All Geek to Me

October 30, 2007

iPhone Review Part 2 (iPhone as a Phone)

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 3:34 am

If all you need is a mobile phone, the iPhone is obviously too expensive a device. However, if the phone functionality is deficient then all of the other coolness is irrelevant. I have found the phone functionality of the iPhone to be solid. The calls are clear, finding a contact is straightforward, dialing a number is very easy as the on screen number pad is larger than any conventional mobile phone.

The contacts sync via iTunes to Outlook.

The Bluetooth pairing with my in-car hands-free system was painless. Unfortunately, there is no way to send contacts via Bluetooth which means that any new contacts need to be manually entered. This is less of a problem than it might be as my old Nokia would only set one contact at a time and it took almost as much time as typing them into the car. The car also displays the signal strength and the battery charge; information it could not obtain from my Nokia.

One major advance over my old Nokia is that I can flick an external switch to move the phone into silent mode; very useful if you forget before going into a meeting.

All of your recent calls made and received are in a single list, with a filter to just list those that you missed. I have seen people complain about the inability to just show calls made or calls received, but I find this quick access to be more helpful than the Nokia model.

I use SMS frequently, especially in communicating with friends in the UK. The iPhone excels in this area. The full on screen keyboard makes typing a lot quicker, no need to use that awful text speak. (It may be quicker for the sender to type, but figuring out what is meant means that the time burden is switched to the reader.) The spell check seems to do a good job of picking up typing errors. I have few problems with the size of the on screen keys, but I would not like to try it if I had stubby fingers. The way in which messages are shown on screen as a conversation is very helpful, as you can look back to your previous text message to which you have just received a response.

You can assign different ring tones to a specific contact. This works better for me than my Nokia, which assigned numbers to a group, so I had to create a group for a contact. However, I can imagine if you did want one ring tone for family and one for work colleagues that the Nokia model might be better. The downside is that the iPhone will not allow you to assign any mp3/aac file as a ringtone. You have to use a piece of music purchased from the iTunes store and you are charged again when you do the editing and conversion to a ringtone. On the positive side, the tool in iTunes client for editing the portion of the track you need to create the ringtone are simple and effective. Unfortunately, custom ringtones are not available for text messages; no more TARDIS noises when I get an SMS.

The headphones that one uses to listen to the unit in iPod mode have a microphone built into the lead. If the phone rings while listening to the iPod, you can press the microphone and which switches off the iPod and answers the phone. Unfortunately, through the headphones I find the person calling to be too faint to make out their end of the conversation.

Overall, I would say the iPhone is an A- class phone, the annoyances just enough to prevent it being a perfect phone.

October 17, 2007

Endless Acquistions

Filed under: Geek Stuff — Tags: — britinla @ 2:32 am

I know that allowing prejudices to control one’s reaction to news is a bad habit, but the recent purchase of Bioware by EA filled me with dread. On the one hand we have a software company responsible for two of my favourite computer games of all time; Never Winter Nights and Knights of the Old Republic. On the other side is a company whose idea of a new game is to add one to the year in the game’s title; FIFA 2007, NHL, 2007 etc. EA are also the company involved in the EA Widow scandal of a few years back; which can hardly fill Bioware’s staff with endless joy.

I hope that it ends well, but it requires more than optimism to see this being of benefit to the quality of Bioware’s production.

October 16, 2007

Gods and Zeroes

Filed under: Geek Stuff — Tags: — britinla @ 2:27 am

Best Buy does not have the best reputation in the tech community, as can be seen from this story and this one from The Register. That not withstanding I was surprised to see them selling software that is completely useless, no not Windows Vista, but the pre-order copy of Gods and Heroes. This MMO was due to launch soon, but it is now cancelled. Anyone purchasing the game would find themselves with the right to access a pre-launch Beta that will never occur.

Why do I go to the store? Well it is the entrance to the local mall and is more fun to browse than the jewelry stores.

October 11, 2007

iPhone Part One

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 1:57 am

This is part one of my iPhone review. This first post focuses on what you get in the box. In common with the iPod, the unit is beautifully packaged, in a box that says desirable designer item rather than cell phone. Inside the box, you get the iPhone, a data/charger cable, headphones, a couple of pamphlets, a mains charger, and a docking bay. The mains charger used to ship with 3rd generation iPods; I had one when I was given mine a couple of years ago, but is now an extra cost. The docking bay is a useful addition, although why is it and the cables are white when the iPhone is black?

One of the two pamphlets is a list of health and safety issues; the other a “Finger Tip” picture guide that explains how to use the device. What is not included is a full manual; this is available as a free download from Apple.

The iPhone is slightly longer and narrower than my 20 GB iPod. Most of the front of the device is occupied by a touch sensitive screen, with a single button beneath it. The connector is placed at the bottom; it is the same one as that on previous iPods, so I can use my existing cables. On the side there is a volume rocker and a mute switch. On the top there is a power button, a headphone socket, and a slot that gives access to the sim card. The back has the camera lens.

There can be no doubt that it is looks extremely cool, the lack of a conventional keyboard makes it so much more elegant than a regular mobile – although it is larger than my last six mobile.

Next time, I will write about how the iPhone works as a phone.

October 7, 2007

Anniversary gift for a geek

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 12:11 am

This weekend is our 6th wedding anniversary. I am sitting in the back yard using my anniversary present to write this entry. I am now the happy owner of an iPhone. No longer shall I carry phone, iPod, and PDA. I shall write a more detailed evaluation of the gadget after a few more days of use.

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