hands on with the iPhone

When I was in New York a couple of weeks ago, one of my definite destinations was an Apple store. The iPod Touch had just come out and I could finally experience an iPhone in person. But getting to actually try one wasn’t going to be as easy as I hoped.

The tables with iPods and iPhones were crammed with people. There was about a dozen iPhones and a dozen iPod Touchs laid out to try and people were taking their time trying them out. Lineups formed around each one, people looking over shoulders, waiting for someone to put one down just to have it snatched up by the next interested person. I planned my strategy trying to predict who was next to put it down and then running around to the other side of the table, but it was too late – someone had already picked it up.

After about 10 frustrating minutes of cat and mouse, I finally got my hands on one. And it was sweet. It just felt right. I tried as many of the applications as possible. Music and coverflow worked fabulously. Picking music now felt much more like choosing from a CD collection. And I noticed there’s a rocker button on the side to adjust volume up and down. In my previous review, I expected it to all be screen touch.

Photo time. The built in camera takes amazingly clear pictures. Maybe it’s just the screen that makes it look so good, but lighting and crispness of images is amazing. This would be great to have at parties. The screen makes sharing the images so good as well. You can flip through the images, just like coverflow, pushing them to the side. Spread your fingers apart and you can zoom in. Push around and pan the image. I wish Photoshop editing was this intuitive.

The internet browser was the same. I opened a bookmark to a newspaper website and I could zoom into the page, slide it around, click into stories to read. So fast and clear. The text rendering is very sharp.

Actual calls and sending text messages on the phone was disabled for obvious reasons, but you could still get a good idea of how everything worked. The address book was great and visual. I tried to tap out a text message, and I won’t lie – it was difficult. But I expected that. I’ve heard people say you just have to type and not care that you’ve made mistakes – the software will correct it to the right words. But for me, I must have been typing too many wrong letters as it wasn’t correcting my words. I don’t even have large fingers and i found it hard to type the tiny keys. I’ve also read it takes a little bit of time to get used to it, but after a couple days, you’re flying.

Overall, it was just so enjoyable to use and drool worthy.

After my short trial, we grabbed some lunch at a nearby Thai cafe, Peep. The washrooms are hilarious. The door to the 2 individual unisex washrooms are right in the dining area. And once you get in, you’re shocked. When you look back to where you came in, you can see the dining room. It’s one-way mirror glass. And the opposite wall is a mirror reflecting the dining room as well. So at all times, you’re fully aware of people looking in your direction in the washroom, yet only you can see them. Very funny to experience.

Photo copyright of Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The reason why I bring up Peep is that there were two girls sitting next to us that must have overheard us discussing the recent Britney Spears MTV VMA debacle. Shortly after, they had an iPhone out on the table, laughing and watching together the Britney performance from YouTube. Could the iPhone be the tool that makes the anti-social internet a social gathering? Will we huddle around it, reviewing photos from our recent trips? Watching the latest episode of The Office together? Listening to the latest album release?

Will you buy an iPhone?

Burton 2008 lineup

I was in New York City 2 weeks ago and got to stop in at the Burton store in Soho. I could have spent hours in there, but we were on a clock so I had to shop quickly. Great prices too…some luggage that we really wanted for a great price, but we’ve got an entire closet full already. It also gave me a glimpse at the 2008 board lineup.

Vapor

This is my dream ride. Light and very tech. When the Vapor came out last year, I had to see it in person. When you’re in a shop, pick up a regular freeride board to judge the weight. Then pick up the Vapor. A significant amount lighter. I’d love to try this out on a demo day. Save some extra cash if you wanna ride this one.

T6

The T6 has a cool new edge dampening under the binding area. I’m not sure if it’s intended to give more flex under the binding area. It looked like it might help stiffen it a bit in those areas. You can see it in the images.

Custom X

My favorite…my ride. I rode a Custom for several years and thought that was the top. Then came the Custom X. I got this last year and it got even better. New this year is a wide version of the Custom X. I’ve got big feet, but would still go with the non-wide version to maintain faster edge to edge responsiveness and better tortional flex. Unless you’ve got size 13s, you don’t really have a choice. Light, great flex, a great all-mountain ride, really stable at top speed and highest quality materials.

EST bindings

The new big thing for Burton’s binding lineup this year is the EST (Extra Sensory Technology) bindings. They’ve gone away from the 3 and 4 hole mounting pattern with this binding and now have 2 mounting points on the side edges. This takes away the solid stiff area under the foot and should give a better boot-to-board feeling. I’d like to try this out to see how well it works. I want to see what the flex pattern is like on the board. The attachments mount to a metal groove that runs the center of the board called “Infinite Channel”. It’s not available for all boards, it looks to be more suited to freestyle, park boards. If it takes off, I’m sure it’ll be available for the all mountain boards next year.

