AT&T Finally Brings Tethering to the iPhone: What you should know…

One of my main AT&T/iPhone complaints has finally been addressed. Ever since the iPhone 3G (and for some, the original iPhone) came out two years ago, I wondered why AT&T was so adamant about NOT allowing you to tether (use your iPhone as a modem/WiFi hotspot) your iPhone to your laptop and share its 3G data connection. After all they allow this with every other smart phone they sell and they even sell 3G data cards. Also no one ever expected this to be FREE. So I never really got why this was such a big deal? Granted AT&T couldn't do it alone and it would require built-in support by Apple in the iPhone OS (iOS). However, that support came in iPhone OS 3 LAST YEAR. So what took AT&T a YEAR to allow it on the iPhone for us in the US? They claim that they still needed to tweak their network to allow the influx of additional data traffic. While this may be true, the thing is since it's not FREE, not everyone is going to do it. Also it's not something you're going to be using all the time or would you?


Data Plan caps may have been the real issue

I don't doubt that AT&T needed to (and still needs to) work on "the world's fastest 3G network" to get it ready for even the slightest increase in traffic, but I suspect that an even larger issue was not wanting you to be able to pay a flat fee and have unlimited use. Even when you go with a $60/month 3G data card from AT&T there is a 5GB/month cap on it. Up until now all iPhone plans have been "UNLIMITED" data. So while the amount of 3G data that iPhone users currently consume must be HUGE, I'm sure giving users unlimited tethering would have brought this fragile network to its knees.


Do you want unlimited iPhone 3G data or do you want tethering?

Continue reading “AT&T Finally Brings Tethering to the iPhone: What you should know…”

Wacom Intuos 4 Wireless: Video Review

When I'm in Photoshop and I don't have my Wacom Tablet I feel naked! I've become so used to it that I won't retouch a photo without one. One of the things I've always wanted was a WIRELESS Version. As a matter of fact during my part of the Adobe Creative Suite 5 launch I was walking around with a Cintiq 12wx.

It was really wired to a Mac Pro, they green screened it out to give the allusion of it being wireless. Although we're probably still a ways off from having enough wireless bandwidth to do a wireless Cintq, we are at a time where we can have a wireless Intuos 4! Here's just a few minutes of video featuring the Intuos 4 Wireless Edition:




The Particulars

The tablet is using Bluetooth and therefore it's Mac and PC compatible. I'm using it above in the video with a NEW MacBook Pro 15" and Photoshop CS5. Most of the Creative Suite design tools support pressure sensitivity. It has 2048 levels of pressure and an 18 hour battery life per charge. It charges over USB with the same supplied cable that can also be used for a wired connection if the battery dies. The Battery is user replaceable. The wireless range is 10 meters. More specs here.

Continue reading “Wacom Intuos 4 Wireless: Video Review”

Jawbone MyTalk

A few weeks back I reviewed the NEW Jawbone ICON Bluetooth headset. I continue to be impressed by this headset and it is now my default Bluetooth headset for voice communications. It even works with my WeePhone VoIP App for iPhone. One of the features that I wasn't able to review at the time was the new Jawbone MyTalk service. However, since that time I have been accepted into their Private Beta program. This is the first headset that I've seen or used that can not only be upgraded via your computer, but it can also be enhanced with additional options. One of the first things that I had to try out was the ability to download and install a different voice. You might be wondering why a Bluetooth headset has a "voice?" Actually the Jawbone ICON can give you verbal feedback. For example, if you press the button when you're not on a call it will read back the remaining talk time based on the current charge. I opted for a better voice. I really like The Ace voice. I love the accent 🙂

Continue reading “Jawbone MyTalk”

Logitech Harmony Adapter for Playstation 3


Although I’ve had a Playstation 3 in my home theater setup pretty much since they introduced it, there has been one thing that has always bugged me about it and that is that there really wasn’t a great universal remote solution for it. Granted I’ve used work arounds such as the Nyko Playstation 3 remote/adapter, but it didn’t allow for 100% control over all functions such as power on/off. It also occupies one of the PS3’s USB ports. So needless to say, I was happy to see Logitech come out with an adapter that is 100% functional!

