Am I fickle, spoiled, restless or all of the above?

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A week or so after I posted my iPhone review, I was right back to using my Treo 680. I made the switch back because the iPhone lacked the various features that I had come to rely on with other smartphones. Namely, the ability to install 3rd party applications. I missed not being able to extend the functionality of my device, so I set it aside and went back to my faithful Palm OS phone. I continued to use the iPhone as my daily iPod and kept an eye out for the day when it would be unlocked either by Apple or the hacker community. Sure enough, it didn’t take long at all before iPhone brainiacs were publishing instructions on how to ‘jailbreak’ (term given to mean unlocking to allow for application installs) iPhones. The first processes were not for the faint of heart, and although I wasn’t scared to try this on my own iPhone, I decided to wait a bit to see what other options might become available. I finally gave in to temptation over a week ago when I read an article on one of my fave sites Lifehacker that explained how to break the iPhone without having to get your hands dirty. I tried it and within 15 minutes or so, I was installing applications and feeling a sense of excitement about a mobile device that I’d not felt in a long long time…

unlocked iPhone

Here’s a screen shot of my own iPhone with several applications installed. Unlocking it using the directions in that LifeHacker article could not have been any simpler.

unlocked iPhone

Now applications can be installed over the air (EDGE or WiFi) using a cool package manager. If you’ve ever goofed with Linux and a package manager, you’ll be right at home. Basically, every time you launch it, it will update with a list of available applications that you can choose to download. There is already a nice collection of apps, with more added everyday. Another cool feature is that if there’s a new version of an app that you’ve installed, it will alert you the next time you run the Installer, so that you can update it. Nice!

For the past week I’ve been compulsively launching the installer several times a day just to see if there are any cool new apps that I can install and play with. And there’s the problem, mostly I’ve just been playing with games and little screen candy apps, etc. There are only a few actual utility applications and so far they have not been overly impressive. The best ‘real’ applications that I’ve found are the SummerBoard replacement launcher and the e-book reader application Most of the other offerings lack substance and have bare basic features.

And now I find myself back at that point where I realize yet again, that the iPhone is fun to play with, but lacks features that I need in my everyday device. So, I’m about to hop again, but I don’t know where to hop to. Sure, I could go back to the Treo, but honestly, I’m growing tired of it and how it likes to sometimes spontaneously reboot at the most inopportune times. This past weekend while I was working on some Bluetooth headphone reviews, I was using my HTC TyTN and really enjoyed it. Maybe I should hop back to Windows Mobile for awhile. Then there’s always the Nokia E61i, which I was interested in trying. I ordered one weeks ago only to have the wrong phone shipped to me. After I got that mess straightened out, I never did re-order one.

Is it just me, or is the whole mobile device scene at a point where the current selection of devices seems lackluster and the only smart thing to do is to wait for something better to arrive? I have never been good at waiting though… ;o)

What do all of you think? Do you also feel restless, or are you happy with your current device? If you’re happy, which device are you using?

33 thoughts on “Am I fickle, spoiled, restless or all of the above?”

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  2. i’m w/ you, Julie. I find myself w/ three phones currently: Cingular 3125, 8525 and a Blackjack. I really like them all for different reasons and use them all regularly. It’s probably a bit ridiculous. Call me indecisive I guess but a SIM card and Exchange ActiveSync make it so easy. The only thing i miss b/w phones are my text messages.

  3. I have a Treo 680 and I love it with all of my heart. It’s a tad buggy at times, but it does what I need. I hardly have any apps on the thing at all past what it comes with, so I’m beginning to wonder if I could get by with something a little “less than,” like a nice feature phone. Something like the Nokia flip-phone you reviewed in your gear diary a few months ago would work well I think.

    I don’t really need everything the Treo offers, or even everything the iPhone offers. I’m not so terribly busy that I need a PIM. However, Google Maps on my Treo is awesome. It’s almost worth keeping the Treo and my data plan just for that…

  4. I’ll be the iPhone zealot for the moment and say I can’t ever imagine going back to my Treo (ok it was 650 but subsequent Treos never looked worth the upgrade). I had the time to follow the early instructions and be giddy with Terminal but I really think the iPhone hacking effort is phenomenal and I’d really be curious to know what your must have apps for it would be?

