Sunday, February 08, 2009

E.T. Phone Home, or Getting Blackburied

Image courtesy of purplelime

I love my iPhone 3G, far more than any phone, PDA, or essentially any other gadget I have ever owned. It does what it is supposed to do, and does it well. It is simple and intuitive in its operation. The build of the device is military-level, with smooth, clean lines. The screen is great. Adding contacts, phone numbers and other such info is easy, and the App Store makes adding new programs a breeze.

Much as I love the thing, I am still quite cognizant of its deficiencies:

  • Cut-and-paste
  • Stereo Bluetooth
  • MMS
  • Video acquisition
  • Decent camera (only 2MP, no flash!)
  • Removable/replaceable battery
  • Removable/replaceable memory
  • Hardware Keyboard

Most of these, however, have not proven to be deal-killers by any means, and in day-to-day use, they present no problem at all, at least not to me.

Despite what you might think, my partners do not always follow my advice when purchasing things technical. In this particular case, many didn't want to switch to AT&T from Verizon, feeling that the latter gives them better coverage in our small town in the South. I haven't had any problems with AT&T, but to each his own. Thus, I have had the chance to play with some of the other high-end phones out there, including several flavors of Blackberry's, a few of the Windows Mobile handsets, and some various other touch-screen toys. I won't even try to give you a full review, but what follows is a brief compilation of my musings about these iPhone wannabees.

Research-In-Motion's (RIM's) Blackberry series has captured the hearts of corporate IT folks everywhere. This is primarily due to their proprietary push e-mail, still acknowledged to be the best in the business. One of my partners just got a Storm (left) and one fellow has a Curve. There have been a few Pearls floating around as well.

The Storm was supposed to be RIM's answer to the iPhone, with a touch-screen and no hard-keyboard as found on the Curve. The Storm's touch-screen has another little design-addition; the entire screen clicks when you, um, click it. In practice, the response of the keyboard is poor, and the clicky-screen feels very strange. My partner's machine seemed to have poor build-quality, and the screen had white-spots in it (not on it). To me, the Blackberry OS is unintuitive, and undeveloped. The whole thing seems to have been built as a life-support system for their e-mail client, and everything else added on as an afterthought. Hold the indignity; this is my opinion, and nothing more.

The other Verizon not-iPhones use varying approaches, some with GUI's layered over the less-graphic Windows Mobile 6, some with LG or Samsung flavors. Many have some great built-in apps, such as voice commands, and vocal turn-by-turn GPS. However, the core functions such as the phone itself, email, and web-browsing still pale in comparison to the iPhone. Symbian, the most popular system overseas, found on the high-end Nokia's and Sony-Ericsson's, just hasn't made much progress on these shores.

While neither I nor any of my partners has yet tried the Google Android OS, as embodied in the G1 below, it may have the potential to be an iPhone killer. Eventually. It has many similarities, including something like the App Store, and of course it has Google behind it. Time will tell.

This was certainly not meant to be a full review of any of the phones mentioned, and you can turn to Google to search for proper write-ups. As usual, I very strongly recommend trying the devices before you buy them, or at least be certain that there is a trial-period, usually 14 days for most carriers. What you see the salesman accomplish in the 2 minute demonstration might have absolutely no connection with the way the machine acts in your hands. You have to try these things in your own production environment to see how they will work.

The whole thing bears an uncanny resemblence to PACS, doesn't it? I wonder if Apple would consider getting into that business? Too bad the name iPACS has already been taken. . .but I'm sure Apple could buy it anyway.


Anonymous said...

Good post Dr. D. I would agree, there is no substitute for the iPhone. FYI, I use the Oakley Bluetooth dongle and a Motorola S9 headphone adapter to listen to Bluetooth music. It works pretty well as a work around.

I would love to have Apple design a PACS system. It is so frustrating to see vendors cut corners and pretty much disregard usability and ergonomic features to PACS systems. We really need some of these companies to start thinking outside the box.


Anonymous said...

I have a G1 and love it, it is lacking a few features such as multi-touch (apple patented) but it is open source and individuals are working on upgrades and new features all the time.

BTW I had a pearl before and for straight up email...the crackberry can't be beat. I also have an ipod Touch that basically only gets airport time now that I have the G1.

Do you have the osiriX app on your iphone? If so what are your thoughts? Thats a post I would love to read.

Anonymous said...

1 question - What do you think about products like Merge Mobile or IMPAX Mobile that allow radiologists to view images on their smart phones?

Also about Apple making PACS - I heard through the rumour mill a few years ago that Apple was interested in making a MAC version of eFilm. Merge with their crippled assests weren't able to put enough into the R&D of this and the idea died. Kind of makes you think what if...