Continue reading “Logitech Harmony Adapter for Playstation 3”

iPhone 3G S Review and a little fun with Woz

iphone3gsinmyhand1 The iPhone 3G S is Apple's newest offering for an already insanely successful product. The iPhone's success has exceeded everyone's expectations and even the naysayers can't deny that Apple came from nowhere and all of a sudden became the market leader that every other phone maker now aspires to be like. If you don't believe me, look at all the other smart phones that were recently released and you'll see "me too" like features and advertising. So what do you do when you have one of the most successful phones ever created? You improve it to keep the momentum going. My original iPhone review 2 years ago has had over 135, 000 reads. If you Google "iPhone Review" mine will come up on the first page. The reason for this success is that my first review was one of the most in depth reviews written. I spent almost 24 hours writing it. Then the iPhone 3G came out last July and I followed up with another in depth review. Now it's time to take a look at the iPhone 3G S, however, this review will not be anywhere near as long or in depth as the last two. It's not because I don't feel like writing, it's just that there isn't as much to cover that I haven't already said. If you have read my iPhone 3G review last year and my iPhone OS 3.0 Review a few days ago, you're 95% there in knowing about the New iPhone 3G S. (Also see my iPhone 3G S Unboxing Video here). Continue reading “iPhone 3G S Review and a little fun with Woz”

Why the Palm Pre won’t be the next big thing


Being a gadget guy I’m expected to know all about the latest high tech toys. If you’ve followed this blog over the last couple of years, you’ll know that when it comes to a cellphone, the iPhone is my phone of choice. I’ve pretty much ignored everything else that has come out since, because there was nothing compelling enough for me to look at. At least not until today! Today is bitter sweet for me. The reason is that prior to the iPhone I was a Palm guy! My Palm Treo 650 was my trusted device and although Palm came out with newer models, they were based upon the Windows Mobile platform, in which I had no interest. Sure there were newer Palm OS devices, but nothing significant enough for me to upgrade. As a matter of fact, I remember standing in line at the 2008 Macworld Expo Keynote saying that “if the iPhone is not announced today, I’ll be heading over to the store to get a new Palm Treo.” Well they did introduce the iPhone and I haven’t looked back…

The Palm Pre looks great!

I’m certainly not here to knock the Pre. I have no reason to. From everything I’ve read and seen so far, it looks like a GREAT device. Palm certainly did their homework by looking out at the market leaders and seeing what features they were missing and making sure that their new device had them. There’s no question in my mind that the Pre has the things that the iPhone has been lacking.

Palm looked at the iPhone and said Ah-Ha, the iPhone doesn’t have Cut, Copy & Paste, MMS, multitasking, etc. so let’s make a phone that has all the things that the iPhone doesn’t have and we’ll win people over to our phone. There’s no doubt that people wanted Copy & Paste, MMS, etc.  for sure, but they wanted those features on their iPhone. Those features are not new or revolutionary by any means. Even my Palm Treo 650 had them years ago. That’s what Palm and other competitors are clueless about. There are probably very few iPhone users out there, if any just waiting to jump ship when someone else comes out with a touch screen phone that has those missing things. Most iPhone users ARE frustrated by the lack of MMS messaging for sure, but they’re willing to live without it to have all the other benefits that the iPhone offers.

Competition is GOOD!

One thing that I’m elated about is the fact that the Palm Pre and others have kept Apple on their toes. Many of the advantages that the Pre had over the current iPhone such as Cut, Copy & Paste, MMS, Turn-by-Turn directions, System Wide Search, etc. all go away in about 48 hours with the expected release of the iPhone OS 3.0 update. Let’s face it, many of these features should have been on the iPhone since day one! We may have never seen them if there wasn’t any competition. So I definitely welcome the Pre and any other competitor that’s going to keep Apple and Blackberry on their toes. It makes it good for all of us.

The iPod factor

Any Palm user or other smart phone user will argue that their phones can play music and video. The new Pre is even said to (unofficially, via a hack) sync with iTunes. However, no matter how slick the built-in player is, it’s not an iPod. While it can play MP3’s and AAC files, it will not have support for your iTunes purchased content that has Fairplay copy protection. While you could argue that most of your music was ripped from your CDs and recent iTunes music purchased (or upgraded to iTunes Plus) is copy protection free, chances are you still have some music and videos/movies that won’t play on the device. So now you’d have to pick and choose what you could take with you and what you couldn’t.

