Que je voudrais vous presenter, messieurs et dames. Regardez bien je vous en prie!
Now, until yesterday, I was thoroughly uninterested in PDA's. You could keep your Blackberrys, your Treos. I just thought that was too much technology crammed into one cramped little device. Besides, they look like digital watches did in the 1970's.
Early digital watch:
An average Treo:
See the resemblance? Drab little black plastic square with teeny tiny silver buttons. It's about as metabolically exciting as a dry-erase board.
I know, I know. Some of you love your Treos because of what they do. They enable you to spend even more time ignoring the person you're having lunch with ("Just a sec," you chirp, "I gotta answer this email…") than you could with just your cell phone, but can you look me in the eye and say that you honestly love your Blackberry/Treo? Do you look at it and feel happy? Do you ever just take it out and look at it because it's pretty?
Well, Apple's here to fix everything, apparently.
The cause of Apple's identity swap is a palm-size wonder called the iPhone. It's like no other phone you've ever seen. Mostly, it's just a flat screen. Everything you do with it is driven by software, through a remarkable pointing device — your fingers. According to Jobs, the iPhone can do all that a phone can do, plus all that an iPod can do, and apparently very nearly all that a Mac can do, too.
It features a vertical screen that morphs into a horizontal one. When you flip the phone sideways, it plays your movies, TV shows and photos on a very wide, sharp 3.5-inch screen. Much of the rest of your business is done vertically, but because the phone runs a version of Mac OS X, Apple's desktop operating system, you can do many things in parallel. In his demo, Jobs flipped the phone in a natural, intuitive manner, while performing multiple tasks at once. He'd start off playing music or a video, then answer a phone call, then switch to the Web browser to look something up, then scan through his pictures, then send a photo via e-mail to the person he was talking to. (Probably not a good idea to do all this while driving.)
There are probably only a few of us who really need to have a cellphone, an iPod, a Web browser, a text chat system, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi all in one device wherever we go — maybe if you're an E.R. doctor or a FEMA official. (Maybe not a FEMA official.) For most of us, all this will be as necessary as a Hummer in Riverside. The real point is how the iPhone looks and what it says about the people who own it. And it looks marvelous. It's is 4.5 inches high, 2.5 inches wide, and less than half an inch thick. From the back it resembles an iPod, but in front the iPhone is like the winner of a design contest to make the iPod even flashier — all blackened glass framed by a thin strand of silver.
Ooooooooh. Me likey. Me want! Want, want, want!! GIMME!!
Of course, I know the score here. I might be able to afford one of those in, say, 2009. It's $500. You have to switch to Cingular. (I'm on T-Mobile and very happy with them. I pay a ridiculously low monthly amount for a massive amount of minutes. I've had good experiences with their customer service and so on and so forth.) And really, when it comes right down to it, I don't really need a combination phone/iPod/web-interface, etc. all in one place. My current phone works just fine as a phone and my computer does its job equally marvellously. I spend maybe a total of half an hour a day more than ten steps away from a computer whether at work or home.
But it's shiny! It does cool stuff! And it's a MAC.
I realize now that the reason PDA's have been so ugly and unappealing to me for so long is because they've been designed and used largely by people who've never noticed anything wrong with Windows nor dared to dream of anything more. Now Mac has a PDA and it's making my fingers ITCH with GREED!
In the meantime, though, remember a few months ago when I told you about that Nokia swivel phone I want? Well, they've updated it with two new colors and of course, it looks even cooler. It's the Nokia 7373 and it comes in a pretty, very feminine pink:
And the one I want, a sexy, manly combination of black and bronze:
All together, now! Oooooooooh.
Of course, they're not distributing them in the US, but you can get them on eBay, the same situation as my last cell-phone purchase which, in fact, has worked out swimmingly. The catch, of course, is that they're selling for about $300 and the phone I bought in the summer for $70 is still working just fine and looking great. Ergo, I have no excuse to even think about dropping that kind of money on a new phone. Still. Drool.
Well, maybe when my birthday comes in the spring, I can rationalize a purchase like that.
When I was a young teen, my mom took me and my brother out to the mall for the twice-a-year ordeal of buying new clothes for school and church. I remember zero-ing in on a black jacket that I wanted. I looked at the price-tag and oh, lordy! $450! Not gonna happen. My mom came over and looked at it and said, "I had hoped that you would miss this aspect of the family curse."
"Huh?" I said, "Family curse?"
"Expensive tastes coupled with an artistic temperament. Prepare yourself for a life of frustrated yearning, son."
She was right, of course.