Thursday, 22 November 2007

It's what computers have become

I seem to remember this being the slogan for the N95 when it first came out. It was perhaps stretching the capabilities a little but it really has an impressive set of features.

I posted last month in To iPhone or Not To iPhone about how I was besotted with having a 5MP camera sitting on the platform of a 'proper' phone. Seems I was a little hasty.

If the N95 truly is what PCs have become then it's lineage should be traced back through the Wintel family. Features are king, the more the better, cram them in, it's what sells.

The mobile phone according to Apple however is a wholly different story. The interface truly is exceptional. There is something about touching and stroking the glorious screen that has engaged me with it like no other before it.

The camera, despite being 2MP is good and is a damn sight quicker to use than the Nokia. I've been using it to photograph slides in presentations and am forever missing them while the camera application starts up. That said, without a flash it's pants for indoor shots.

The iPod functionality is great, the mail application is really easy to use and the visual voice mail is excellent. Who needs SpinVox when you've got that application shipping for free.

The web browsing experience, when you have data coverage, is truly awesome. It's replaced my laptop for a lot of my casual browsing, blog reading, research etc. Sat in the lounge at home, in a hotel bar, etc it's far less cumbersome. Starts up a lot quicker and I can read the content just as well.

So that just leaves the infamous touchscreen keyboard. It''s OK. It's pretty accurate, you do get better at it and the intelligent correction is pretty accurate. It is a bit irritating to use, but I find typing on a standard numeric keyboard irritating as well.

This also means when I'm browsing I tend to browse and read rather than use forms or other mechanics that require text entry. I think I'm slightly more prepared to do it knowing there's a Qwerty there should I need it. Though that could also be the novelty factor.

There is one problem and I have to admit it has irritated me no end. It's probably out of all proportion, and it's probably because the other aspects set the usability bar so high, but I hate it.

It's that awful, recessed headphone socket. It's either downright ignorant or downright arrogant. Why on earth force people to use the headphones that ship with the device? I personally have two problems with this

  1. I must have funny shaped/small ears. I can't get most ear phones to stay in if I'm in any way energetic when I'm using them. How people run with them in I will never know.
  2. I do a fair bit of flying and have bought myself some rather lovely Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones (birthday present to myself when I lost the actual day in the air to Australia, thank goodness for the electrical shops in Singapore airport). I can't plug them in!

So my iPhone now has a tail in the shape of a Griffin headphone adaptor.

Defaced but compatible.

So in conclusion, a truly wonderful device with a revolutionary new interface that sets a new standard for personal communication devices. Yes the data coverage is a bit of a pain but most of the time I can get WiFi of EDGE so it's pretty much fit for purpose. And when the 3G version comes to the UK, whenever that might be, and if they can keep the battery going long enough, it could just be perfect.

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