One of the main reasons that the iPhone was so successful was that Apple had already done a fantastic job of getting iPods into just about everyone’s pockets. Therefore, people were already used to the experience and already able to play ALL of their content. So when the iPhone came out, people would finally be able to combine two devices that they were already carrying into one: their cellphone and their iPod. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at this way then: just about every phone sold today can play music, so why do most cellphone owners also have an iPod?

The App Store is the killer app

Lastly the Apple App Store is the iPhone’s Killer App. Although Palm has enjoyed 3rd party development for years, it hasn’t seen anything close that resembles the run away success of the App Store. In 10 months time the App Store went from 1,000 apps to over 40,000 apps and over one billion downloads. The iPod touch is the secret weapon. There are lots of people out there that for many reasons just won’t buy an iPhone. Mostly I hear it’s the AT&T thing. No arguments there. However, Apple makes another device that gives you the same experience of the iPhone without the phone and it’s called an iPod touch. So this means that developers can write an app and have a much larger market to sell that app to if they make it compatible with the iPod touch and most 3rd party apps are compatible. Developers have a finite set of resources and time. This means that they are going to develop apps for the “platform” that has the most potential users (seats). Today, that’s the iPhone hands down.

What about price?

11 people lined up outside my local Sprint store at 10AM
11 people lined up outside my local Sprint store at 10AM to buy the Pre
Hundreds of people lined up to buy an iPhone 3g at every store
Hundreds of people lined up to buy an iPhone 3g at every store

Price is certainly important, but price alone is not enough. There have always been cheaper MP3 players than the iPod. There are certainly cheaper phones than the iPhone. When the iPhone first came out, hundreds of thousands of people lined up Friday, June 29th 2007 to pay $499-$599 and sign a 2 year contract with AT&T. They sold out by Monday morning. The first iPod had a 5GB hard drive and was introduced in 2001 at $399. Do I really need to go on? Yes, price matters, but it’s not the only factor and obviously for many it’s not the main factor.

The Pre is for Business Users and the Productivity Minded

I remember all the press that the iPhone got about how no business user in their right mind would use an iPhone. After all, there’s no physical keyboard. Balmer outright laughed at the iPhone and thought both the touch screen and price were ridiculous. Now EVERY phone manufacture has come out with a touch screen phone and is either in the process of launching an app store or has launched one.

The Palm Pre on the other hand has both a touch screen AND a nifty keyboard that slides out. The Blackberry has maintained models with a physical keyboard too. Blackberry conceded and came out with a touch screen that “clicks”, WOW! That’s innovation! No one would argue that the Pre’s keyboard is a nice implementation and probably faster to type on. However, having an onscreen only keyboard doesn’t seem to be a show stopper for most.

Even with all the naysayers, somehow the millions of individual and business iPhone users (like me) seem to be doing just fine without a physical keyboard. So maybe you can do real work with an iPhone? I seem to see business users using them every time I travel. I do corporate work on my iPhone everyday and my fingers are huge. 🙂

When it comes to productivity it’s about Contacts, Calendaring, Email, Making Calls, Taking Notes, etc. It remains to be seen how well the NEW Palm Pre will do in these areas. Certainly productivity is one of Palm’s strengths. However, it’s also a strength of Blackberry and with the multitude of 3rd party apps on the iPhone, I’m not hearing much complaining in this department. The iPhone’s calendar could definitely use some improvements, but even if the Pre’s calendar is the best calendar on the planet, it won’t be enough. Why? Because the calendars on all the other phones out there are “good enough” for all but the die hard power users. So even if the Pre gets this area PERFECT, it won’t be enough simply because their aren’t enough people that care enough to switch.

The Bottom Line

Like I said, I have no doubts that the Palm Pre is a great device! I’m sure that Palm spent a lot of time getting this device right. However, Palm missed the opportunity, rested way too long on its laurels and doesn’t have the money to overtake the iPhone or the Blackberry. Palm never made any significant updates to their OS. They never really made a phone hardwarewise that was kick ass! They could be where Blackberry is today, but they fumbled time after time. While the Pre has features that the iPhone doesn’t have (multi-tasking, removable battery, etc.), it’s not just about features! Look at the Zune, any Microsoft user would tell you that it out features the iPod. Yet, I’ve NEVER seen ANYONE using a Zune in person, nor do I know a single person that owns one. This is from a company that has way more money than Apple.

