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Jewish World Review
August 10, 2007
/ 26 Menachem-Av, 5767
A handheld to adore
Someday, perhaps, all handheld computing/communication devices will
be like this: a press one of two different buttons, and it powers on.
Press a single button, and you can select from several applications.
Touch the screen with your index finger, or other digit, and the
desired application launches.
Keep touching the screen to place a telephone call, examine (or even
delete) an e-mail message. Writing one can be done with the same on-
screen keyboard, coupled with some rather good predictive typing,
resulting in quick composition of most messages. Flip through a
roster of music, or videos, and select the one you want. The small
built-in speaker don't sound small; you won't fill a room, but you
can hear the music easily.
Want to surf the net, you can, either via a Wi-Fi connection or a
wireless data network. The latter is a tad slow, but sometimes can be
rather agile in responding. However, the network is rather good for
voice calling and you can even "conference" two people, at least,
Oh, and did I mention it weighs less than 5 ounces and can provide up
to eight hours of talk time?
By now, savvy readers will have puzzled out that I'm speaking about
Apple Inc.'s IPhone, which arrived about a month back for the public
and about a week ago for this reviewer. I'm quite enamored of the
device, even if there are some enhancements necessary before it can
be pronounced totally perfect.
Perhaps the most important thing to note about the IPhone is that its
interface is generally flawless. You really can negotiate the device
with one finger and have it work without hassle. Yes, "typing" on the
on-screen keyboard takes some adjustment, but it's not as steep a
learning curve as I expected. Paging through photos or songs is super
easy; on-screen controls work without a hitch.
One hiccup arose when the IPhone's e-mail program opened a Microsoft
Word attachment, but didn't close it. Holding down the "home" button
at the bottom of the device's face forced the program closed and I
was able to go back into action.
Other reviewers have noted something which I'd also note: the
horizontal and vertical viewing ability of the IPhone's Safari Web
browser, which lets you pivot the screen to view more of an Internet
Web page and zoom in on text or a photo, is great. It would be
greater if it extended to e-mail and e-mail attachments. Perhaps that
can happen in a software revision; I certainly hope so.
That said, the Web browsing experience on an IPhone has no equal,
none, in the handheld world, at least that I've seen. Handhelds from
Palm and Research In Motion offer useful Web viewing, but neither
firm can equal Safari on the IPhone. I don't believe that Microsoft's
Windows Mobile can, either.
So for many tasks, the IPhone is a near-perfect device. Phone calls,
e-mails and Web browsing can be accomplished with ease. There's an
"airplane mode" to let you enjoy multimedia without having the
phone's wireless radios - GSM, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi - wreak havoc in
the skies. The case is elegant and smudges wipe off easily.
Perhaps the greatest consumer objections will be price $499 for a
4 Gigabyte model and $599 for the 8 Gigabyte IPhone - and restriction
to both AT&T's wireless service as a provider and the need for a two-
year contract. I imagine the price will come down as the IPhone range
expands, and perhaps other carriers will be added at some point.
But when you hold the IPhone, you quite literally hold the future of
wireless communications in you hands. Apple has raised the bar to a
very high level, and it is one that other makers will have to work
diligently to meet, let alone cross.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
© 2007, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com
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