iTopia, Limited

I learned a new word the other day: iPerbole.

This review of the iPhone (plus this addendum) seems more cool-headed than most, though — neither all gee-whiz about it nor venting hatred of everything Apple just because it’s Apple.

They tell me a few things about the iPhone that make me more certain that I’m better off without one, though, at least until some improvements are added.

The iPhone can display, but not edit, Microsoft Word and Excel documents and Portable Document Format files. Conversely, iTunes doesn’t provide you with a computer-editable copy of any notes you jot down in the iPhone’s Notes program (although it does back them up automatically).

One of my main uses for a PDA is as a portable notepad, but I have to be able to send my notes back and forth between the PDA and my laptop and modify them in either place, or it’s not any more useful to me than carrying around a paper notebook and pen (which I often do anyway).

Switching between iPhone programs happens almost instantly, but moving data between them is just about impossible without copy or paste commands.

Ugh. For me, anyway, an important part of processing my email is quickly filing away any info I may want to refer to later, which means cutting and pasting into my note organizing software or into Address Book or whatever, so that I can get the email message out of the inbox and into the archives.

Spending time online will, however, expose the sluggishness of AT&T’s barely-faster-than-dialup Edge data service.

The USB modem I bought to use with my laptop uses 3G, which is much faster, about as fast as a low-end DSL connection.

Typing a Web address or an e-mail message reveals another awkwardness: text entry. Without a real keyboard, you have to tap on an onscreen substitute that offers no tactile feedback and puts punctuation and letters on separate screens.

I’m a touch typist and have found that I get frustrated writing on a PDA, whether it’s by way of Graffiti or a touch-screen keyboard or whatever.

An awful lot of my computer time is spent during my long commute by way of BART and CalTrain, or while sitting at a café somewhere, where opening up my laptop usually isn’t any hassle. So as beautiful a piece of equipment as the iPhone certainly is, it doesn’t seem to suit my needs right now well enough for me to justify the price and the two-year commitment.

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