    I am waiting for a SplashID clone and syncing other bits of data but have been really impressed by the SummerBoard and efforts so far.

    Just yesterday I needed to shell into a server, and run some spur of the moment applications from the health club. No laptop around but couldn’t have been easier (and certainly no more difficult than on the 650 of old – do those Treos have wifi yet?!).

    Yes I can go into complaints about A2DP, a real SDK and why not a bluetooth keyboard profile – but I can also wait it out since my 85% today is so much more than before.

    Good luck on being restless 🙂 I am happy (for today).

  5. i use an n800 connected via bluetooth dun to a forgettable samsung phone. the bluetooth is a bit of a hassle, but overall i’m happy with my setup

  6. markf:

    Don’t you wish you could make copies of your SIM card, so that you didn’t have to do the SIM shuffle, but could have a SIM in each device? I sure wish that were possible!

    I can understand where you’re coming from as I’m in a similar situation. I don’t use a lot of 3rd party apps on my 680. But the ones I do use are important to me enough that I miss not having the functionality on other devices.

    I agree that the hacking / development effort is great! I thoroughly enjoy checking out new apps as soon as I see them appear in the installer. I’m just wanting these apps to be more robust. Right now, the majority of them are just shells of what they will be. What apps do I need? Well, my initial list had an ssh client. to do manager, doc / memo app with searching, a date calculator and an ebook reader. At this moment, all I need is a good to do manager (I prefer that it have an ability to sync with iCal) a date calculator and most importantly a memo app that has a search feature. Maybe I should go suggest the apps I need at the modmyiphone site :o)

    But here’s another the thing that would make the iPhone even better… it needs to multitask better. Like with the Vt100 app. If I launch it and ssh into my server and then back out to go do something else on the phone, when I go back to the vt100 app, I have to log in all over again. Grrrr…

  7. Julie,

    You have to remember that the iPhone has been out for just a few weeks. Just imagine what you will get in the near future. Apple has just announced one million iPhones sold. With that quantity of units out there, there will be hundreds of developers trying to offer software for it. And with the unlock application finally on the hands of resellers, the price cut by $200 and the possibility of having the same applications running both on the iPod Touch and the iPhone, and Apple saying that they won’t be interfering with these developers, there will be a million apps in the very very near future.



  8. estuardo:

    I agree that more apps are coming. They just aren’t here yet.

    The main problem is that I am The Gadgeteer. With that title comes an almost incurable case of “I’m bored and want to try something new” syndrome :o) So I’m constantly juggling devices, looking for one that will remain my fave for more than a week.

  9. “Don’t you wish you could make copies of your SIM card, so that you didn’t have to do the SIM shuffle, but could have a SIM in each device? I sure wish that were possible!”

    life would be so good if i could do that 🙂

  10. Restless is the perfect word. Every morning I turn on my computer and scan for new mobile devices. It will be a bad day if there’s not a new review from the Gadgeteer. I stood in line for the iPhone but also went back to my Treo 680 because I didn’t think I could live without some of the 3rd party applications. Then went way back to the TyTn. But I’ve seen the light, sold the 680 and TyTn and made myself work with the iPhone. Time to move forward. The hacks look exciting and I’m counting on many more new innovations coming soon. Cloned SIM cards would be perfect. Have you seen the HTC Shift??? Back to the merry-go-round.

  11. BJ:

    Have you added any 3rd party apps to your iPhone yet? I was actually hopeful for the platform when I read that Apple said that future firmware upgrades would not break the 3rd party apps. Well since they said that, I’ve heard that they’ve back peddled and now are saying that subsequent updates will probably break them. ARGH!

  12. Julie, I feel your pain and hope you’ll find something soon.

    I’ve anticipated the iPhone’s shortcomings by getting a Tapwave Zodiac 2. Yep, I’m back in the Zodiac world (my previous one died quite suddenly) and I must say I’m totally loving it!

    I’ve removed all non-comms apps from the Treo 680 to the Zodiac that I get used to using the PDA for 3rd party apps that might not be included in the iPhone. This includes my password & financial apps. As the iPhone matures, I’ll slowly transfer more apps from the Zodiac to it.
    So for now, the iPhone & Zodiac 2 are my ideal perfect combo…

  13. If the TyTN had been available for Verizon (God forbid they have anything but outdated phones), I would have jumped ship this time and not gotten the Treo 700p. Yeah, it’s nice, but it’s also stale. And a little moldy, as well. The iPhone does not excite me, and nothing out there right now does, either. It’s actually pretty pathetic…the better technology we have, the lamer the phones become.

