Tag Archive for iphone

Smartphone Showdown

The time has finally come for me to upgrade to a smartphone. I need a QWERTY keyboard, and the Internet access functions would be nice for several reasons. My choice is down to the MOTO Q9c or the HTC PPC6800 (known as the Mogul on Sprint). If anyone out there has experience with one or the other, please let me know what you think.

Some quick background: I’m on US Cellular and this is what they offer. They’re a CDMA network, so unlocked phones are not an option. They have Crackberries, but I’m not paying an extra $15 for the Crackberry service. I’d prefer a Palm phone over a Windows Mobile phone, but US Cellular only has WM phones.

AT&T is not an option because their coverage sucks. If I were to buy an iPhone, it would be useless in a few months because AT&T reserves the right to cancel my contract since I’m in “partner coverage” 99% of the time. Verizon offers the next-best coverage in my area, but the Wife and I are full-time cellular and it’s not quite good enough. Nextel claims coverage, but I have yet to see that bear true for a few Nextel users. Even if I could get coverage, I’d have to wait until January when my contract expires, and I don’t have that kind of patience right now.

So. The Q9c or the PPC6800. Thoughts?

Update: I just found out I can get a Crackberry plan for the same price as a Windows Mobile plan. The extra $15 is only if I want to access corporate email, which I don’t. As such I can add Crackberry Curve 8330 to the Showdown.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Drinking the Apple Kool-Aid

One of the Apple execs I met yesterday made a good statement about their products: you don’t get it until you try it.

Apple users extol the virtues of their OS all the time. Three of my friends, including (former) die-hard PC user John Roling, have switched to Mac and vow to never go back. A school in Indianapolis employing a 1-to-1 initiative dropped their PC laptops in favor of MacBooks and couldn’t be happier. A Minneapolis-area school switched their 8 buildings from PC to Mac and offered to load Windows for anyone who wanted it; not one teacher requested it.

The rest of us ask “It costs how much?

The MacBook I purchased in December was my first real experience with a Mac, and it’s been growing on me ever since. Wednesday, on the way up to Chicago for our Apple briefing, my superintendent and I stopped off at the New Lenox School District 122. A teacher showed us how she used Macs, and I picked the tech coordinator’s brain about the back end. Both of them couldn’t be any happier with their Macs, and the downside on the back end is far from a deal-breaker.

That night, we hit the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue. I played with an iPod Touch. I fiddled with an iPhone, then browsed the MacBooks, Apple TV, and the iMacs. I chatted with the sales reps, and I damn near came home with an iPod Touch for the Wife.

Yesterday we sat in on the briefing, learned about Apple’s sales and growth, and got a lot of hands-on experience. We created a podcast in Garage Band in minutes (complete with pictures), and fiddled with a lot of the features that would really help in an educational setting, such as the built-in Dictionary and the Speech text-to-speech engine. We even got to see a lot of the thoughtful extras, like Webclips.

We drove home stunned.

Sure, I still have a few beefs. The closed nature of some of their products, for starters (the iPod Touch may be open to more developers soon, but the iPhone will be AT&T-only for some time). The lock-in to iTunes. The lack of true GPS on the iPhone and the Touch (every time someone tried to show me the triangulation feature, it failed or at least failed to build directions off of it). The way the Nike+iPod is restricted to the iPod Nano. And, of course, the price tag.

Yet it’s hard to argue with the value. Like people say, most of this stuff is just cool to use. Apple has put a lot of thought into the layout and design of both the hardware and the software, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about the system’s stability. OS X is loaded with features you just don’t get on Windows (or at the very least aren’t as polished in Windows), and the iPhone and Touch interfaces are an order of magnitude better than the Palm’s (there’s no stylus to lose, either).

The Wife scoffed when I told her I almost brought home a Touch for her. She had been looking at one of those credit card-sized photo viewers to show pictures to people, and she carries a calendar and address book in her purse. The Touch would fill all those functions and then some, saving her space in her purse and give her a much better screen and interface to boot. When I got home, I sat her down in front of my MacBook and gave her a tour of the Touch on Apple’s site. Sure enough, she’s impressed and looks forward to getting one in the near future.

Even tonight, despite my irritation in being forced to purchase an iPod Nano if I want to use the Nike+iPod gear when I try the Cool Running 5k plan this Spring, I found myself pricing out both the gadgets and a pair of Nike+ shoes or the Shoe Pouch. All day I’ve been trying to figure out if I should sync the Wife’s iPod Touch with my school MacBook or if I should buy an iMac for the family, and she doesn’t even have the damn thing yet. I yammered about Apple crap all night, and the Wife says I haven’t been this excited about computers in a long time.

Right now, if someone asked me what kind of computer they should buy, I would tell them “If you can afford it, buy a Mac. If you can’t, buy the best machine you can afford and slap Ubuntu on it.”

I feel so dirty.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Gonna Take a Bite Out of Apple

I’ll soon be writing one of these from a MacBook.

Sadly, it won’t be mine. At least, it won’t belong to me; I’ll just be hammering on it for the next several months. My boss, it turns out, has been impressed by what he’s seen out of Apple software and thinks there’s a lot to take advantage of in an educational setting. I don’t disagree, but the trick is a) working out how to fit it into our network and b) cost. The first isn’t a real obstacle, just something to be aware of. The second is a bit tougher for a small, rural school district.

“Buy one to evaluate,” he said. “We’ll worry about cost later.”

Sounds good to me! Besides, maybe there are ways to help with cost. Apple used to give free copies of OS X to educators when it first hit, so there’s got to be something they’d be willing to do to get a foot in the door at an all-Windows district. So I fired an email off to a rep. The work day was more than half over and we’re headed into a holiday, so I didn’t expect a response until next week. As such, I didn’t bother providing a phone number.

An hour later, I got a phone call. It was the rep, on the road.

He got my email, found our school website, and called, all from his car on his iPhone. Pretty slick iPhone commercial right there (it’s too bad his Cingular/AT&T connection didn’t live up to the same standard).

Next I was impressed by the rep himself. I figured he was just a good salesman out for a commission, but our conversation went very well. He spent more time talking about services and support Apple could provide to both myself and our teachers than how great their hardware/software is and how much money we’d have to spend to see discounts. The latter is all certain other vendors want to talk about.

That is, if they bother to talk to us at all after they find out we’re a small district not purchasing in large volumes. They fax me a quote and I never hear from them again. Some do provide tech support, but I have yet to have one tell me what they can do to help my teachers use technology in the classroom better, and I’ve been at this going on eight years.

If this Apple rep lives up to half of what he promises, it’s easy to see the value for purchasing the hardware. Especially when considering the deep education discounts offered on their software (which, by the way, includes teacher copies for home use, something certain other vendors rarely — if ever — provide).

So a sweet new MacBook will be headed my way next week.

Time to find out if the product itself lives up to the same promises.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.