Yet Another iPhone Review

I won’t spend a lot of time covering the things I like about the iPhone as they’re echoed just about everywhere else on the internet. I’ll briefly cover what I like, cover what I don’t like in a bit more detail and sum up my feelings at the end.

  • The screen is jaw droppingly gorgeous.
  • This is hands down the best iPod Apple has produced yet.
  • The multi-touch screen is absolutely a revolutionary input device that cannot be described, but must be experienced.
  • The mail application and web browser are fully functional and work great. For example, my designer sent me a PDF mockup via email, which I opened on my iPhone without issue (multi-touch zooming worked on the large PDF, which was sweet).
  • Clicking on a link to a YouTube video launches the YouTube application and starts playing the video.
  • EDGE isn’t as slow as people make it out to be. Stocks, weather, maps and iPhone optimized websites load up in a respectable manner. Forget about watching a YouTube video though.
  • When moving the text cursor around it zooms in just above your finger because you’d never be able to see where the text cursor is otherwise. Additionally, it auto-capitalizes after punctuation.

There are quite a few things that I don’t like about the phone, which is typical for first generation Apple hardware. It’s clear that the operating system was rushed and that there are bugs, but I fully expect updates to be pushed out in short order.

  • My biggest complaint is that the keyboard is corrective rather than predictive. In other words if I type “tomo” it might suggest “tomb”, but wouldn’t predict I was typing “tomorrow”. I can’t stress how annoying this was coming from a predictive text phone.
  • The software is buggy. I’ve had to even go so far as to reboot it to get things back on track. Again, this will be fixed soon I’m sure.
  • No landscape keyboard sucks for people with big meaty fingers like me.
  • No IM application is jaw droppingly retarded. Another thing I expect to be pushed in an update in short order.
  • EDGE is slow. I know I just said it was acceptable, but it’s only acceptable for some things. I’ll upgrade immediately after a 3G version is available.
  • I dearly miss my scroll wheel from the regular iPod. Sure flicking stuff is fun to look at, but the navigation aspect of the scroll wheel blows the gestures away. For instance, I flick down to an artist, click play and then have to hit a tiny little arrow to go back.
  • Navigation to commonly used tasks is tedius. Just getting to the phone’s keypad takes 3-4 taps. I have no idea what they could do to fix this, but it seems cumbersome to switch around between apps. What would be hot (maybe) is to have a Alt+Tab type feature similar to switching windows in Safari on the iPhone.
  • You can’t open links in new windows in Safari.
  • If Safari is this great platform for developing iPhone applications why the hell didn’t they include some sort of basic JavaScript framework, CSS, images, etc. as an SDK for creating said applications to look, feel and act like regular iPhone applications? Either release it publicly or, better yet, build it directly into the version of Safari on the iPhone.
  • No games. Seriously? This will be best user interface for solitair anyone has ever seen.
  • The SMS utility isn’t very snappy to load.

I think that just about covers it. Overall, it’s better than any phone I’ve ever used. I fully expect the software kinks to be fixed periodically over the coming months and 3G phones within a year. Post any questions in the comments and I’ll besure to reply.

Brokeback Mountain

I went with a friend to see Brokeback Mountain, also known as “The Gay Cowboy Movie”, this last Sunday. I wasn’t particularly interested in seeing a movie about two guys falling in love, but being the movie buff I am and the immense critical acclaim and press this movie was getting I figured I didn’t have anything to lose. Boy was I wrong.

Forget that there are two guys kissing and, yes, having sex. Put that aside for just a second. Let’s instead focus on how absolutely boring this movie was. I felt like I had ran a marathon at the end. And the acting? If Heath Ledger gets an Oscar for his performance it will be a complete and utter travesty. You can’t understand a word he says, when he does actually say something and the entire “plot” moves along at a snail’s pace.

My other problem with this movie is that it quickly brushes over what I think are important plot points. Highlight the following for plot spoilers. Jake Gyllenhaal’s character has illicit affairs in Mexico with male prostitutes, another affiar with a ranch hand in Texas and winds up being killed for being gay. A total of five, maybe ten, minutes are given to these stories.

Overall, I’d say this movie is something to avoid at all cost and it’s not because it’s two guys falling in love, it’s because it’s just a terribly acted and horrifically told story.

Sony PSP Review

I’ve been waiting to write this review for quite some time. I wanted to really play with my PSP before I sat down and wrote up a review for all three people who read this blog on a regular basis. If you’re in a hurry the short review is that the PSP kicks ass, but leaves you wanting more.

The first thing you notice about the Sony PSP is that they seriously tried to put the kitchen sink in this thing. In fact, I think they did manage to get a water fountain in there. The unit comes with an amazing LCD capable of doing 480 x 272 resolution, WiFi, IrDA, Memory Stick DUO and a UMD reader. The UMD format holds about 1.8GB of data and is cable of storing music, videos and games on it (sometimes all on the same disk).

The good stuff …

  1. The graphics and controls are great. There’s even an analog joystick that’s simply amazing.
  2. The built in WiFi simply works and it works well. It does fast scanning and even tells you if the access points are open or not.
  3. The new 2.0 firmware, which despite being “Japanese only” can be installed easily from the internet, comes with a Mozilla based browser. To put it simply, the browser kicks ass. It renders sites amazingly and the UI is top notch. I barely miss my keyboard doing simple browsing.
  4. The 2.0 firmware supports a wide range of codecs and image formats, including Apple’s AAC format, MPEG-4 video, etc.