It’s going to take LOTS of money! When you watch TV, not a day goes by that you don’t see an ad for an iPhone, iPod or Blackberry. In order to compete for the mindset of their intended market, it’s going to cost a LOT of money, which Palm just doesn’t have. The biggest and most telling sign for me that the Pre won’t be the next big thing is that I have some pretty techie friends and outside of Larry “The Palm Guy” Becker, not a single person has even mentioned the Pre to me, let alone said they were going to buy one. Then who’s going to buy the Pre? The Pre will definitely sell to existing Palm users! No question about that. It will also appeal to those users who are all about the features and nothing else. Those are typically the ones telling you about how much better their ______ is over what you have, even though what you have is the number one seller. Anti Microsoft and anti Apple folks will be interested too. It should also sell to the people that are moving up from lesser phones and of course Sprint customers that don’t want to move to another carrier. Other than these select groups of people, Palm is going to have a major uphill battle. Luckily for them, it’s either do or die. When you have everything at stake, you usually try really really really hard to succeed or you disappear. There is definitely hope for Palm when you see folks like this woman who was very excited to get one! 🙂

Palm may make it to the number 3 spot, but this is a stretch (and only if they do everything right and have an absolutely KILLER DEVICE). Also Nokia, Apple, RIM, Google, etc. aren’t just going to sit still and wait. However, at the end of the day it always comes down to a two horse race, Coke & Pepsi, McDonalds & Burger King, Hertz & Avis, Nikon & Canon, iPod & er um, Zune???, Mac OS & Windows, and iPhone & Blackberry.

Engadget's Poll Says it All!
Engadget's Poll Says it All!

You can check out the Palm Pre here. It goes for $199 (you pay $299 and get a $100 rebate) and is initially only available on Sprint. Verizon users, screwed again 🙂

Here’s a nice video walkthrough

Also check out Larry’s blog as I’m sure he will cover the Pre in great detail.

Surf the Web on your PS3 with Flash and a Keyboard!

Last week my home theater system consisted of a TiVo HD XL, Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray player, Apple TV, Sony PS3 and a Mac mini. Ever since I got the Apple TV, I rarely ever used the Mac mini anymore. The only reason I could think of keeping it in there was the once in a blue moon chance I would want to surf the net without getting up and going to my computer. I had an Apple wireless keyboard and a bluetooth wireless trackball. I’m still kind of puzzled as to why Apple doesn’t include the Safari browser in the Apple TV? Oh well.


This week the Mac mini is history!

I no longer need the Mac mini in my theater because the web browser on the Playstation 3 (PS3) is now usable. This is thanks to the latest firmware update which includes the updated more feature rich version of the Adobe Flash Player including full screen capabilities. However, that was only half the battle. The other problem was a decent keyboard. I’m NOT going to use the onscreen keyboard! Nope, not me! Luckily, my buddy Dave Helmly turned me on to the Logitech wireless keyboard for the PS3.


The Playstation 3 Logitech Cordless Mediaboard Pro

is possibly the longest name for a keyboard in existence today. Aside from that, it’s the missing piece to this solution that makes surfing the web from a PS3 feasible. Not only is it a bluetooth wireless keyboard. It also has an integrated trackpad built right in. Not only is it a good design, but it’s also designed for the PS3. That means that it has the PS3 keys right on the keyboard so you’re not constant reaching for the game controller to navigate your way around.


How well does the PS3’s Web Browser really work?

I was impressed by not only the web browser, but also the Flash integration. I had no problem seeing Flash enabled sites. I was even able to watch some movies in Flash (FLV) format. There were a couple of disappointments. The first one was that I wasn’t able to find a way to resize the window. There was a lot of wasted space on both sides. Maybe there’s a way, but I couldn’t find it. The other disappointment, although not a surprise was that there was no way to watch QuickTime content. Again, I’m not surprised and there is way more Flash content out there than QuickTime content anyway, but it would be nice to have both.

