Remember 2005? In 2005, Panasonic introduced the TH-65PX500. It was the world's first 65" 1080p Plasma (the press for the display actually defined the HDMI acronym). It was a cool $9k. In 2005 I was using a Nokia N-Gage as my phone - it didn't have a camera, but it did allow me to install "apps." Yes, I had a web browser on my phone back then, too. Twitter wouldn't be born for another year, and you still had to be a college student to join Facebook. The iPhone wasn't really even a rumor, and Apple was still 100% PowerPC (ok that, that last one was geeky).
The other day I posted a pic to Twitter. This was a snapshot pic of my son, sitting in front of our 65" plasma screen (no, it wasn't even close to $9k) playing a computer game. My son will never know that playing computer games on that screen just isn't "normal." We don't watch traditional "TV," instead everything we watch is delivered through the internet, on DVD/Blu-ray, or on our AppleTV. Back to the picture... close to 1,000 people were able to see the pic, a pic I took with my phone - instantly. Remember having to download images to your computer before using them? Or, if you're old enough, dropping off film rolls to be developed? Yikes.
There are things in our lives, things we use every day that just a few short years ago didn't exist. We didn't perceive a need for them, or they just simply weren't possible. These are the same things that many people relentlessly complain about of course - forgetting how amazing the technology really is. Here's a quick example: "the iPad doesn't have a camera, or USB ports." Really?
As you move though your day, give each piece of technology in your lives a few seconds of respect. No, technology isn't perfect, and no it's not always obvious. But the stuff we have today is amazing, and it's just going to get better.
What do you see that is just amazing?
This is a quick "first impression" review of the Rocketfish RF-MAB2 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones, as used with the iPhone 3Gs. The short review: Yes, I can finally leave the silly Apple wired ear buds in my backpack, as a backup!
When I saw the RF-MAB2 on the shelf at Best Buy, I decided to look for reviews at Amazon (using the iPhone and Red Laser). A rep walked up and let me know that Rocketfish is BestBuy's in-house brand of products, so I probably wouldn't find reviews there. I did load the RF-MAB2 Best Buy page, and it was well reviewed (4.5 out of 5, with 10 reviews). I ended up leaving without making the purchase - because I wanted to do a little more research.
The next day I stopped back by and picked them up. I was completely geeked on the way home, like a kid on Christmas day. Yes, that's the way I roll with my technology.
The initial impression of build quality was just OK. The neckband is 100% plastic, so I was a bit put off. The RF-MAB2 is a behind the neck headset, with two triangular ear pieces, about 1.5" on each side. While I've never been a behind the neck kind of guy, the cool kids seem to like them. They're comfortable enough, so that's become a relative non-issue for me. I'm not a runner and I don't do exercises that jar the body, so I can't say whether or not the RF-MAB2 is good for joggers. I sit in coffee shops and work on a computer.
Setup was as easy as it gets. If you have experience with Bluetooth and pairing there was nothing unusual. If not, the pairing instructions were well done, and clear.
The audio quality is pretty remarkable given how much I paid for the RF-MAB2. Apple wants $10 more for their "premium" wired ear buds, and to that I can safely say these are a much better value. There are 5 sound processor modes, some better for voice, and some better for music. The bass is deep enough, and the highs nice and crisp. Remember this however... I sit in coffee shops and work on a computer. I am NOT an audiophile, but these sound terrific to me.
Call quality seems to be fine. I did a limited test with @torreybelle in a noisy kitchen with a playing 5yr old. If I talk to you on the phone, be sure to comment on the call quality. I'll update the post with feedback.
I was able to listen to podcasts pretty much the entire day with a few hours of idle time, and the battery still had more. The iPhone needed charging before the headphones, as a matter of fact. I can't speak to the battery life under each possible use case, but overall I'm happy with what I've experienced. I'm not on the phone much at all but listen to podcasts like a mad man.
There are some downsides.
As with any Bluetooth Stereo Headset or A2DP device, you have to remember that iPhone 3.0 doesn't support AVCRP. That simply means that you can't use the controls on the device to do things like fast forward and rewind. You can still do those things from the iPhone, and iPhone 3.1 is rumored to have a full AVCRP implementation. Basic controls like answering calls, volume, etc. all work of course.
