Apple iPhone

GCN Lab review

I should have a lot of contempt for Apple because a year before the iPhone was announced, I had the coolest tech idea. No lie: I called it visual voice mail. It was going to be my ticket to fame and fortune ' until I saw a commercial for the iPhone, and the actor was talking about a system that lets users look at their voice mail and choose which ones to listen to.

It's called Visual Voicemail, 'an industry first, by Apple.' I nearly had a heart attack, and I swore never to use another Apple product. That lasted for about three minutes until I decided to check e-mail on my iBook.

Despite my disappointment, I became a fan of the iPhone in almost as little time as it took me to forgive the company that created it. The 2.4-inch by 4.5-inch by 0.46-inch iPhone weighs only 4.8 ounces but comes with a whopping 8G hard drive. A stylish 3.5-inch diagonal widescreen Multi-Touch display capable of 480 x 320 resolution at 163 ppi complements the sleek shape. The touchscreen capability makes the iPhone easy to use whether you are left- or right-handed.

The Spotlight feature, a virtual magnifying glass, enlarges characters and text as you type or search through a document.

It improves the navigational features for the visually impaired ' and the rest of us ' so well that it could almost qualify the iPhone as compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The handheld felt uncomfortable to use as a phone, but Apple was wise to include not only Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) and EDGE digital mobile phone technology but also Bluetooth ' and not just Bluetooth, but Bluetooth 2.0+Enhanced Data Rate. This new version of Bluetooth increases the speed and bandwidth from 1 megabit/sec to 3 megabits/sec.

For all its great features, there is still room for improvement. A red flag goes up whenever I see a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery. You want to be able to use a $600 device for a long time, and the battery is always the first thing to go. With an integrated battery, you're looking at a slow, painful death. One day you notice that you've lost a few minutes on a full charge, then several more minutes, and before you know it, you're charging the handheld as often as possible.

Another problem with the iPhone is its dependency on applications that most government agencies and private corporations ban, such as iTunes. This, coupled with the lack of an Outlook plug-in, renders the device useless in most working environments.

Despite these issues and Apple's exclusive arrangement with AT&T, it's hard not to want an iPhone, especially if the Internet and strong media capabilities are important to you. Just don't expect a warm reception at the office from your systems administrator.

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