Archive for the Category Hardware


iPhone Review

I haven’t had a cell phone worth writing about for two years. My venerable Sony i610 is now history, enter iPhone 2.0. Joel just did his review of the Nokia n71 so I hope there is room for one more geeks perspective on the iPhone.

My last Apple device, a 40GB iPod, was not worth the price of admission. The hard disk failed before I got my moneys worth. With a phone, you just need it to remain reliable for the length of the contract. That’s a minimum requirement. We will see how this device holds up long term.

Size & Feel

It’s larger than my last phone but much thinner. Walking around with the device in my pocket feels more comfortable than the Sony. In my hand it feels too slippery. It could really use some texture around the edges to help the user keep hold of it. I’ll be getting some sort of slip cover to help with this.

It does get a bit warm if you start using the networking or push the CPU.


It’s no computer keyboard but it works well. I’m writing this entire post on the phone. Since it’s slower than a full sized keyboard it may be helping to keep the word count down. I’ve never had a cell phone/PDA with a full keyboard so I can’t compare it to that experience.

The auto correction works well. You can mostly trust it to do the right thing even if you fat finger stuff.


It rocks. I’ve given the phone to a few people to do simple tasks like take a photo. So far I haven’t had to show them how to do anything.

Battery Life

I was really worried about this because of the reviews I had read. I have used the device now in two very different ‘modes’ with very different battery life results.

First I went to a 4 day conference in Orlando.  This involved traveling for most of the day, using airport and hotel WiFi, G3 data when there was no wifi, push e-mail etc. At the conference I got about 5 hours of screen on time each day before the battery went out. It’s clear that the biggest battery sync is video. You can just watch the bar go down over as little as half an hour. On my 2 1/2 hour flight to Orlando I switched back over to audio to save the battery. If this sounds like your typical usage then you might want to consider another device. If I was going to use the device like this ever single day I would want to double the battery life.

If I use the iPhone like I used my old phone I can go 4 days between charges! The WiFi is left on but does not auto connect. I only use the phone to make a few calls and texts. Most of that time I was in an area with no G3 coverage so that may have helped. 4 days is better than my old phone so I’m pretty happy about that.

Overall I think this works out well for me. The device is powerful and I can use it in when I’m on the road to stay connected. When I’m near a computer (which is most of the time) I can set it to have long battery life. Its a nice trade off, a super powerful device in your pocket when you need it.


When an app launches the browser you can’t return to that app from the browser. This is now a common task, send the user off to the Internet. Some mechanism needs to be added to return directly to the app that launched the browser. Twitterific is a great exception to this. The embedded apps need to learn from this.

The contacts interface sucks. I should be able to get to search from anywhere in the contacts list. As it is I have to scroll to the top of the list. In fact. Plus they have a bug where typing shows way down in contacts. The new 2.1 firmware totally fixed this issue. I would still prefer if the search view was the default view for contacts. I rarely scrolled through the contacts on my old phone.

If your using the Phone app and the phone rings, how do you answer it? There needs to be a button that indicates the current or incoming call.


This is really a mixed bag. Getting the UI right on the phone requires thought. I haven’t found the a todo app yet that I like, I may have to write one. A good note taker app would be nice too. The built in one is trying to be a little too much like paper.

The real kicker is the Remote app. This lets you manipulate iTunes over WiFi in your house! So if your in the garage all you need is some cheap speakers and an Airport Express and you are in business. Finally a good way to get online radio in the house.


It’s not as bad as some have said! Not for the serious 24-7 business user, ideal for more casual users. The 2.1 firmware fixed many issues. Go get one.

Cooky TV Output Stuff

I use my TV as a second monitor, its connected via component cable to my GeForce 6600GT. It’s been doing some weird stuff when full screen apps take over the TV display. When one of these apps exists the TV display looks torn at the top, like the resolution or refresh rate isn’t quite right. Nothing I have done seems to fix the problem.

Full screen video always works fine and always fills the televisions entire screen, these apps don’t seam to be the problem. Quitting from Media Center will cause the tearing as will any full screen game. To restore the screen the simplest thing to do is run the ‘TV Wizard’.

I can’t seem to phrase a search for this issue in less than 6 words. If you know where I should post a bug or can get help post a comment.


I build computers as a hobby and I fix friends computers as a courtesy. They often ask for advice but sometimes don’t listen. Others look at me funny when I say things like “Asus and Abit make good motherboards, for my money I don’t trust anyone else”. They have never heard of Asus or Abit and don’t know why they should pay $30 extra for a brand they have never heard of over some other brand they have never heard of. When I say that I have never heard of some particular brand you found a deal on its because it so small that it doesn’t even register on my radar. The reason I know these things is because I read hardware review sites daily and have done so for the past 6 years.

My Daily Reading:

[H]ard|OCP – The [H], as its known, is THE place for graphics card reviews. They have a particular methodology that is unique. They are also a great place for a daily dose of hardware and gaming related news. The forum is very active and covers hardware, modding and deals.

Anandtech – General hardware review site. Usually well written. Also covers industry trade shows. Good CPU reviews and comparisons.

Toms Hardware – Run by a German dentist. He knows his hardware and tests all sorts of kit. Covers trade shows, home networking, storage etc. Good motherboard reviews in particular.

Other places I check on occasion:

If you find some irresistible deal, and you have to ask if its any good, check these sites. If you cant find a review or a good word in any of the forums, steer clear. If I say I’ve never heard of it I just saved you lots of reading you didn’t want to do anyway.