The bad stuff …

  1. The LCD’s apparently have dead pixel problems. The one I bought didn’t have any dead pixels per se, but does have some “fussy pixels” that come and go. I’d recommend the Best Buy service plan, which will replace the unit after 8 dead pixels, while the Sony warranty won’t replace the until there are 38 dead pixels.
  2. Unless you’re lucky enough to get the 1.5 firmware (not 1.51 or 1.52), you won’t be doing any homebrew stuff on your PSP. I was really hoping to get install MAME, but until they crack the 2.0 firmware I’m out of luck.
  3. I want something that makes it simple to put video onto the PSP. There are a few programs, but the process for ripping a DVD and putting it onto a PSP is tedious at best. If I own the DVD I shouldn’t have to to purchase a special PSP movie to watch it on my PSP. It’s so shitty that I’d rather buy the UMD than tinker with ripping the DVD and converting it.

If Sony was smart they would …

  1. Add a VoIP client. It has WiFi and an interface port next to the headphone jack. They could easily add the ability to use a headset. I would pay for a soft phone for this thing in a second.
  2. Add chat software and/or voice-to-text software. They should release a headset and allow me to talk into the headset for chat over the internet (ie. iChat) or create voice-to-text software.
  3. Start selling and external hard drive or add a USB driver so I can plug in any USB hard drive and watch video, view images, etc.
  4. Sell a UMD writer and blank UMD disks.
  5. Sell and SDK and allow developers to start creating and selling homebrew games and applications.
  6. Create PIM/Calendar/Email/RSS clients for the PSP. I can’t stress this enough. I want a simple PIM/Calendar app for my contacts and calendar, iCal/Address Book integration, a simple IMAP/POP email client and an RSS aggregator. The aforementioned SDK would clear these needs up in less than a month I bet.
  7. The browser needs flash support so web developers can create flash games specially formatted for the PSP.

The short of it is that the Sony PSP is an AMAZING platform. If someone created one of these and opened up the platform with an SDK every kid on the planet would want one. What I’d recommend is creating an online store that would allow independent developers to upload and digitally sign their applications. They would then sell them through the store with a cut going to Sony. This would allow independent developers to create games, while keeping the platform closed and reducing the ability for people to copy video games. I could be sitting at a cafe and someone with a PSP could walk in. In order to play against him (or her) I’d need a copy of the game. No big deal, just go to the PSP store and download the game before playing.

I love the PSP and I’m quite addicted to Need for Speed Rivals, but I really hope and wish Sony will listen to the tremendous demand for an SDK and find a way to coexist with the independent developer community.

LG PM-325 Review

LG PM-325For the last four months I’ve put up with mediocre Bluetooth support on my SonyEricsson T608. The T608 is basically the bastard child of Sprint PCS. They don’t talk about it, it was never publicly available on the site or through the stores. So when they announced the LG PM-325 had Bluetooth I was excited to finally have a phone to take advantage of all Bluetooth had to offer.

Yesterday I picked up an LG PM-325 at my local Radio Shack and had it activated. From the very beginning there were annoyances. The following things are just a few of them.

  1. When the phone is slid closed (it’s a sliding phone) you cannot scroll through your contacts, however, you can scroll through your call history.
  2. The default shortcut when you scroll down is to go to the menu with call history selected. It took me about five minutes to figure out how to set the shortcut to scroll through my contacts when I pressed down.
  3. After searching all over the web and tinkering on my own I’ve come to the conclusion that the phone doesn’t appear to support any Bluetooth functionality beyond pairing, which basically makes Bluetooth worthless in this phone. If anyone knows how to get this working with iSync or as a Bluetooth modem please contact me or post a message.

Needless to say I continue to be disappointed in what Sprint has to offer in the way of Bluetooth phones. Crappy or no DUN support (in OS X anyways) and no OBEX support. They finally tout a Bluetooth phone publicly and I can’t even sync it with my contacts or use it as a modem, much less send SMS messages through it.

Looks like it is time to “move” to Europe and switch carriers.

A flock of movie reviews

I’ve been watching a few movies these past few weeks and thought I’d pass on some of the better ones. Read on for more details.

First up is the movie “Ocean’s Eleven” starring a whole slew of headliners. George Clooney and Brad Pitt give outstanding performances in this genuinely great movie. Somehow they manage to put together a great movie without violence, a ton of “F” words, or any sex. A must see.

Next is “Vanilla Sky” starring Tom Cruise as a playboy who is disfigured in a car accident. This movie keeps you following a single plot until the very end when the entire movie comes rushing at you in a matter of only a few minutes, much like “Fight Club” and “The Sixth Sense” did. Another amazing movie to see.

Finally, is the movie “America’s Sweethearts” starring Julia Roberts, Kathrine Zeta Jones, John Cusack, and Billy Crystal. It’s your typical John Cusack movie (boy is madly in love with some girl), but manages to be different than the rest (the pinnacle being “High Fidelity”). A great date movie.

Raging Bull Review

It took me a while but I finally got around to watching “Raging Bull”. It was a LONG flick – but good. I’m amazed at how much weight DeNiro gained for the last half of the movie (you can’t even recognize him!). I might even have to go out and buy it myself.