The iSlate Will Be Announced In

July 23, 2008

Chopper Review

In an effort to cover all things iPhone, iPhonePOV inc., has purchased a new building in Boulder, Colorado which will serve as our review headquarters. This facility will be staffed by dozens of iPhonePOVers who will play all the latest games and fret out the good ones so you don't have to waste your time playing the bad ones.

Which brings us to our first review: Chopper

In a word, this game rocks. It's everything the classic game Choplifter was (if you owned a computer before 1995, you've played Choplifter) and so much more.

Gameplay is simple. You fly a helicopter (using a very well-calibrated tilt system) across various terrains and shoot bad guys while occasionally landing to pick up the good guys. When you've got all the good guys, you have to fly back to your home base and drop them off.

The first four or five levels are very easy and provide a good grasp of the game's mechanics. When you get to the higher levels, the game becomes much harder, which is when the fun really starts. Killing bad guys can be accomplished with bombs or an on board machine gun (both of which never run out of bullets) and flying is so well calibrated that you can hold the phone in a normal viewing position (unlike Monkey Ball) the entire time you're playing. Chopper also features a six slot save system that is fast, easy to use, and mandatory if you want to get past level 10. Although it can be a frustrating game, it's the good kind of frustrating, the kind that keeps you playing until you get the dreaded 10% battery warning.

At $7.99 it's a little more expensive than some games, but it is vastly better than 99% of the $10 games listed at the iTunes Store, so you get your money's worth.

Here's the overall rating (out of six triangles--because the five star systems are so 2007)

Gamplay: ∆∆∆∆∆
Stability: ∆∆∆∆
Graphics: ∆∆∆∆
Sound: ∆∆∆
Controls: ∆∆∆∆∆
Value: ∆∆∆∆

It's a good one. Highly recommended.

July 18, 2008

Free Nationwide WiFi (For iPhones)

ATT has finally opened up it's 17,000 WiFi spots for free use by all iPhone users. While there are gazoodles of these spots, almost all of them are in cities. The bigger the city, the more likely you'll bump into them. Most locations are hosted by a place where you're bound to spend money--which means the WiFi is only free if you have some self-control. If you're in need of speedy browsing, you can get your freeness on at most: Starbucks, McDonalds, Barnes & Nobles, Coffee Bean, and airports. To find specific locations, check out ATT's locater page.

Here's a hint, if you're stumble onto one of these locations, remember that the SSID password is: attwifi

July 16, 2008

iPhone 3G IS HERE

It's taken us a couple of days to post anything about the new iPhone because it took us a couple of days to get one.

Unlike the first iPhone, buying the iPhone 3G is a pain in the ass. First you wait in line for like way too many hours, then you wait outside the store, then you wait inside the store and then you finally get to sit down with a sales guy. He asks a couple of questions and clicks some info into a wireless computer that looks about as far away from an Apple computer as you can get, and then you wait some more. And then you wait some more. ATT and Apple are pointing fingers at each other's servers... but the whole thing is ugly when compared to the awesome simpleness of the previous iPhone's acquisition process.

After you get home, you've got to hook the thing up to iTunes and wait some more. Finally after like 30 hours of waiting and waiting, you're ready to play.

Was it worth the wait. Yes. And No.

Here's the good:

FEELS GOOD. Right off the bat, like every other website is saying, the new iPhone is very comfy in your hand. The new plastic back is also slightly tacky and as such almost grips your hand. It's not so tacky that it will attract lint in your pocket, but it does feel less likely to slip out of your hand.

MOBILE ME. This new service works pretty well, but it only pushes email from a .me/.mac account, so it's falls quite short of Blackberry's universal push features. That being said, it's pretty cool to send an email from your iPhone and see it in your "send" folder on your desktop a second later.