  14. You’re allowed to be restless, you’re the Gadgeteer and are expected to try everything. 🙂

    As for me, I decided after a lot of consideration to spend another year with Windows Mobile, on the new Kaiser/TyTn II. (Look for my review of it here, shortly after it actually arrives.) Hopefully by this time in 2008, some of the options that are currently on the horizon will have taken greater shape — for example, the Google phone, Palm’s new platform, or even OpenMoko (which could be a geek’s dream, although I don’t expect it to be consumer-friendly at all).

    As much as I have thought about it, and as many times as I go to the Apple store to play with the iPhone’s slick UI, I simply can’t switch yet. One reason is the lack of 3G; I don’t think I could go back to EDGE at this point, and free WiFi is not nearly pervasive enough for me to rely on it while I’m out. Another is the third party apps — while I could probably get by with what’s out there now, I’m not going to pay $400 for a phone just to get by. The lack of official support for development means that there will not be a market for third party software. (This is especially painful when I look at my Mac and see the unique, high quality apps I use every day. Independent Mac developers could do amazing things with the iPhone, I think, but as long as their market could be pulled out from under them at any time, I doubt many of them will.)

    And while I have been reluctant to make a choice, I am looking forward to the TyTn II. I can live with Windows Mobile a while longer, especially if it lets me have 3G, built in GPS, and a keyboard that has actual buttons…

  15. I also think the TyTn II (AT&T 8925) is worth trying with GPS, better video, large RAM, and smaller footprint than the 8525.

    I also agree that the iPhone will get better over time as it matures.

    • Joe
  16. What I read said that Apple would not go ‘out of the way’ to break 3rd party apps, but they would also not go ‘out of the way’ to ensure that an update wouldn’t break 3d party apps.

  17. I ordered a Nokia E61i today and will get it tomorrow. Something new to try as I don’t have a great deal of experience with Symbian devices. We’ll see how well it works with my Mac :o)

  18. Julie,

    I haven’t tried to unlock my iPhone so have tried only web based games from macmost and other things like Readdle. I’m paranoid about unlocking and adding 3rd party apps. Particularly knowing that Apple is just watching the whole hacking thing play out and could whip the rug out from under all jailbreaks. UGH! I had over 30 extra apps on my Treo 680. The result was way too many conflicts that finally got so bad it wouldn’t sync anymore. The TyTn was more dependable at syncing, but I really didn’t like the clicky keyboard as it was disruptive to take notes in meetings and was bulky. After using the iPhone, WiFi will be a must on my next machine. Nearly everywhere I go has WiFi and that speed beats any EDGE or 3G. I’ll look forward to your review of the Nokia E61i. It sounds like everything I might need… for a week or two until restless sets in again :-0

  19. Yes Julie, you do have a point. Lackluster is the right term for the market right now. Somehow I am on the lookout for the none-plus-ultra device and get hung up on the new shiney premiere of brand X, along the way.
    I was a die hard Plam fan for the past 10 years and what broke it was the really bad Treo 680. Buggy is not the term. Sound quality, hanging itself into GMS is bad, the OS has hiccups, and somehow I get the feeling when speaking to someone the duplexing of the phone seesm to be (sometimes out of whack).
    Up came my interest for Series 60 3rd Edition (Nokia, et al) and I bought one cell phone (Nokia 5500). Very small very cool, nice OS implementation, rather quick) – the speech quality blows you away, battery time is really good, and because the phone is small, it turned out to be my main phone. With 3rd party software I carry along the most important of all things: my hundreds of passwords and software regs.
    Then came the Nokia E90!
    It’s huge, but has everythign I wanted in a phone – and I mean everything: Wifi, BT, a2dp, stable synching with my PC, battery life from here to the moon, 3.2 Mpix Cam, Voip (that works), Email, Internet (via auto Wifi search). And then a few tidbits.
    Why isn’t Palm making it? Why is the iPhone playing elite like Apple always does?? I don’t know
    All these companies are seemingly holding back, so that we have to buy the next series of cell phones.
    But may bottom line is: the oerfect phone is possible, but the industrie doesn’t WANT to make it – after all: where would it go from there

  20. BJ:

    Just checked UPS and my Nokia E61i is out for delivery. Unfortunately for me, I won’t get to play with it till I get home from work today. Darn day job!

