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Great Electronic Gifts Part 2: The iPhone

I resisted the transition from cell phone to smart phone for years.  As covered earlier in this blog, I find texting and playing on your phone during a meeting or when engaged with others the communication equivalent of passing gas in an elevator.  It’s rude and demeaning to those around you.

But, I love my iPod, and I found that carrying an phone and a PDA was really inconvenient.  So a few months ago when they came out with the new version I made the jump to the iPhone.  While I have to constantly resist the tempation to play with the with it when I am around others, I must say this is one of the greatest gadgets ever made!

Very easy to use, it interfaces seemlessly with my Outlook program.  In fact, I get my e mails on my iPhone faster than through the office network to my computer.  The calender is terrific, and on short trips I don’t bother to bring my computer, as I can handle my emails efficiently on the phone.

The best thing about the iPhone are the Aps – great little inexpensive or free programs you can dowload to the phone.  I get the NY Times on my phone daily – and for free – it a suprisingly readable format. I track my stocks, credit card expenses, and frequent flyer programs all at the push of a button.  The really interesting Aps use the GPS capability of the phone to help you pinpoint whatever you need.  If I am in New York and want to find an Italian restaurant within a few blocks I just use the phone.  It will even map the directions for me and give me multiple reviews.  I can find gas stations, banks, grocery stores, doctors….. the iPhone is like a tiny communications center that guides you wherever you want to go.  There are hundreds of Aps for almost every use, many of them really interesting and entertaining games.

And as a music player the iPhone is terrific.  The touch screen is easy to use, and in addition to playing your downloaded music, you can also stream music from music services like LastFM.com and Pandora.

The only dowside to the device is it’s mediocrity as a phone.  I switched from Verizon to the iPhone’s only carrier – AT&T – and have found the service to be much worse.  Call clarity is often poor, and there are frequent disconnects.

The Verdict on the iPhone.  If 90% of the reason you carry a phone is to use the phone, you should probably stick with a Verizon product. But if you are like me, and only use the phone as a convenience and are primarily interested in a handheld e mail and communication device, and not having to carry a separate music player, this is an incredible gadget.

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