HEADPHONES. The input jack is no longer recessed, so you can use any earphones you like. This is not so much a good as it is a correction of a "BAD" from the previous model. Every headphone-capable device in the world (except the first iPhone) has this feature. Regarding the headphones themselves, the audio quality is the same, but it appears that Apple has changed the rubber that coats them. For lack of a better term, we would say the iPhone 3G headphones are more "Sproingy." Meaning the rubber the surrounds them is just a tad more resilient to bending. We think their new rubber-sproingy nature reduces headphone-pocket-tangle, which is a good thing.

APPLICATION STORE. This is great. You don't need the iPhone 3G for this, but it's still great. Tons and tons of cool applications and many of them are free. As is the case with almost everything in the world, you get what you pay for, so don't expect awesome games for free. That being said, there are some neat little diddies that are free and for five bucks you can get some pretty decent gaming in your pocket. We're particularly partial to Apple's 4.99 Texas Hold'em poker game. In the near future, we will start reviewing games and utilities that cost less then 5 dollars so you can be cheap and have fun too.

3G. Unlike EDGE, this actually works. When you are outside of WiFi you can reliably use the Internet. This is the biggest upgrade in our book. EDGE never worked in our Alaskan headquarters or our Miami distribution center, so the addition of 3G is nice. Also 3G calls (usually) sound much better than off the shelf GSM calls. That's good too.

GPS. Well, we're not so sure about this one. Yes, it's in there and yes, it works, but we don't see how it's all that much better than the Google Maps positioning that was in the previous model. We've tried out a couple of the Geo-tagging applications and can't see how they would be much use unless you were in Vegas for a bachelor party with 10 guys who all had iPhone 3Gs. We suspect there will be a killer app for this in the future which will change our opinion.

Here's the bad:

THE SCREEN IS YELLOW. Apple calls it warmer, which is a technological term for yellow. If you've been using the old iPhone for the last year, this "warmer" screen feels weird. That being said, it's not that big a deal. Everything that isn't white looks the same.

BATTERY. This thing is not as good as the first model. We don't really care if it's 3G or the GPS, the battery on this thing is almost unacceptable. Yes, we suppose it's possible to achieve all the long test times you've read about on various websites, but all of those tests are made with specific parameters in place. When you're just using the phone (like you will be) you're gonna find it runs out of batteries before it should--before the end of a normal day of sporadic use. That's too soon. Since we're not about to close down this website (and put 46 people out on the streets) we're keeping our iPhone 3Gs, but we're going to add some charging cradles in the rest-rooms. We'll keep you posted on our struggles with the battery and let you know if we find any solutions which significantly improve performance.

APPLICATION STORE. As great as the application store is, it's still seems a little buggy to us. A fair percentage of the applications are prone to crashing and sometimes a crashing application will initiate a 4 minute iPhone reboot. Four minutes is a really long time for a phone to reboot. Needless to say, if you're waiting on a very important call, we'd recommend not using a new application.

3G. Yes, it's better, but we think this puppy is guilty of using too much battery and we have noticed an alarming number (roughly 10%) of our 3G calls have a very short echo. Sometimes the caller can hear it and sometimes the callee can hear it. Never both. It's kinda like a satellite echo, but quicker. While it's not the kinda thing that you'll call back for... if your call is over a couple of minutes, you'll starting thinking... "I can't believe I waited in line for this..."

July 10, 2008

All You Hackers In Da Houz!

Say Yeah!

Some bozo broke about fifty laws (by digging through Apple's XML code on their servers) and found the unreleased iPhone 2.0 system software. If you're industrious, you can download the update, then open iTunes, hold down option and select the downloaded file. (If the file downloads as a .zip, be sure to change to the letters ".zip" to ".ipsw" (ditch the quotation marks.)

Be sure to back your iPhone up and don't come crying to us if it screws up your iPhone. This is a do it at your own risk kinda thing. But if you can pull it off, you can be able have much of what the 3G iPhone has to offer 23 hours before anyone else.

