Switching to iPhone – Day 5


Cases & Virtual Keyboarding

Spent an hour in a very crowded NYC Apple store looking to nab a case for my WinMo AT&T Tilt replacement, the new 32 GB iPhone 3GS.

What I found was a whole lotta not much–some were cool, but many crappy.  And I mean “what were they thinking!” kind of crappy, too.

After some mildly obsessive research this past weekend, I had already narrowed the selection down to two possible candidates, neither of which are currently available–one ships in July. The other, “back-ordered”.

Still, the thought of dropping my 3GS, along with the ensuing public humiliation of me crying like a little girl…?  I needed a stopgap case.

After striking out at Best Buy and an AT&T store, earlier (ugly and uglier — pricey and pricier), I dropped by the Apple store. I really should have known better–you’ll see why later.

The Apple store probably had about 10-20 different brands and styles of iPhone protection–anything from silicone or polycarbonate skins to leather cases and holsters, all with varying levels of aesthetics.

Not sure where to start, I had an idea: look for 3GS case reviews online with my 3GS.  Worked kind of well, too.

The Opportunity

Here was an opportunity for an impromptu, in the field, real-world, in-depth, research experience I would have normally reserved for my laptop. Trying something similar on my Tilt in the past had simply been a frustrated, teeth-gnashing experience.

Here’s the step-by-step…

  1. Squeezed between oodles of Apple gawkers for a coveted empty spot against the wall, directly next to the case rack.
  2. Whipped out my 3GS.
  3. Launched Safari.
  4. Was asked by 3GS if I would like to select a wireless network.
  5. Selected Apple’s free, unsecured, public hotspot.
  6. Was asked to move by Apple cleaning staff.
  7. Moved.
  8. Went to the great ilounge dot com site for it’s huge list of iPod/iPhone related reviews (another good site, theiphoneblog dot com).
  9. Was jostled by the mass of Apple patrons.
  10. Searched for reviews on Apple’s current selection of cases.
  11. Continued to be jostled by said Apple patrons.
  12. Started reading searched-for reviews.
  13. Was asked case-related questions by Apple patrons.
  14. Spent about an hour researching iPhone cases for myself and Apple patrons using my 3GS with it’s virtual keyboard on apple’s free WiFi.
  15. Narrowed down case choice to the $35 (for a piece of plastic? yikes!) Griffin Clarifi.
  16. Said goodbye to, and was thanked by, my Apple patron friends.
  17. Got in the very long checkout line.
  18. While waiting in line, used Amazon’s iPhone app to check the price of the Clarifi.
  19. Gaped at the Clarifi’s $21.95 price on Amazon.
  20. Walked out of the apple store.

Now, what did I learn from this experience?  Quite a bit, actually…

Web Surfing Experience

Web surfing on my 3G Tilt was like opening a box of Cracker Jacks and discovering  there’s no prize at the bottom–vaguely dissapointing.

On the 3GS, what can I say… it was very cool. The larger, multi-touch screen, along with mobile Safari, made the difference.

Web surfing performance? On AT&T? Sucks about the same.

On WiFi? The 3GS feels faster.

Virtual Keyboard

First, I’ve been a touch-typist since college–reaching up to 70 wpm in my sober moments.  The thumb-typing (thumbing?) popularized by the Blackberry has always seemed excruciatingly slow and tedious to me.

Typing on the 3GS virtual keyboard, however, was enlightening. After a minor learning curve, along with a couple questions answered by some passing Apple “geniuses”, my overall previous experience with the now supplanted Tilt–and it’s slider, tactile keyboard– was kind of obliterated into total and complete insignificance.

I found thumbing on the 3GS keyboard (in landscape mode) to be warp-speed-scotty faster and far more accurate than on the Tilt, or my wife’s Blackberry-like Samsung Blackjack II, for that matter. Correcting mistakes was also easier due to some typing tricks of the new iPhone 3.0 OS.

Adding to that, I wrote more than 500 words of this post on the 3GS while commuting home on the subway. I have tried this with the Tilt in the past, but the jerks, starts and overall clickity-clackityness of some of the older NYC subway cars made thumbing on the Tilt while maintaining my sanity all but impossible.

Finally, once off the train and above ground, I copied and pasted the 500 words from the iPhone’s Note app to my blog via the iPhone WordPress app I had previously downloaded from the App store. Copy and Paste, another new iPhone 3.0 feature (still find it kind of hard to believe this wasn’t in 1.0 and 2.0).

Other things I learned, or was reminded of…

First, Apple’s prices for 3rd-party accessories are freakin’ ridiculous.  Come on, $35 for something you can find on Amazon for $14 less? I told you, I should have known better.

Second, just because a 3rd-party accessory is sold by Apple, does not mean it’s the best product of its class. Or 2nd best. Or even 3rd. Honestly, looking at the iLounge case reviews (obviously subjective to iLounge reviewers), only 2 out of the bunch received an A. The rest were C+’s and below. Pathetic.

And last, I’ve met more sincerely nice people (patrons and geniuses) in an Apple store than in any other American store I’ve shopped–other than, maybe, Trader Joes.

So that’s pretty much it for this post. Stay tuned for more.

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