This browser certainly won’t replace the one you use on your Mac or PC, but it’s more than adequate for looking up some information right there on the spot and on the big screen. You can also bookmark your favorite sites. It took me a few minutes to discover the side panel where all of the controls are located.


The Bottom Line

If you have a PS3 and it’s connected to the internet, then there really isn’t much of a reason not to use it for web browsing too. If you are going to use it this way, then don’t hesitate, go buy the Logitech Mediaboard. It’s $59.99 at

The Garmin Nuvi 765T GPS Review

I’ve been a longtime fan of Garmin Nuvi’s. However, lately I’ve been carrying my much lower priced Navigon 2100 with me when I travel. Why would I carry a less feature rich device you ask? It’s actually quite simple. Although I love just about everything about the Garmin Nuvi, the one thing I fell in love with on the Navigon is something they call "3D Reality View." It seems that whenever I’m in an unfamiliar area (which is why I’d be using my GPS in the first place), I would always be in the wrong lane. This would either cause me to miss my exit or exit too soon. On the Navigon 2100 whenever I approached a complex highway exchange, the Navigon would throw up photo realistic highway signs that displayed the exact text that was on the real signs with markers for the lane you’re supposed to be in. Once I drove around California with this feature I was hooked! Recently Garmin sent out a survey and I answered the survey about what I liked about the Nuvi and what I wished were better. The one feature I wanted was this form of "lane assist" and the next thing I knew, it was here! I happened to notice an ad for the Garmin Nuvi 755T, 765T, 775T and 785T and all of these units include a feature called "lane assist." Had I just seen that in text, I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention to it. However, it was the screen shot that got me!:


Next it was simply just a matter of deciding which of the four models I wanted. This was the one feature that was keeping me from using my existing Garmin and using a lesser model. Don’t get me wrong, the Navigon 2100 is a great GPS for the money (it’s my most frequently read review with well over 110,000 reads)! However, the Garmin Nuvi offers so much more and as well it should since it also costs 3-5 times more. I ran a comparison of these four models to see which one was right me. I immediately eliminated the 755T because I wanted Bluetooth. Garmin Nuvi’s with Bluetooth allow you to also use it as a handsfree speaker phone while you’re driving. Since I use my portable GPS mostly in rental cars, this feature is a big plus. The 775T seems to come with maps of Europe and the 785T comes with MSN support. Neither of these two features were important to me nor did they justify the huge difference in price. So it was the 765T for me! 


Speaking of price

Don’t let Garmin’s retail prices scare you! Nobody would pay these prices! The Garmin Nuvi 765T lists for $599.99 or Garmin’s site. There’s NO WAY I would pay that much for a GPS these days. I started doing some price shopping. Unfortunately I wasn’t seeing the 765T for much under $435 (still much better than retail). I was all set to ask for gift cards for the holidays and I would pool them together to get one. Then it happened! I was looking at a couple of days before Thanksgiving and it was there for only $349! I was stunned! Was this a mistake? I paused for a minute, and then I went for it. The next day after I ordered it, it went back up to the regular price of $435. Prices do fluctuate on all the time. So keep a watch on it. Although it was sold through Amazon, it was actually Car Toys that delivered it. I see right now that their price is a little cheaper right on the Amazon page (on the right side of the page). 


Taking it for a spin


I couldn’t wait to put it to the test. So although I was home and have a GPS built-in to my car, I put the Nuvi 765T on my dash board and ran some errands. It was GREAT! It was fast and responsive. Plotting good routes (all GPSes plot wacky routes at times). Then I came up on an intersection and BAM! There it was, a beautiful photo illustrating which lane I should be in. Although this was it! This was the feature I’d been waiting for Garmin to release, there is still room for improvement. My only issue with the 3D view is that it simply doesn’t stay up long enough. If you’re concentrating on the road, you could actually miss the display when it pops up. It seems to stay up much longer on the Navigon. It’s not the end of the world and it’s something easily fixed via firmware update. So Garmin, if you’re reading this, let’s get this display to stay up a few seconds longer. I also noticed that the Nuvi 765T now displays the current speed limit of the road you’re on. Another cool feature of the Navigon. However, it seems that all the 765T does is display the speed limit whereas my Navigon actually has a programmable warning if you exceed the limit by a set amount. I went 15 MPH over the limit on the Nuvi and not a peep.



