Monday, March 14, 2011

iPhone 4

Since 2008 I had been using a Verizon broadband card primarily for the purpose of obtaining mobile weather information. Useful as it was, it didn't get used nearly as much as it should so to justify the monthly expense. Upon completion of my contract back in June 2010, I became eligible for an upgrade to a different device however, I held out in my decision making. Initially I figured I would get a DROID for tethering capability via the PdaNet app. I was on the fence though as I liked the convenience of a built in radar app like that which already existed for the iPhone. When I learned that Verizon was getting the iPhone, I waited till it became available and picked the brains of (very patient) friends who own both devices so to get their opinions. Research paid off and I decided to go with the iPhone 4 so to be able to purchase the popular RadarScope app that is produced by Base Velocity. Nothing against the DROID but this app is what sealed the deal for me.

I'm not real tech when it comes to dissecting devices however, I went with the 16GB model as the upgrade plan fit my budget and space needs. I can say that now after having loaded 14 apps, over 840 images, 36 videos and 3.7 days worth of music, I still have over 3 GB's of space remaining. Since I am one to dive right in on working devices to the extreme, I have been very pleased with the multitasking capability of this phone when it comes to juggling text, email, internet and entertainment. Battery life was a concern in the beginning but not now after having pushed it in this regard as well. Though I have not drained it to the point of empty, I have let it go for over 8 hours at a time. When simply using text, internet and phone over this duration, the charge has only dropped down to about 50% or higher. Running the camera in video mode or iPod naturally use more power but again, I'm not too worried should I ever forget the cord. Now for some screen shots...

My front page is where I keep the features I access most. Sliding to reveal a second page is where I keep Ava's games and lesser used apps. Never in a million years did I think that a smartphone would make for a parent/child bonding opportunity. She's only five and works it like a pro.

Games were never my thing and those shown are what I added for Ava although the Words With Friends that can be seen in the background is highly addicting. Best described as a digital version of Scrabble and fun as it is, I completely suck and have yet to win against my opponent lol. You can also see the utilities folder in the background which is where I crammed all the miscellaneous factory apps. Highly useful nonetheless, included is a nice calculator, compass and notepad to name a few.

Photos are of course very important for me and being able to separate my work into respective folders turns the iPhone into a pocket portfolio. The Portraits folder screenshot below best illustrates this aspect. It should be noted that to conserve space, I resized all images to the standard Facebook size I had been using which is 600 pixels wide on the longest side. The image quality when viewed on the phone is phenomenal despite being such a small resolution. Any picture on your phone can also be easily shared via email or text messaging. Keeping lots of phone generated pictures and video in the main "Camera Roll" album eats away at overall device space so it is good habit to occasionally dump this folder and back the material up to disc via pc. The Camera Roll album works just like an external storage and does not require iTunes to access.

The camera was the least of my concerns when it came to choosing this phone because phone pics simply do not interest me or so I thought. Weighing in at 5 megapixels, I was stunned by the image quality so I decided to go one step further and pick up a tripod adapter shown below. Not that I intend to become a phone photographer but if you are going to do anything, might as well try to do it right. The pics below are tripoded, uncropped and the 2" hair clip is with the built in zoom. As for video, though I have fooled with it some, I don't really have anything worth posting. The device captures in Quicktime format which I don't like but not everything can be perfect :) The videos that I do have loaded on the phone are personal projects converted to mp4 format with Sony Vegas Movie Studio 8.0. I'll write more on that in the future.

As said before, RadarScope is what did it for me when choosing this phone because having mobile radar access is critical. After way too many close calls with my laptop getting rained on or jarred around, I also wanted to find an information alternative and especially since I don't stream. Recent weather events both here and around the country have provided the opportunity to learn the ropes when it comes to this app. Like a watered down miniature version of GR3, this app paid for itself the other week when during an overnight outbreak of severe weather, I was able to identify an ominous return and contact a friend in the path of a tornado warned storm at Olney IL shortly before the warning was even issued. Fortunately nothing materialized but the power in being able to advise someone nearly half a state away all from the palm of my hand was mind blowing. I have nothing but good things to say about RadarScope however I did notice that in the event of signal interruption and especially non-wifi, the app will kick out an error that it is unable to retrieve data. This message does not go away despite retry and in order to reset the app I have to power the device down and back up again. Not that this is a big deal but merely an observation.

Of all the things I was able to do, the one thing I was not was to produce this blog from the device itself. With the Safari browser you can do just about everything except view certain types of flash based video as well as upload images via form method. If there is a work around, I am not aware but again, no complaints. While on the subject of the Safari browser, I do recommend the following bookmark for obtaining real time weather information and text products specifically tailored to the Midwest c/o Stan Olson.

The link to add to your bookmarks

There is of course still much to learn but in the meantime, I have to laugh because prior to this highly sophisticated device, I was content to use a lowly $10 Virgin Mobile prepay phone that I hardly kept minutes on but made for a darn good alarm clock. More to come :P

1 comment:

Dan R said...

Great review - when my AT&T contract expires in November, I will likely be switching to the Iphone for many of the reasons you mentioned. I wish I'd have chosen it to start with! Just an all-around more practical mobile platform.