and receiving e-mail is straightforward and easy Ė even though you have to deal with the on-screen keyboard.

    iPhoneís on-screen keyboard is the best that Iíve ever tested. But, sadly itís not even close to perfect. I find that for me itís easy to make lots of mistake when typing on tiny keys. Thatís true whether theyíre software or actual keys. Smart software typing programs which attempt to figure out what words I want to type actually slowed me down more than erasing my mistakes and typing in the right letters.

    Audio, video
    First and foremost, the iPhone is an iPod inside. Apple even touted it that way in its pre-launch commercials calling it ďThe best iPod ever.Ē Thereís not much more that needs to be said about iPhoneís handling of music files.

    The iPhoneís 2.0 megapixel camera handles stills and videos well. It has an on-screen button which is dedicated to taking you to a constantly updated list of YouTube videos. Just press on any link on the deviceís YouTube page and you can watch the video on your iPhone. Itís a very cool feature Ė although itís much faster over a Wi-Fi connection.

    More features
    The iPhone has world/alarm clock, calculator, note pad, stock market results and Google map programs. Each one has an icon on the front screen for easy access. The Google map program is not only speedy fast to load new maps (again, best via a Wi-Fi connection) but also interacts with your contacts and email to help get you directions to where youíre going. This is another feature that you have to try for yourself to understand how cool this is.

    It's a cell phone too
    iPhone is, after all, a cellular phone. So far, Iíve had zero problems with its call-making capabilities. Out at my Eastern Long Island, New York test lab, iPhone has turned in terrific reception results even though there is a near complete lack of cell towers in the area.

    Iíve heard that AT&Tís service is giving pause to some would-be iPhone buyers because of past experiences or just plain bad word-of-mouth. Iíve had my iPhone for only two days Ė but it has worked everywhere Iíve tried it.

    Apple says the non user-changeable battery is good for up to 8 hours of use per charge. Without using my iPhone to play music, the battery has lasted more than 36 hours, which is pretty good for a smartphone. The AT&T SIM card, with all your phone account information, is also sealed inside. If you travel overseas, you cannot easily swap SIMs to use a foreign phone account.

    iPhones come in 4GB ($499) and 8 GB ($599) versions. Both come with a one-year warranty and a 10-day money-back guarantee (minus a 10% fee if you open the box.) Usage plans vary from $60-$120 per month, depending on the number of minutes you use, with a two-year AT&T service contract.

    The iPhone is an iPod, a world-band smartphone, digital camera. It is an amazingly innovative and intuitive device. And, while itís not perfect, itís miles ahead of its current smartphone competition.

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