True Lane Assist


In addition to the 3D photo that pops up to show you which lane you should be in, the 765T also displays another form of Lane Assist in the upper left corner, which shows you which of the lanes you should/could be in. For example if you’re approaching a 4 lane pass, you may only be able to take the upcoming exit if you’re in one of the two far left lanes. This feature will highlight the lanes you can be in and still make the exit. I like this feature A LOT! 


Why am I back to the Nuvi?

You might be asking at this point, if the Navigon that I already owned had the most important feature to me, why would I spend more money on another Garmin Nuvi? That’s a valid question and here’s the answer. While the Navigon had the one feature that I really loved, the Nuvi had everything else! The Nuvi is more than just a GPS. It’s also a media player, language translator, audiobook player, etc. Sure I have most of these features in my iPhone, but it’s nice having all this in my GPS because it also sports an FM transmitter built-in. This way I can have all of this sound play over the car speakers. The Navigon 2100 has none of this. While these features are nice-to-haves, the most important thing that sets the Nuvi 765T apart is performance and UI. The Navigon units can be sluggish to operate at times. They also have small text that is hard to read depending upon your eyes. The Garmin units use nice big icons and respond almost instantaneously to the touch. Another great feature of the Nuvi is the integration with my computer. With the Nuvi I can mount it on my desktop and drag files to it. I can also download custom points of interest (POI) files to it. I found a great site for getting custom POI files of your favorite stores, restaurants, etc. For example, I have all the PF Chang’s in my Garmin (probably not a good thing 🙂 ). No matter where I am, it will tell me where the closest one is. Same for Best Buy, Apple Stores, Morton Steak Houses, etc. etc. 


The Bottom Line

This is by far the best portable GPS I have owned to date. It’s not perfect, but it does offer the perfect blend of features, price and performance. It is very customizable and Garmin has free utilities for both the Mac and PC. Turn-by-turn voice navigation, fast responsive user interface. Several cool features and the new rubberized coating feels good to the touch. Mine came with the 2009 Map File already loaded and Garmin is pretty good about making timely updates available. If you’re looking for a top of the line, feature rich GPS, this is it!


A really cool idea for the 3g iPhone

While I can’t take credit for the idea (wish I had thought of it), I have never heard anyone mention it before as it relates to the iPhone. I was reading a post on about a new phone (I don’t even remember which one it was), but it had a feature that would be KILLER on the 3g version of the iPhone.

Here goes: Most of us that travel with iPhones also travel with laptops. One feature that we hope for on the 3g iPhone is to be able to use it as a wireless modem (tethering/DUN) via Bluetooth. However, what would even be sweeter is having the iPhone itself become a Wi-Fi access point. Having a 3g iPhone means that we’ll have the potential for significantly faster data access than what we now see over EDGE. Since the iPhone already has Wi-Fi built-in, why not just tap a button, set a password and have it broadcast a Wi-Fi access signal that you could tap into with your laptop and surf?

Of course there’s the whole battery life thing and I have no idea if the Wi-Fi radio uses more power than the Bluetooth radio, but it would be pretty sweet nonetheless. It would also allow multiple devices to share the 3g internet connection simultaneously whereas Bluetooth would not.

Either way, the next version of the iPhone should definitely have either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi internet sharing for your laptop! Steve would probably argue that the iPhone is so good that you shouldn’t need to connect to the internet from your laptop and maybe with all the new corporate support (MS Exchange support, VPN access, etc.) that’s coming in iPhone 2.0 he’s right. I can’t wait til June to find out!

You may remember that I have a running list of features that I would like to see come to the iPhone (some of which have either been addressed in recent updates or have been announced for the 2.0 software update due in June) and all of which could be implemented via software updates or 3rd parties. So while were on the subject of the 3g iPhone, here are my:


Top 10 iPhone 2.0.1 Feature Requests

  • Flash Player! – We can’t keep pretending that we don’t need this! With a faster iPhone, there’s no excuse
  • Video Recording – No reason not to have this either
  • MMS Messaging – Can we send some picts and video directly to our buddies without using email?
  • Cut/Copy/Paste – Duh!
  • Contact Search – I’m sure I’m not the only one with hundreds of contacts
  • Note Syncing – No reason not to have this
  • Audio Recording – Taking notes/Voice recorder would be a very popular feature
  • Email Anything – The ability to email anything that’s on the device, ie: contacts, voicemail messages, maps, etc.
  • Voice Dialing – Lesser phones have this basic feature
  • Consolidated Email Box (option) – I have 5 email accounts on my iPhone – my screen is starting to wear out in the spot that I have to keep hitting the Back button on.

