Archive for July, 2008

iPhone 3G Case review: SwitchEasy CapsuleRebel

Updated: 08/08/08 – See the bottom of the article for a fairly negative update.

I’ve been on the lookout for a case for my new iPhone even before my iPhone was purchased.  I had been waiting for iSkin to come out with something new, though I wasn’t excited by the look of their “Revo” case series for the original iPhone.

What was I looking for, then?  Well, I wasn’t really sure.  I like the idea of a “jelly” style case, since it would give me more grip (the iPhone seems a bit slippery to me), but I really didn’t like the thought of pulling something the size of an iPhone out of my pocket if it were covered in silicone.

Last week, I saw a new product announcement on macnn.com from a company called SwitchEasy.  I looked at the images on http://switcheasy.com/ and thought it looked perfect.  It has a rubberized case, with a polycarb shell that covers parts of the back and sides.  The portions covered with the hard shell are sort of carved out of the rubberized material.  The end result is a hard shell covering the entire top, several areas along both sides, and the bottom corners, with a tough yet grippy material covering the rest.

It arrived today!  I tore open the bag and looked over the contents of the package.  It looks a bit nicer in the photos on the website than it does in person, and it seems to make the iPhone a bit thicker than I expected (again, from looking at the photos), but it does look like it will do a pretty good job at protecting it.  I do like the fact that it seems to be less slippery than the iPhone without the case, yet I don’t have trouble getting it in and out of my pocket.

It comes with some other accessories too.

First, the one that I’m most disappointed in: The screen protectors.  It includes two.  Now, this was my first attempt to add a screen protector to an iPhone, but I failed horribly with these.  I cleaned the screen very well, but after removing the sheet of plastic that covered the adhesive side, I ended up with some dust between the screen and the protector.  I tried to get it off, but failed.  Since I couldn’t quite get the first one on perfectly, I tried the second one and had the same problem.  Perhaps it is my lack of skill at applying these, or perhaps I expect too much in the way of perfection, but these screen protectors both ended up in the trash.  I think some brands of screen protectors stay attached via static cling, but since these use a very light adhesive, there’s nothing you can do if you get them dirty.

Next accessory:  A cleaning cloth.  About 1/2 the size of the one that comes with the iPhone.

Next: A stand.  Yes, it includes a stand so that you can prop your iPhone up on the side.  It seems to actually work quite well..

Next: A dock insert so that you can dock your iPhone while in the case.  Nice touch (too bad I don’t have a univeral dock).

Overall, I think this was a pretty good purchase.  I just wish I could have done a better job installing the screen protectors.

UPDATE: Since I’ve now used this case for almost two weeks, I have one additional comment about it.  The hard plastic material that fits into the grooves scratches easily.  Very easily.  Mine is extremely scratched (as in literally hundreds of tiny scratches) in less than two weeks, which seems very odd to me because it only gets slipped into my pocket, almost exclusively there by itself.  (I can think of one time I had a small piece of paper in there as well.  It wasn’t sandpaper, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at my case now!)  Other than that, I occasionally lay it on the back (screen facing up).

July 28, 2008 at 7:09 pm Leave a comment

iPhone 3G verdict: Worth every penny!

After having my new iPhone 3G for a little over a week now, I can state that it is by far the best phone that I’ve ever owned.  Surfing the web on my old phone (a Motorola L2) was such a joke that I almost never used it.  I had previously tested the original iPhone and loved the way it surfed the web, but just couldn’t get past the up-front cost.

The sound quality on voice calls is great. The fact that while on a call, I can hit the home button and browse the Internet, or check e-mail is pretty awesome too.

iPod functionality is extremely intuitive.  In fact, I have only owned one iPod before (an iPod nano, bought just about a year ago).  Whenever syncing, I almost always ended up with iTunes telling me that the iPod was corrupt, and had to restore it multiple times before it would actually work again.  I’m now convinced that my nano is defective, because I attach my iPhone up at least once a day and I’ve never had trouble syncing at all.

Building on the iPod functionality, I’ve found that shows recorded in SageTV then converted (by SageTV) to the iPhone format play back smooth as silk (though the screen width does seem to be slightly scrunched when watching converted SageTV shows – Haven’t tried it with BeyondTV yet).

The camera.  This has me a bit puzzled.  Just about every phone has a camera built-in now, and they almost universally suck.  I’ve read many, many complaints about the camera in the original iPhone and even more groaning when people heard that the iPhone 3G uses the same camera.  But honestly, the camera built into my 3G is fine.  It takes the best pictures of any phone camera I’ve ever used.  It’s not as nice as our dedicated kodak digital cameras (no zoom or flash), but it takes acceptable pictures when I’ve forgotten our kodak.

Maps is pretty nice as it is.  The ability to quickly and easily get a map to find a business is really nice.  I’ve been a little concerned since I’ve read that Apple won’t let any 3rd parties do turn-by-turn on the iPhone, but I recently read that they were adding new features to the API to let GPS also give heading information and speed.  Could it be that Apple doesn’t want anyone else writing this sort of software because they are working on it themselves?