Getting the RF-MAB2 to pair with the MacBook Pro and the iPhone was no problem. However, switching between the devices was more difficult than it should have been. It works, but needs a little more hand holding than I wanted. Alas, I bought them for the iPhone so that doesn't matter. (Ok, I'll tell you. You have to turn Bluetooth off on the iPhone, then choose the headphone profile on the Mac. Reverse the process to go back to the iPhone.)
All in all, the value and quality of audio you get for $69.99 is pretty amazing. I've been using Bluetooth devices since the 1.0 spec in the 90's, and I'm just elated at how far the products have come. They're not perfect but we're getting really close.
Bottom line? Best Buy has a 30 day return policy, if you don't like them, the risk is theirs. I think you'll really like them. Pick up a pair now at BestBuy.com
What's with all of the hype around the iPhone? Haven't we had phones that have all of these features for years? In 2003 (6 years ago!) I had the Nokia N-Gage. I was able to install apps, play games, browse the web, and text like crazy. Ok, so it didn't have a camera, but I had plenty of friends with cameras in their phones, and some of them even did video.
In 2006 I had the Cingular 8125, a Windows Mobile based phone that had a completely customizable interface. It took pictures and video, it could do email, SMS, and had a neat slide out keyboard. Let's not forget the swanky stylus! It had Bluetooth, and WIFI too, and that was three years ago. I loaded all kinds of custom ROMs on it, and installed apps like crazy.
So why is the iPhone so great? It's just now getting features that have been in other phones for years, right? Let's take a look.
It was June 29th, 2007, I had been in line for about 15 hours, we camped out of course. I ended up being second in Boulder to get my hands on an iPhone - the line was around the corner and then some. We all had certain expectations of course - it was called the "Jesus Phone" after all. It had it's short comings, no Flash, no GPS, no 3G, the keyboard was weird, and the pricing? Yikes.
Then came July 11, 2008. We got started a little earlier in the evening this time, but I still ended up third line line. Not too bad for a line of hundreds. Again, the iPhone was the next best thing to water, though it still had it's shortcomings. The camera hadn't changed at all, and there was still no video. Turn by turn directions were nowhere to be found, voice dialing, and a decent Bluetooth implementation were missing. Don't forget Copy and Paste. And again I bought it, the white 16GB to be exact.
Then came June 18th, 2009. This time there were two lines: those that had reserved their phones ahead of time, and those that hadn't. I fell in the second line, in third place. I ended up being about 15thish into the store. Sure there are things missing from the iPhone 3Gs, like... SMS groups, Flash, and a "complete" Bluetooth A2DP profile, but you know what I've determined? It doesn't matter. It really doesn't.
I've been asked by many - what is all the hype about? Why are people so passionate about the iPhone. The Blackberry does all of this stuff, and has forever. There's the Palm Pre, and the newer Andriod phones are full of features too.
Let me tell you why I think the iPhone is a popular as it is. It's because all of it's features, the things that make the iPhone what it is, are right beneath the your fingers. Nothing makes this more clear than having my three year old (at the time) pick up my iPhone 2G and scroll through the photos, pinching and zooming away. A day later, he was taking pictures, and playing accelerometer based games. I would have never given him my 8125 (well, I did later as a toy without service).
The iPhone is so great because everything you want to do is right at your finger tips. It's not buried under levels of menus or mouse (nub) clicks away. There is no "start menu" and there's no need for a stylus. Want to take a picture? Touch the Camera. Want to send an SMS? Touch the chat bubble.
But you get far more with the iPhone than a simple phone. You get the internet to your pocket. It gives everyone the ability to keep in touch, have fun, and learn. Anywhere with a wireless signal.
Note: Apple is on the third version of the iPhone software. The software is freely available to all iPhone owners, including those of the original iPhone. This brings lots of features to a three year old phone, including copy and paste, and better performance. Think about it. Apple still releases software for it's first phone giving it new features.
Since my first post on piracy, I've been asked a few times to outline the programs I use day to day. Today I'm covering word processing and notes. I use a mix of online services and desktop programs. It sounds cumbersome, but it is pretty simple as each program has a specific use.
For notes and my blog posts, I use a simple program/web service combination called Evernote. It's a cross platform program with native apps for Mac, iPhone, Windows, and Windows Mobile. It is also accessible through the Evernote web site on any computer. All of these sources sync via Evernote.com, so I'm always up to date, everywhere. Think about that... your notes everywhere you are. The Mac version is my favorite because of the interface design. The built-in spell checking on the Mac is pretty amazing too. The Windows version is fine, but I'm not a fan of interface to the documents. It's like a long sheet with a strange cumbersome slider. Oh, be sure to check out the cool text recognition features of the iPhone app!