Apple iPhone Bluetooth Headset Review

Terry with iPhone Bluetooth Headset

Keep in mind this review is by a guy who doesn’t care for in-ear Bluetooth headsets.

I’ll start by saying that even as I sat there in Steve Jobs’ keynote back in January and he splashed the photo up of the iPhone Bluetooth Headset, I wasn’t the least bit excited because it’s an in-ear headset and I’ve had horrible luck with all the ones I’ve tried in the past. So my immediate response was, "next!" I had zero interest in it. So when I was in my local Apple Store the other day buying an AirPort Base Station, the manager walks up to me and says, "you know we have the new Bluetooth Headsets in right?" I said, "yeah, I know." I could tell by the look on his face that he could tell that I wasn’t the least bit excited or interested. As I explained to him about the whole in-ear thing, he totally understood. I then said it would be nice to at least review one for my blog. So I bought one with the thought that if it doesn’t work out I could return it for a full refund in 14 days or less. He jokingly said, "see you tomorrow."

Unboxing it

When I got home, I set up the AirPort Extreme Base Station first (see my earlier review of that product). Then I remembered the headset and said, "OK, let’s see what this thing is all about." I was once again amazed at Apple’s attention to detail in the packaging. Opening this thing was almost as cool as opening the iPhone itself. If you’ve never unboxed an Apple product, I wouldn’t expect you to understand, so I’ll move on. I knew that the headset came with a dock that allows you to charge/sync your iPhone AND charge your headset as well. However, what I didn’t expect to get was the separate travel cable that does the same thing while you’re on the road: a nice and necessary addition. At first I didn’t see the instructions. They were tucked away in some of the packaging. The dock has a hard wired USB cable and an audio out port just like all the other docks. There is no AC power adapter. You’ll either have to power it from your computer or the USB AC adapter that came with your iPhone. You’ll also find two foam covers in the same area of the packaging as the instructions.

At first glance

The headset is black and very sleek looking. It doesn’t look half as dorky as most other headsets out there. Also, you’ll be happy to know that there is no big blue flashing LED on it. As a matter of fact, there is only one button (sound familiar) on the end of it that controls all of its functions.

Pairing it to the iPhone

I pulled out the instructions because I wanted to know how to get it into pairing mode. I was astonished to read that it pairs automatically by just putting in the dock with the iPhone. It’s stuff like this that makes us appreciate and love Apple engineering. Speaking of Apple engineering, Apple did a really cool thing in that if both the iPhone and Headset are docked, the headset’s battery status appears on the iPhone’s screen. Very Cool! If you’re just charging the headset alone, the headset has a small LED (about the size of the one on the MacBook/Pro MagSafe adapter) that changes from orange to green when it’s charged. Also speaking of MagSafe, the headset magnetically goes in the charger/dock just like the MagSafe adapter on MacBooks.

Putting it to the test

I forced myself to wear it all day. I wanted to see if I could because I can’t stand anything being in my ear that long. Unlike other in-ear sets I’ve used, this one doesn’t feel like it’s about to fall out. This headset is very light weight at a mere 6.5 grams. The audio quality is crystal clear. Granted I haven’t been in noisy environments with it yet. Since it is in-ear, I can tell that it would be as good if not better than most headsets of this type. I called a few friends and didn’t mention that I was using a headset. When I told them that I was on a headset, they couldn’t believe that I wasn’t talking directly into the handset or a land line. They said that the sound was "GREAT and clear." As you would expect, it works perfectly with the iPhone. I had no trouble making or answering calls. When I would walk out of range of the iPhone, the headset would beep twice to let me know. That’s a cool feature. The one thing that’s missing though is there is no redial function. This is a basic feature of most headsets and the iPhone does support it if the headset does. From my Jabra BT 500v, I can hit the button for a second and it redials the last number I called. The Apple headset surprisingly doesn’t do this.