Anyhow, most of the other features either are nice-to-haves (the stopwatch and timer built into the clock app, the calculator, notes, stocks, and weather all come to mind), and others could be a bit better (like email), but all-in-all, it’s the best phone I’ve ever used.

July 27, 2008 at 8:35 pm Leave a comment

AT&Ts iPhone errors

I’ve wanted an iPhone since the first one was released, but couldn’t see parting with the money required to get one.  Since my AT&T contract is up, I’m eligible for the $199 price, so this new iPhone is priced right in my ballpark.

On July 11th, I set out from home around 7:15 AM to buy an iPhone.  From reading about last years launch, I figured my best bet was to go to an Apple store.  I arrived about 7:40 and was shocked at the length of the line.  There must have been 80 people in line.  At this point, I started to think that I should have stopped for breakfast!  I began patiently waiting in line and talking to the woman who walked up just seconds after I did.  After a few minutes, I noticed that an Apple employee was walking down the line.  He was a few people ahead of me in line when he said something that really caught my attention.  He told a customer that they couldn’t sell an iPhone to anyone who recieved any sort of discount on their service through their employer.  He emphasized this by saying that he, an Apple employee, could not buy an iPhone at the Apple store because he got a discount on AT&T service through Apple.

After giving this some thought, I attribute this restriction on Apple store sales to AT&T wanting to get any many sales directly through their locations as possible, since they probably make more money this way.  Sure, I know that both AT&T and Apple are corporations looking to make as much money as possible, but at least Apple tries to do it such a way to not terribly inconvenience their customers, while AT&T cares not about us.

After hearing those words come from the Apple employees mouth, I decided to stop wasting my time at the Apple store, and headed back across town to an AT&T store.  I grabbed a bite to eat on the way, since I knew I was in for a long wait.  When I arrived at the AT&T store at just about 8:05 AM, there were probably 70 people ahead of me.  I pretty much knew that I was not getting an iPhone on launch day at this point.  Still, hope springs eternal, so I waited.  After about 50 minutes of waiting, word came that while they may not have enough phones for everyone in line, they could do “direct fulfillment” orders, so that you could get one shipped to the AT&T store with your name on it, and that when it arrived, you’d get a call and could come pick it up.  Since I had already invested about an hour, I figured I’d stick around and get an order in.

Now, in what I have to say is the most insane lie I heard that day, the AT&T people kept saying they didn’t know how many iPhones they had.  Why wouldn’t they simply count the people in line, and say “We have 50 phones, so these first 50 people can buy”?  Actually, I have a theory.  They wanted everyone there to get so much time invested in standing in that line, that they would wait around and order one from that store.  This goes back to my “AT&T doesn’t care one bit about their customers” theory.

Anyhow, with AT&T’s devious plan working brilliantly, things hit a snag.  They finally ran out of iPhones, and so started letting people buy through “direct fulfillment”.  That’s when they noticed that their system wasn’t charging sales tax on direct fulfillment orders.  After working with people on the phone for a while, they announced that they would be unable to perform direct fulfillment orders at this particular location because of the newness of the store meant they weren’t set up properly for direct fulfillment orders.

WHAT?  You mean in the YEAR this store has been opened, they haven’t noticed this?  Do they always push their stock on customers and never order phones through this great direct fulfillment process?

At this point, I left, having completely wasted 3 hours.  I went in to work, basically missing a half day for nothing.

This is the part of the story where things look a bit better for AT&T.  When I got off that day, I went to the AT&T store closest to my home (one that I know has been there for years, but it’s in an area I wouldn’t want to spend much time alone after dark).  After waiting about 3 minutes, I got to talk to an AT&T person who entered my direct fulfillment order.  About 10 minutes later, I was done.  One of the options on the order was for upgraded shipping.  I figured that I’m waiting several days now, so whats a few more and opted for the standard free shipping.

I gave them my email address as part of the order process and got email updates from them about the status of my order.  This morning at 3:01 am (Saturday, a week after my hours of waiting in line), I got an email indicating that it had shipped. I clicked into the link, then clicked the Fedex tracking number and saw that it was actually shipped Friday.  Ok, so I figured it would be here Monday or Tuesday, but then I noticed that it was set up for Saturday delivery.  So, without me spending money to upgrade my shipping, they shipped it next day with Saturday delivery.  Wow.  It showed that it was on the Fedex vehicle at that time.  Now, I’ve been periodically checking the tracking this morning, and it still shows on the truck.  While finishing this blog entry up, they actually called my cell to tell me that it had arrived.

With AT&T’s unstoppable lust for money, I’m shocked that they bumped my shipping up to next-day with Saturday delivery.  Perhaps someone at AT&T is trying to stand up for the customer, even if it costs them a bit of profit.

July 19, 2008 at 9:07 am Leave a comment


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