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Review: Apple iPhone
It's by no means perfect, but it comes darned close. In addition to its much-touted design, touchscreen, and visual voicemail, the iPhone is a surprisingly good video player, complete with access to YouTube clips.
Fri., July 20, by Steve Mack

First things first. Though some of you may have noticed my unnatural affection for my MacBook Pro and my recent Streaming Media magazine column eagerly awaiting the release of the iPhone, I did not wait in line on June 29th to get an iPhone. Sure, I considered it, but I was on a business trip and I figured the excitement would die down in a day or two. I was wrong.

When I returned to Seattle, it turned out that the entire state of Washington was out of iPhones, and would be for some time. I was advised to order one through ATT and have it drop shipped to my house, which would take seven to ten days. Not good enough, as I was traveling to Europe in a few days. On a lark, I did a quick search on Craigslist, and found an 8GB model for less than retail. Don’t ask me how or why; all I know is one phone call and 20 minutes later I had the sealed box in hand, and was ready to start the iPhone experience.

And what an experience. Apple has done it again.

Apple’s mastery of industrial design and user experience simply cannot be overstated. How else can they get people to line up around the block to spend $600 on a phone? I’d wager every person that bought an iPhone the first weekend already had a mobile phone and a portable media player. So why spend the money? The same reason folks buy iPods and Mac laptops at a premium—it’s a far better experience, and one that I believe will change more than just mobile devices.

Getting Started
Remember the last time you bought a mobile phone, and you had to sit and watch while the sales person painfully went through screen after screen on their computer, trying to set up your account? You probably were tempted to take over the mouse and keyboard and do it yourself to save time. With the iPhone, that’s exactly what you do.

Download and install the latest iTunes, plug in the iPhone, and away you go. As an existing AT&T customer, I had to navigate a few screens to enter my existing phone number, and a few other fields to verify that it was indeed me. In total I think it was about six clicks. Are you kidding me? Nope. Apple sent me an email thanking me for activating my iPhone, and AT&T sent me an email telling me my phone was working. Now, granted, I have heard that transferring a number from another carrier can be a little more involved. But for me, it took all of five minutes to activate my phone. No waiting in line, zero frustration.

Next it was time to sync all my contacts, calendars, photos, and music. This works the same way syncing an iPod does, with the caveat that you’ve got a limited amount of space to work with. There’s no way all my music is going to fit in eight gigabytes, so I created two iPhone playlists, one with stuff I’ve gotta have with me, and the other a random selection from my library limited by size. Ditto the photos. Click the sync button and you’re done.

Truly Revolutionary
By now all of you have seen one or more of the iPhone commercials that illustrate how easy it is to navigate around the iPhone. But until you’ve had a chance to flick your finger across the screen or watch someone else do so, you won’t believe how natural and intuitive it is. Tap whatever it is you want, and it opens up. Drag this way or that. When you’re using the iPod, browsing the web, or looking at photos, turn the iPhone sideways, and it automatically flips into landscape mode. Heck, if you’re looking at photos in landscape mode, flip the phone around 180 degrees, and the picture automatically rights itself. That’s how an interface is supposed to work.

And this is how a video display should look, too. At 3.5" diagonal, it’s roughly 50% larger than the video iPod screen, but that extra real estate makes a big difference. Text is rendered crisply, even at eye-squinting sizes. The video support is the same as video iPods, but the larger screen size makes for a much more enjoyable experience. I’d never consider watching a movie on my video iPod, but I would on my iPhone. (To find out how to create videos to watch on your iPhone check out Tim Siglin’s article here. )