While Evernote is great for notes and blogs entries, most people don't use it. When I need to edit Word documents or send them to others, I use either Apple's iWork Pages or OpenOffice. Since all I typically do is read documents, the odd rendering problems I may encounter aren't that important. Compatibility in those applications has come a long, long way however. iWork '09 from Apple is $64.99 at Amazon. It includes Pages (word processing), Numbers (spreadsheet), and Keynote (presentations). OpenOffice is free and can be downloaded from OpenOffice.org. There are Mac, Windows, and Linux versions, all available for free.
For work and when I need to collaborate on documents with others, Google Documents is simply amazing. It's 100% web based, and is great for allowing others to edit and view your docs. There is a revision history so you know who did what and when. It isn't as robust as a stand alone word processing program, but you should at least try it as it will serve the needs of a whole lot of you.
What do you use?
Yes, I'm a die-hard iPhone user. I'll try to sell it to anyone that even pretends to be interested in the device - some might even say I go overboard. I even stood in line (OK, camped out overnight) for both iPhones. I was second in line for the first, and third in line for the 3G at the Boulder, Colorado, Apple Store.
I find a lot of value in it and if people knew about the wonderful things it can do, everyone would want one. The app store is amazing, I've downloaded nearly 100 applications, and a lot of them are paid applications. The utility of these apps varies, but it is clear that Apple has set the bar for the industry. Not just in the iPhone's user interface, but in the App Store's purchasing process, and the overall iPhone experience. Each firmware release just makes things better and better.
As great as the iPhone is, it's missing a few features. A big one is copy and paste. I don't have a lot of use for it, but it sure stinks when I want it and it isn't there. The SMS alerts are modal and take over the screen. If you've ever been on a phone call and received an SMS you'll know what I mean. You have to acknowledge the SMS before you can end the call. You can only run one application at a time, and there are no background processes. If you get a new Tweet for example, you don't know until you open your Twitter application. If you get new messages in Facebook, you have to go to the Facebook app to find out. I'd love to see what developers could do if their apps were allowed to run processes in the background.
A term was coined shortly after the iPhone was introduced: "the iPhone Killer." As it has been loosely defined, it is any phone with a "touch" interface, or even more simply a touch screen. The device has to be internet connected and do lots of neat tricks like the iPhone. Several companies have tried to gain mind share with their offerings: Blackberry Storm, T-Mobile G1, Samsung Instinct, and host others. In my experience, these phones all feel rushed to market, as if they were conceived just after Steve Jobs announced the original iPhone. The T-Mobile G1 has gained a lot of attention by being completely open source - any developer can write applications for it, but it has (to date) failed to live up to its expectations.
At CES last week a new phone was introduced. As soon as I heard it was from Palm, Inc. I was quick to brush it off as another "iPhone Killer." A device that the company has put all of its heart and soul in to just be let down in sales and market adoption. The iPhone is the 600lb gorilla, after all. Palm, Inc. has lost everything it gained with the Palm OS, and has even been caught selling Windows Mobile instead. A has been company, looking for one final volley in the modern phone world.
And they knocked it out of the park. World, meet the Palm Pre. This is the first "iPhone Killer" that actually stands a chance at gaining a sustainable piece of the market. Apple might just be caught sweating about this one. Why? Because I (see above for why this is remarkable) want one. And I want it now.
This post isn't about the features and all of the things the Pre can do. For that I'll leave a link at the bottom to they introduction. This post is about me letting the world know that technology is evolving, and Apple is no longer the only player in the wicked smart phone market. Have a look at the video, and you'll be as amazed as I was. Pay particular attention the the charging mechanism and the sync process.
Here's the video: Palm Pre @CES. After you watch that, have a look at the coverage at Engadget. Read the user comments for extra credit: Palm Pre in-depth impressions, video, and huge hands-on gallery
If you're looking for the best iPhone weather app, look no further than The Weather Channel. This app is far easier to use, and from what I've seen more accurate than my previous favorite Weatherbug.
The Weather Channel provides an hourly forecast, a 36 hour forecast, as well as the traditional 10 day forecast.
Choosing a new location is a click away, and you don't have to add the new locations as favorites just to see the weather.
