My Real iPhone Review

I haven't had time to write up all my impressions of my first day with an iPhone, but I am perfectly happy to admit that it exceeded my expectations, partly because I was prepared to be slightly let down by some of the bigger promises. I've written up some of this, including my process of buying the phone, over at TidBITS.

What's still valid about my hesitation in recommending the first-generation iPhone is that AT&T's EDGE network truly is too slow for anything but simpler text-heavy Web sites and for email, and that viewing Web pages and other text that's designed for wide-column layout is hard to read on screen. The former problem will be solved with an updated piece of hardware that uses the third-generation (3G) cell network. The latter problem could be solved in software, by offering an option to rewrap text streams into narrower columns for better legibility.

That said, the damn thing is a wonder. It's the niftiest piece of technology I've ever used or held. It truly feels like something dropped out of the future. Every feature works, even if I'm finding some rough edges or missing pieces. But nothing I've tried is broken. That's a big deal in an age where stuff is shipped too early, or in quasi-beta states. The iPhone probably tries to do too much in a first release, and some of that shows, but by biting off a specific set of Internet-focused tasks on top of telephony and iPod features, Apple's team made it achievable.

Very Hungry Benapillar

For dinner this evening, Ben ate like The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

He ate
many green beans
a piece of broccoli
fresh diced jicama
some bacon
three spoonfuls of flavored yogurt
dried roasted edamame
some potato chips (his "treat")
three mini pitas
cup of milk

Kaboom! Well, not yet.

Glenn Stabbed in Nude iPhone Review!

This is a fine day: I have a column in today's New York Post, the premium tabloid in this fine country of ours. Through a couple of colleagues they tracked me down because they wanted to run an iPhone piece by someone who had touched one. Apple has kept access to the iPhone more guarded than any other preannounced device--usually, companies either don't pre-announce and put everyone under nondisclosure who sees gear, or they pre-announce and offer fairly broad access at trade shows and elsewhere. Apple slipped the kimono in January, allowing a few dozen press people, including me, to hold and play with an early prototype. The prototype clearly had most of the basic functionality in place, because what I spent time with looks and works identically in the features I tested to what's shown in a long 20-minute video on Apple's site now.

It's a bit of an overstatement to call this a "first review," as the Post does, but it's a set of conclusions I've drawn from the physical experience with the device coupled with everything I've learned and seen since. It's a great device, but it's probably going to be overshadowed by its next model. Because AT&T hasn't released pricing for the data plan [update below], and whether Wi-Fi access at hotspots will be included, it's really unclear how much time people will spend with iPhones using the Internet over EDGE, which runs as fast as about 150 Kbps, but can run much slower; and that's downstream only, with upstream rates much slower.

Wi-Fi hotspot backhaul ranges from low broadband (768 Kbps/128 Kbps) to T-1 (1.5 Mbps/1.5 Mbps) and even higher. 3G services from AT&T can operate as fast as 3.6 Mbps with HSDPA, which they don't have rolled out everywhere, and that's a top possible speed; average speeds are below 1 Mbps downstream, and perhaps a few hundred Kbps upstream. That makes 3G and Wi-Fi at hotspots (versus Wi-Fi at homes that have high-speed cable service at 6 Mbps/1 Mbps, and so forth) relatively comparable.

It also means that EDGE will seem painfully slow as iPhone users roam on and off Wi-Fi hotspots. Apple says that the Wi-Fi/EDGE data roaming will be seamless, but that may just be frustrating, too: One minute, you're zooming along; the next, crawling.

Update: Apple and AT&T have released their voice and data plan prices, and Wi-Fi isn't mentioned. I have a long screed about this over at Wi-Fi Networking News. Individual plans with unlimited EDGE data start at $60 and existing AT&T subscribers like myself can add iPhone service (including unlimited data) for $20 per month per iPhone. The early reviews critique EDGE's speed and availability. If you're going to use the iPhone effectively, you're going to wind up paying perhaps Boingo $22 per month for Wi-Fi access all over the U.S.

And, man, are some people angry about this "review." Read David Pogue or Walt Mossberg or Ed Baig's take on the matter--they generally like the phone, but they are also critical of the EDGE network choice.

Rex a Bit Happier

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We're still fighting the reflux, and he can be rather unhappy when it hits, but we're seeing some strategy pay off. Although we're about to switch from Prilosec to Prevacid, as the two drugs use a different way of activating the same mechanism (turning down the volume on production of acid at the protein pump level). In any case, we're seeing more smiles at times, and he slept a crazy long 10 1/2 hours last night. This is a photo Lynn took earlier this day; things went south after this, but it was a nice happy time.

Baby Blues

Our littler boy  is still suffering from the effects of acid reflux. We're about to switch to a third medication that might reduce his stomach's acid production, and starting the process of consulting with a pediatric gastroenterologist. In short, the last week has been fairly miserable. He still sleeps well for a good hunk of the night, but his days are mostly unhappy, and his daytime napping poor. We're not quite at wit's end, but the family's nerves are frayed.

Fortunately, some good advice in the last couple of days about Mylanta and changing the current drug's dose seemed to help this afternoon, when he took a nice long nap, woke briefly to nurse without his usual mid-nursing wail, and then went right back down, probably for the rest of the night.

It's likely that we're on the right track now. Rex turns eight weeks old on Thursday, and we're told that this kind of reflux tends to fade out by three months, maybe four. Our pediatrician has worked with us to eliminate some variables, so it's likely really just acid and not some other, more intractable or difficult problem. If we can find the right combination and crack the code, we can have a happy baby again.

Lynn and I are just so sad for Rex: he's just entered the world, and finds it a sour place. His early smiles are pretty remarkable, and he's definitely trying to be happy. We just need to keep working towards that. It'll pass, but sooner would be better than later.