Archive for the ‘Wireless’ Category

One Minute Review: InCase Bamboo Slider Case for iPhone 3G

After accidentally knocking my original iPhone off my desk, which caused the glass screen to smash into a pretty spiderweb-like pattern that, thanks to my Invisible Shield screen protector, allowed me to continue using the smart phone as I stood in line to buy an iPhone 3G when it went on sale the next day, I decided it was time to surround the new one with a protective case.

Although I initially went with InCase’s leather-wrapped Slider Elan, I later chose the InCase black Slider (pictured on the left) as my iPhone 3G’s protective partner. The case’s tight fit adds minimal thickness to the 3G, and its lightly rubberized finish provides just enough grip to prevent accidental sleights of the hand, so to speak. I’ve also used Griffin’s Clarifi for iPhone 3G, but only on the couple of occasions when I needed to take a close up snapshot, thanks to the Clarifi’s built in lens, which corrects the iPhone camera’s farsightedness.

InCase recently sent me their new Bamboo Slider for iPhone 3G, and having just finished Green Gadgets For Dummies, I welcomed the new model’s reduced carbon footprint, thanks to the case’s composition of 40 percent recycled bamboo, 60 percent polycarbonate construction.

InCase says the bamboo pulp used to create the case comes from “reclaimed bamboo shards of materials such as construction scaffolding and chopsticks.”

In hand, the Bamboo Slider feels like plastic, though a deep whiff of the case’s backside betrays plywoody hints that evoke memories of under-construction new homes and lumberyards.

Bottom line: The inclusion of bamboo is an interesting novelty, but the case’s less grippy finish was reason enough for me to stick with the lightly rubberized Slider that’s served me well since acquiring my iPhone 3G.


One-minute review: Apple iPhone Bluetooth Headset sounds better second time around

In my quest to find the perfect Bluetooth headset I recently tried the Jawbone 2 but was less than satisfied with the results. Remembering the things I liked about Apple’s iPhone Bluetooth Headset that I owned (and promptly lost), I decided to buy another one. What I like most is how integrated the headset is – both the hardware and the user experience. Unfortunately the welcome price drop from $129 to $99 means Apple also dropped the bundled dual-purpose charging dock that accomodated both the iPhone and the headset. I still own my original dual dock, however the new 3G’s thicker base prevents it from fitting into the dock (though I managed to “fix” my old dual dock with a little chisel handiwork).

The Apple iPhone Bluetooth Headset still comes with the handy Travel Cable, which has a small recepticle for plugging in the magnetized headset contacts to charge both the iPhone and headset at the same time.

Like the original the headset automatically pairs with the iPhone the first time you connect them together, and the headset’s battery level appears in both locked mode and in the upper right status bar beside the battery meter. A very nice touch.

As with the original there’s no ear loop, so it’s one-size-fits-all or nothing if the headset won’t stay in your ear. It fits fine in mine, and this time around I’ll be sure to always cover the rubber ring around the earpiece to protect it from deteriorating the way my original headset did after just a few weeks of use.

And like the original there’s still only one button for turning the headset on and off and handling calls.

But unlike the original there’s one very important improvement that makes it possible for me to see past the headset’s weaknesses: It sounds great.

The louder, clearer sounds probably owes itself more to the iPhone 3G’s improved audio quality than the headset itself, but whatever the reason, I’m pleased with the improvement over my first one.

All told, I’ll take the all-in-one charging solution, tiny form-factor and ear loop-less design over any of the other headsets I’ve recently tried. Now if only the iPhone 3G’s battery life lasted longer would I’d actually care whether the iPhone Bluetooth Headset really offers the estimated 5.5 hoursof talk time Apple says it does.


eReader 1.1 update for iPhone widens your virtual bookshelf

In my post for Salon’s Machinist column I wrote that eReader for the iPhone (and iPod touch) is a dream-come-true for me.

I’m pleased to see that FictionWise is sticking to its words to offer frequent updates and improvements to the program.

The first update offers the following enhancements:

eReader for iPhone and iPod touch version 1.1 includes the following new features:

  • The ability to download eReader PDB files from web sites other than and, as well as personal content in eReader PDB format. For details see the Personal Content FAQ.
  • New options to: lock screen orientation, tap instead of swipe to turn pages, choose white text on black background, turn off page animation, and turn off full justification of text.
  • Ability to sort the on-device bookshelf by author, title, or download date.
  • Better error messages and several bug fixes.

Linux-based cellphones promise better personal security

A few days ago I wrote a post for Salon about programs to protect smartphones from viruses and malware, this story about Linux-based cellphones in today’s New York Times takes the conversation in a new and interesting direction. To wit:

Regarding security, the new phones will be able to identify their owners. If, by chance, a stranger uses the phone and requests downloads at odds with the owner’s profile, Mr. Gillis said the phone’s security feature will kick in and shut it down. Profile information would also make it easier for a consumer to find points of similar interest when they are traveling in, say, Barcelona or Kyoto.


Ten iPhone 3G impressions: Good, bad and ugly features, faults and bugs

Ten off-the-cuff comments about the iPhone 3G after three weeks of day to day use, in order of brain-dump relevance:

1. Applications: The single most important improvement over the original, opening up the already amazing device to all manner of multiple-personality possibilities. My personal favorite is eReader, and others include PayPal and eBay and NY Times, while Facebook and iScopes represent two dedicated apps that are still better served by accessing mobile editions with Safari. Facebook app’s mobile pic upload is cool, yet status updates don’t appear, and iScopes requires a tap of the back button to select next horoscope category, whereas the Safari mobile edition has a Next button. But make no mistake – the iPhone 3G’s killer app is apps.