My favorite feature however is the weather map. You can choose to see precipitation, cloud cover, both, and many other overlays.
Having the weather in your hand is convenient if you're someone that travels frequently or just plays outside a lot. Having this app in your pocket is empowering.
Be prepared, download The Weather Channel now. It is free.
I've been using Twitteriffic on the iPhone since it was released. Sure, I've tried the others - Twittelator Pro and Twinkle - but neither of them were as comfortable as Twitteriffic to me.
A couple of days ago I was looking at the new apps in the iTunes App Store and stumbled across TwitterFon. It is simple, fast, and useful. It doesn't do pictures, it doesn't update your location, but it does what it does well.
You can see the tweets of your friends of course, your replies, and your messages. Your friend's stream is two shades of blue - darker blue is unseen, and lighter blue is previously seen.
TwitterFon keeps lots and lots of history too which is something Twitteriffic doesn't do. There's even a "Load all stored Tweets" option at the bottom of the list if you need more.
I like it a lot. You should give it a shot. Simple, fast, and cheap.
Download it here: TwitterFon - Version 1.1, Free
Several years ago I signed up for a service called .Mac (dot Mac). My intention with .Mac was to have an @mac email address for life, have a place to back up important files, and to have a way to sync bookmark/address book/calendar data with several computers. You know what? It did all of those things really, really well. Sure there were outages, but they never really affected me since none of my uses were mission critical.
The day the iPhone was announced (Macworld, January 2007) I was extremely excited at the prospect of over the air (OTA) syncing with my iPhone. Push email on the iPhone wasn't really of interest to me, mostly because I never understood the advantages (I still don't get it). Regardless, OTA syncing with .Mac was never to be.
Then the world brightened. MobileMe, the renamed an much improved .Mac offers everything .Mac did, but so, so much more. Now when I add a date to iCal, it shows up on my iPhone automatically. Am I bothered fact that it isn't instant? Not in the slightest. What it means is that the next time I add an event on my phone, it will automatically show up in my iCal on my Mac, and at MobileMe.com. I don't have to plug my iPhone into my computer. Neat.
My address book is also in sync, as are my bookmarks across my iPhone, my laptop (MacBook Pro), and my desktop (a pc running Windows XP).
Remember just three years ago how horrible the land of data syncing was? I don't have to think about this syncing stuff anymore.
MobileMe is everything I need, and it works flawlessly.
After our successful modding of the Creative Fatal1ty Gaming Headset for use with the iPhone, I realized that there may be others interested in the pinouts for the iPhone headphone plug. I've seen other places that mention the external iPhone plug functions, but to do anything productive you need to know which colors go to the plug itself.
What are the iPhone headphone plug pinouts?
Green is 1st contact/left headphone
Red is 2nd contact/right headphone
Red/Green Combo and both coppers are 3rd contact/ground
White is 4th contact/microphone - the white wire is inside the red/green combo wire
If you would like for us to mod a headset for you, leave a note in the comments and I'll get back to you. The process should work with any headset that uses the 3.5mm plugs for input and output. It is just a matter of determining what the wires do in the headset itself.
I also found that the Verizon stores carry a 3.5mm to 2.5mm adaptor for US $3.99 - it has the same pins in the same positions, though I haven't tested it. The Verizon adaptor option is way cheaper than destroying a US $29.99 pair of Apple iPhone buds. If you try it and it works let me know and I'll update this post.
The short answer? Yes. The iPhone will tether, and not just the 3G iPhone, the 1st gen iPhone will tether too.
Setting up tethering with the iPhone is a bit technical, but I think you can handle it. The instructions below don't mention creating a new location in the network settings for this purpose, but I highly recommend it. I have several locations, each with a specific use. For example, I have a home location that uses a static IP to get around the Leopard DNS issues (pokey lookups). I have several locations with static IPs for the same reason, actually. Anyway, I recommend that you set up a new location with just the AirPort interface in it, named something creative like "Tether." When you want to tether, switch to that location, and if you have problems you'll be assured that other interface settings aren't interfering.
The application is $9.99 and can be found here: NetShare. Appropriately, some of the commenters in the App store suggest that you keep an eye on your usage as AT&T has a ceiling on the "unlimited" bandwidth plan.
The simple instructions for Mac users on Leopard are here: Macrumors.
Let me know if you need help. I'll do what I can.