    I am looking forward to digging into a Symbian device. The E61i doesn’t have a touch screen, so that will take a bit of adjustment…


    I’ve been a diehard Palm user (for the most part) for a very long time too and now I’m trying to detach myself from the Treo. While it has been the best solution for me thus far, I’ve had to put up with all the issues that you mention. I deal with the occasional reboot, crappy Bluetooth range, etc as just the way things are, instead of trying to find something better.

    The Nokia E90 is a monster! Is that your main phone these days? How do you carry it around? It is intriguing… I could see myself using it since it has a large keyboard. But I can’t see it being my main phone. My pockets aren’t that big ;o) If you could tether it to a smaller phone, that might be a cool solution…

  21. Love to tech-talk with you, but it could get into the hours so I’ll just post here 🙂
    The E90 really is gargantuan! I’m lucky: I get to run around in cargo pants, with a nice fashion shirt dangling outside my pants (I guess that would be the middle age city men’s fashion these. days). So today as I was scuttle-butting about doing various things, I started negatively “noticing” my E90
    I stuffed the “big E” into my side cargo pockets. The weight almost threw me into a counter-balance while running 😉 – all jokes aside, so you really feel the weight! I left it in that pocket while driving the car – which was ok. After it kept dangling at my knee I put it in my normal pocket. I was less the weight but more about the rectangular size that kept annoying me.

    As I was shopping I started pondering why I would need an electronic Hershey bar @ 210 grams with almost an inch of thickness during the day… I mean I sit in front of a PC close to 14 hours a day, have all the luxuries of connecting between my devices (BT, Wifi)…. So why do I need this monster on the go?
    Well….cause its nifty…the keyboard is ok, no tactile feedback though, sorta mushy…and some of the action buttons aren’t logically place…so it’s still, well – neat…but I think on the over all it will wander off to eBay.
    I am having an interesting test-time with it (via telephoning to landlines is free until end of the year [big plus here in Europe where fees are fairly high: mobile to landlines]) and autosyncing with the Nokia PC Suite via BT rocks too…but the loss of money will be my “phone rent”.

    I will definitley not be buying any more large smartphones.

    I am also fiddling with an E70 from Nokia which is neat, especially the folding keyboard rocks. It’s also less large and does the same stuff the E90 does, less a2dp :-(. The screen by the way is super eye candy – the best of it’s kind right now on the market.

    I pondered buying the E61i, but like the E70, it doesn’t have a2dp, which is a bummer. So I thought I don’t need the Palm form factor without a2dp. The Treo 680 is very nice in that instance together with the software: Audio Gateway. The E61i is also (according to the forums on the iNet) buggy as far as the OS goes.

    Well to sum it up: I’ll be juggeling the Nokia 5500 and the E70, and ditching the E90 – don’t want to look like Arnold after toting around the E90 for a few more weeks. 🙂

  22. Cornelis:

    The Nokia E61i arrived last night. I’ve not had any time to play with it other than to get it to sync with my iMac using the iSync plugin downloaded directly from Nokia. My first impressions are that it is too wide and that the keyboard is too shallow. We’ll see what happens though…

  23. Hi Julie,

    If the E90 is too large for you (it is for me too) then you should take a look at the new “US 3G” version of the Nokia N95.

    I moved from Psion to Palm to Windows Mobile and then finally to Symbian about year ago.

    In my opinion Symbian makes the best phone/pda combinations by far. The major issue with them until recently has been that Nokia has always chosen to skimp on Ram so the devices have had trouble multi tasking effectively. The same problem affected the original N95 and you are going to find the same problem with the E61i. The new US N95 has had the Ram doubled (which actually quadruples the Ram available to user programs) so the problem doesn’t occur.

  24. Julie

    Two new (near future) offerings may satisfy the happy feet for a little while: (1) AT&T Tilt (aka 8925; Kaiser, TyTN II), and (2) Pantech c810.

    The former is the TyTN with everything INCLUDING the kitchen sink (quadband GMS, triband HSDPA/HSUPA, WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth 2, 128mb ram and 256 mb rom), all with a side slider and screen that tilts upward.