July 9, 2008

To Jott or Nott?

We know you're all consumed with getting your hands on a new 3G iPhone... but we thought we'd steer the boat in a different direction and throw a bone to current iPhone owners. (Yes, you'll be able to eat this bone with a 3G iPhone, but it won't taste any better.)

Which brings us to

Jott is a simple little service (yes, you have to sign up, but it's free and they only want an email address and a password--if you're not into sharing your email, you could use one from which lets you take notes, send emails and texts, set reminders and schedule calendar events (in Google Calendar and iCal) with your voice. Just your voice. That's it.

Here's how it works, You dial a toll-free number, speak your note or whatever, and a few minutes later Jott will translate your words into whatever you requested. If it is a reminder, fifteen minutes before the event, Jott will send you an email and a text with an exact transcription of the words you spoke. Utilizing their link to Google Calendar allows you to say "Meeting with Steve on Tuesday from 4:00 to 6:00" and a few minutes later, your Google Calendar will have a meeting blocked out on Tuesday from four to six (you can subscribe to this calendar with iCal.) This method is two times faster than finger-flipping through the spinwheels of iPhone's iCal.

You must check it.

--"Tennessee Jimmy B" contributed to this story.

July 8, 2008

iPhone 3G Cometh

Only a couple of days left until everyone trashes their perfectly good original iPhone and buys a slightly better one. The only thing left to decide is which color. (Oddly enough, most of our 23 staff members are leaning toward white, if only so we don't accidentally pick up our old black one when we're rushing out the door in the morning.)

Regarding the process of buying a new iPhone, expect the whole shabang to be a lot slower than last time. Current iPhone buyers will zip through the line fast enough, but you can count on oodles of late-adopters slowing down the process with mandatory credit checks and in-store activation. Oh yeah, if you're planning to buy an iPhone that will be billed to a corporate account, you can ONLY do that at an ATT store.

Here's the word straight from Apple's mouth:

If you buy at an Apple Store, look for a "Conciege" who will be wearing an Orange shirt, (we suspect 80% of the Apple Store employees will be wearing orange....) and be ready to share your:

• Credit card
• Social security number
• Valid, government-issued photo ID
• Your current wireless account number and password or PIN (If you're the kind of loser who isn't already with ATT)

Oh yeah, we'd also recommend staying away form the NYC Apple store. There is already a line there, which we think is really dumb, because there is no shortage of 3G iPhones, but based on the early cue, we'd think it's a good bet that place will be bogged down with all kinds of crazy people.

ATT has published their price plans and it looks like 3G is gonna cost about ten dollars more per month. Not that big a deal, but if they do that every year (which is a reasonable expectation for iPhone releases) our monthly iPhone bills are gonna be bigger than our social security checks (if and when we ever collect.)

The first reviews are out and everyone is saying it's good. Not great. But good. The biggest improvement appears to be the audio quality--specifically the speakerphone and the microphone. While we're sure that's true, no matter how you slice it, cellphones (especially static-prone GSM phones) are never gonna sound as good a landline. One reviewer received his iPhone with Steve Jobs direct line programmed into his favorites. He called the big-guy and asked him "why no turn-by-turn GPS?" Steve said the iPhone 3G's antennae is too weak to provide accurate turn-by-turn guidance. We think that's just like the the 3G battery lie that was spoon-fed to the public when the first iPhone was released. Along those lines, we'd be willing to bet the next iPhone will have the same 3G chip but will suddenly be able to perform turn-by-turn guidance.

Apple and ATT have both posted videos showing all the new iPhone 3G goodness. (Only one of the videos will play on an iPhone... can you guess which company posted that video?) If you're reading this page, you've already read about 99.99% of this goodness, but there's definitely something about hearing it again from the creepy big-headed guy who dresses just like Steve Jobs and won our hearts in this early demo of a potential cut-and-paste feature which has yet to come to fruition.

See you in line.