2. Speed bumps: The jump to 3G is a good thing. Browsing websites and auto-checking mail are now matter-of-fact processes, though the hit on battery life is evident with heavy usage.

3. Speed slowdowns: Overall the 3G feels slower than the original when switching applications or doing things like accessing contacts and checking SMS text messages. I’m guessing the ability to run multiple apps while running with Push turned on are causing the slowdown, though turning off Push didn’t seem to make much difference, so I’m interested to hear what others think.

4. GPS: Sweet and surprisingly accurate in my experience. No turn-by-turn navigation yet, but I expect it’s coming sooner than later. Ditto for a 3G version of Nike+, which I use on the nano, and am so looking forward to using with the 3G.

5. Cut and Paste: It’s still missing, and it’s still my number 1 wish-list item. While the new notepad app MagicPad demonstrates cut and paste is doable, I can’t understand why Apple is taking so long to bring such a basic feature found on every other smartphone in the world.

6. Notes: Still no sync with desktop app like Stickies or Outlook, which sucks.

7. Bluetooth: Problem accessing voicemail with certain headsets; one of mine worked as a headset but not when listening to voicemail, the other worked fine. Obviously a bug that will likely be addressed in update.

8. Sound: Louder and clearer speaker and speakerphone than the original, which is a very good thing, though strange bugs like no user interface sounds at times, which come back only after I connect and disconnect Bluetooth headset.

9. Contacts: Finally, the ability to do what every other cellphone has been able to do since creation: search contacts.

10. USB connector: Sucks that the new 3G doesn’t stand in my original iPhone dock, though the new shape and all-around fit, finish and feel in the hand are definitely more appealing than the first iPhone.


Smart phones that top the holiday list, by Joe Hutsko

Smart phones that top the holiday list
These phones will let you send text messages, email and listen to tunes
By Joe Hutsko


On MSNBC – Cool holiday tech: Headphones, by Joe Hutsko


Cool holiday tech: Headphones
Ditch your junkie freebie headphones for one of these sweet-sounding sets
By Joe Hutsko


On MSNBC: High “wow” factor - Apple’s Leopard upgrade is feature-rich

On MSNBC: Hi “wow” factor: Apple’s Leopard upgrade is feature-rich
By Joe Hutsko

Also: Five coolest Leopard features


On MSNBC: iRegret: Apple’s smartphone isn’t so smart

iRegret: Apple’s smartphone isn’t so smart
No measurable improvements to this remarkably inventive device
By Joe Hutsko

Also: Five cool iPhone apps you can’t use


One Minute Review: Invisible Shield screen protector for iPhone (and Treo)

The folks at Shield Zone sent me half a dozen iPhone and Palm Treo Invisible Shield screen protectors to try out.

While Apple’s iPhone has hardened glass that seems impervious to scratches (as demonstrated by CNET and a few other sites), the super-smooth screen is a total smudge-magnet.

Hours after owning the iPhone I began to perfect the left-pec-screen-wipe maneuver to swipe my screen clean on my tee-shirt every so often. So though the Invisible Shield is meant to protect your screen from scratches with its ultra-strong plastic material, I’m more grateful for the way it minimizes the smudge factor with its watery finish that offers a bit more tactile touch-feedback under the fingertip.

I blew it on the first two I applied - mostly because I was hyper-aware of not touching the sticky side of the sheet because I was afraid a fingerprint would appear. Following the directions, I sprayed both sides of the sheet (and my fingertips) with the supplied fluid and set it onto the screen, sliding it this way and that to align with the speaker hole and the home button at the bottom of the iPhone. Because I feared time was of the essence I tended to do my best to move it in place, then, using the supplied squeegee, squeeged out bubbles. Both times I found dust beneath the surface of the Invisible Shield.

Trying a third time I was super-careful to make sure there were no dust particles on the screen, sprayed my fingertips and the shield, then applied it and took a little more time to get the fit exactly right. This time I nailed it - but at $14.95 a pop, take my advice, don’t worry so much about being gentle, and concentrate more on making sure you have no dust on your screen, or your fingers, and then take a deep breath and relax as you move the slightly slippery screen this way and that to get the fit just right.

Once you do, squeegee away the fluid, and if possible, keep your hands off the iPhone for the recommended 24 hours. That wasn’t possible for me, and in my case it didn’t matter - as the Invisible Shield “dried” it seemed to tighten up nicely and I’m absolutely pleased with the fit and finish.

Sheild Zone offers a costlier version that provides the same plastic protection for the backside of the iPhone, however I skipped that, as I’m only concerned about the screen staying scratch-free and, the real win for me, lessening its smudge showoff factor.

As an aside, I also applied the Invisible Shield for Palm’s to a Treo 680 and it turned out great, though I have to say the feel of using a stylus against the shield’s slightly tacky surface feels a bit stuttery rather than smooth.

The iPhone shield texture feels the same, but under the fingertip it feels like there’s less drag/stutter.

Bottom line: The Invisible Shield for iPhone (and Treo and other devices) offers great protection while hiding smudges.


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