    The later is a dual slider (vertical for keypad, horizontal for keyboard) rumored to be 86mm tall when closed. Although only WM 6 Standard, having used a Blackjack for nearly a year now proved to me that touch screens ARE NOT indespensable.

    I’d also bet good money that one of the real reasons for dropping the iPhone price $200 was to make room for the real Xmas release – a 3G iphone at 16mb to go with the Euro launch, at $599. I just can’t see how Apple could sell the Euro carriers on an EDGE device when they really have extensive 3G coverage and little EDGE footprint over there.

  25. Because I don’t carry an ipod around (I use a 60gig at home on my audio system and a 8gig nano at the gym) I was not and am not tempted by the iphone. And I do use a fair amount of software on my MotoQ (even a star chart for my nights in the country). In fact I wish I were excited by the iphone as, like you, I feel a bit stale. We’re clearly asking for too much emotional satisfaction from our gadgets, so I’ll tell you what I tell myself which is to calm down.

  26. Well it would help if I had read your entire post before responding because I see that you have tried Summerboard. Oh well.

    As for “restlessness”, you can count me alongside you. The iPhone is fantastic, but when I look at other options there just aren’t any to be found. For a full QWERTY device, I would kill for a Nokia E61i form factor (with 2.8″ touchscreen) running Windows Mobile Pro. Most devices in this class are standard (none-touch), and have smallish 2.4″ screens. Yuck.

    Having experienced iPhone I can’t go back to a QVGA screen, it’s just intolerable to me now. PalmOS is all but dead, so going back to a 680 isn’t exactly desirable, although I will say PalmOS is still the most versatile and usable mobile platform around…not bad for zombie corpse.


    What to do.

  27. Kent:

    I really like Summerboard too :o)

    I received the Nokia E61i and so far it’s not doing anything for me. It’s really hard not having a touch screen… I keep taking the SIM out and putting it right back into my iPhone.

  28. Meanwhile, I’ve received the TyTn II and am busy putting it through its paces for an upcoming review. I’ve been using the original TyTn as my main device since it came out last year, and the TyTn II is a nice, though not particularly revolutionary, upgrade which I hope will keep me somewhat satisfied for another year at least. (By then, maybe we’ll start to see some new stuff on the horizon, maybe a new iPhone, devices from Google and Palm and OpenMoko, etc. to keep things interesting.) For more details you’ll have to come back in… umm, maybe a week or so, depending on how quickly I can take pictures and write.

  29. I’ve had my iPhone for all of 5 days, and love it despite some shortcomings already noted.

    An earlier post had asked what a dream app would be?

    For me it would be a standalone Gmail app such as the java version I had been using on my Razr. I’m using the Mail program to access gmail now, but it’s lacking a lot of the features. I’ve tried accessing gmail through safari but it’s cumbersome and the text entry has been problematic for me.

    As someone not skilled at programming, should I avoid the unlocking and add-ons, or is it pretty sraightforward?


  30. Yesterday I managed to unlock an iPhone so it now works in Uganda. The phone is simply beautiful and I can’t wait to get one. I’m now actively seeking one from the U.S of A and selling my Treo 680…
    All the complicated stuff is going on the Zodiac with all the Palm apps I’ve bought over the years. Can’t wait… Anyone care to recommend a case? Not interested in anything that needs a belt.

  31. Julie,

    I don’t really miss the full keyboard at all. Heavy data entry always gets done via the pc and I find T9 to be just as fast as my Blackberry keyboard for short entries like this post ( I’m on the N95 now).

    In my opinion S60 smartphones are around if you want the emphasis on the phone. They have great internet access, great media streaming, the best cameras on any smartphone, brilliant as a laptop modem, loads of software (though not as much as WinMob or Palm), error free sync to pc or mac, built in search, the best bluetooth implementation on any phone including A2DP, crystal clear phone audio, HSDPA wireless speeds, and speaker independent voice dial on every contact in the phone for safety whilst driving. The N95 also has built in GPS, a 5Mpx camera and VGA video recording, stereo speakers, and a TV output cable! Nokia also provides Mail For Exchange, an S60 Activesync client for push email and pim sync, and even Blackberry Connect on the E Series models.

    In case you cannot tell I am very happy with the N95 (I’m posting from it now). I just can’t wait to get the new model with more RAM.

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