The one button also controls the call waiting features of the iPhone. You control the volume of the headset from the iPhone’s volume control on the side. Mac users will also be happy to know that the iPhone Bluetooth Headset can be paired with your Bluetooth equipped Mac for use in A/V applications such as iChat AV. Talk time is rated at up to 5.5 hours and Standby Time is rated at up to 72 hours. This is much lower than my existing headset which easily lasts all week without having to be recharged. Since the iPhone Bluetooth Headset comes with one cable to charge both the iPhone and headset at the same time, I cut Apple a little slack here. The charging time is about 1.5 hours. However, for the price I would expect a longer battery life.


The Bottom Line

I’m not an in-ear headset guy. Since this headset takes the one size fits all attitude, some will love it and some will hate it. Other than the in-ear aspect, I LOVE the design and integration. Although you can use this headset with other cellphones, I couldn’t see recommending it for non-iPhone users. It’s integrated so well with the iPhone and for the price of $129 you could do better with other headsets for other phones. Now, will I keep it or return it? I’m not totally in love with it, so I’m undecided. However, at this point I’m leaning towards keeping it. I’ve been wearing it pretty much all day for 2 days straight and it doesn’t hurt my ears like headsets of the past. We’ll see over the next 12 days with more real world use in less than ideal environments. For now it’s a keeper. For design and ease of use, I give it 5 out of 5 stars. For comfort, I give it 3.5 stars and for value, I give it 3.5 stars.


In other iPhone news

Apple sold 270,000 iPhones in the last two days of their 3rd quarter (June 29th and June 30th).  Apple expects to sell its One Millionth iPhone by the end of September 2007. That’s more phones in 30 hours sold than AT&T has sold in an entire month of any other cellphone product launch, blowing the RAZR out of the water.


Our New iPhone Book has gone to press!


The iPhone Book

I got the honor and privilege of co-authoring "The iPhone Book" with my buddy Scott Kelby (author of the insanely popular iPod Book and number one best selling computer book author in the world) Scott is a joy to work with and we had a blast writing this book. We covered every detail that we could find at the time. However, as you know, new iPhone details, apps, accessories, etc. come out daily now (like this headset that shipped after the book went to press). So we’ll provide updates to the book via PDF downloads as needed. I’ll also continue to cover newsworthy iPhone developments here. So don’t hesitate, run, don’t walk over to and place your order. Or buy it wherever you buy your cool books from.


Make your own ringtones for your iPhone

One of my number one complaints with the iPhone is that it doesn’t allow you to use your own music as ringtones. So when my buddy Dave Moser sent me the link to iPhone Ringtone Maker, I was a little skeptical. This $10 app allows you to convert your own MP3s, WAVs, etc. into the iPhone ringtones and loads them on your iPhone. So I decided that I’d give it a shot. I went to the site and found that it was a Windows only app. It would be nice to have it on the Mac, but it does work with intel Macs and Boot Camp/Parallels. So I fired up Windows XP on my MacBook Pro and installed the latest version of iTunes (7.3.1) for Windows. I then immediately set the preferences in iTunes NOT to automatically sync iPhones. This way I could plug in my iPhone without it trying to disturb the content that’s already there. I added a few MP3s that I wanted to make into ringtones. Next I loaded the iPhone Ringtone Maker app and plugged in my serial number.

The app is very simple to use. You choose your MP3 (or other file type), then you can trim it to as long as you want it to be. It automatically does a 2 second fade in/out. Next you hit the Send to iPhone button and it downloads the ringtone into your iPhone. You have to turn the iPhone off and back on for the new ringtone to appear in the list, but that’s it! Bam, my new ringtones were there and working. So now when Dave calls me I can hear the Imperial March that I’m used to when he calls 🙂

My only very minor issue with this app (other than it being Windows only) is that the ringtones don’t seem as loud as the original song and although there are audio effects there is no way to boost the gain. Otherwise, it was the best $10 I’ve spent all month.


AppleCare is now available for the iPhone

Apple has started selling AppleCare for iPhone. This $69 coverage covers the iPhone and Apple Bluetooth Headset for an additional year. I’m not jumping on this one, because it is very likely that I’d be on a new iPhone within a year, especially if they come out with a 3g model.