Fall arrived yesterday, winter is on the way. It’s not too soon to get out gear shopping.

All photos, from www.burton.com

audi R8

I was out at lunch time and came across this sweet ride, the first time I’ve seen one in person. The Audi R8 looks awesome.

Check out that engine

Big 19s

Carbon fiber air intakes on the side

R8 badging even on the brakes

The car is so much wider than it appears

ready for takeoff

Chopper coming in for a landing

The friday of Labour Day weekend, I had the day off to make it a 4 day weekend. I decided to go to the CNE as I’d tragically never been there, after living in Toronto for 10 years. I brought my camera along as I was sure to find some stuff to shoot. Early in the afternoon, fighter planes (F-16, F-22) were flying overhead, practising for the airshow the following day. I also saw helicopters overhead as I was wandering around in the rides, but I thought it must have been part of the airshow practise as well. As I made it further through the park, I came to an area where the helicopters were taking off. You could take an actual helicopter ride instead of just spinning around on the Tilt-A-Whirl or the Scrambler.

Ready for takeoff

I’d always wanted to take a helicopter ride but never figured I would have a chance to do so. I’ve flown a small cessna and a glider before when I took some flight lessons. I’ve also been a passenger in some small commuter planes and even a seaplane. But never a helicopter. Flying is in my blood…my grandfather was a pilot. I remember when I was a kid, my dad telling me about flights he’d taken in choppers and I always daydreamed about what that would be like. The difference in takeoff and unrestricted vertical and horizontal movement is what I wanted to experience. The opportunity was staring me in the face.

I can see the slide

If the price was right, I was in. A quick ride was only $35. That’s the kind of cash I could throw down. How could you refuse for that price? But for how long do you get to ride in the mechanical birdl? 3.5 minutes. $10/minute! Still worth it in my book, so I waited in line to pay. There was a 40 minute lineup to take your flight, but since I was flying solo, there was a family of 3 just about to go up that I could jump in with. Perfect timing. And since the chopper only flies 4 passengers, 3 in the back, 1 up front, I got to sit up front with the pilot so the family could sit together. What a score! I went from eating cotton candy to riding shotgun in a helicopter in less than 5 minutes.

Ontario Place from the air

The flight was really fun even though it was short. The experience of takeoff and landing is obviously much different than a plane. The chopper smoothly lifted off the ground, pointed the nose down towards the end of the short “runway” and we took off, heading west over the Gardiner Expressway and Ontario Place. We continued out over the water a bit, turning north into the city and back east towards the downtown core. It was a great view of the CN Tower and skyscrapers.

CN Tower and skyscrapers

And then it was all over. We headed down for a landing, flying to the runway westbound. The chopper flew across to the end to slow the speed, banked around 180 and returned to the other end of the runway, rotating and softly landing. A quick unboarding and the classic running crouch away from the helicopter you always see on tv and it was complete.

Touchdown

You can see more photos from the quick ride here.

A good fun time, I’d definitely recommend it for anyone that likes flying. HeliTours.ca was running it and they also do other tours around Toronto.

iPod Touch

iPod Touch – all that I wanted

I was right! After Apple announced the iPhone, I felt a bit left out…I wanted all those features in an iPod, especially the widescreen video. It’s the reason I held off upgrading to an iPod Video edition. Today, Apple announced the iPod Touch, all the features of the iPhone, minus the phone. Exactly what I asked for when I blogged about it back in January.

Here’s what I said back in January…

Here’s what I want to see…take the iPhone, minus the phone capabilities, take out the internet capabilities (nice, but not essential) and just leave me the widescreen ipod. That’s all I want. I want videos widescreen, the new navigation capabilities with coverflow, rotational knowledge, etc. All that is cool. And maybe leave in the 2MP camera along with iPhoto so I can load up some photos too. I’ll use it to backup my memory card from my camera while I’m travelling.

I was pretty close. They left the internet capabilities…I should have guessed at that…anything that allows you to buy songs online with the updated iTunes wifi music store. I still would have liked the camera to stay, but I’ll make due with my cameraphone instead.

I can’t wait to try one out (and even more to have one). They’re out September 28. Another occasion to have the press watch the large overnight lineups and push the Apple stock even higher.

The controls will take a bit to get used to. I will actually miss the wheel control. When I’m walking to work, my iPod is in my pocket. And I always know where the pause button is and I can even adjust the volume up or down without having to look at it or take it out of my pocket. This is also very important in the winter time. The less I have to take off my gloves the better. With the iPod touch, I’ll have to turn the screen on (I’ll turn it off to save power) with the home button twice and then adjust the volume or pause. But I’ll have to visually see where these buttons…no more blind pocket pressing unless I get really good at remembering where on the screen the pause button is. Sometimes having some tactile buttons are a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Touch and will be anxious to see one and try out the controls in person, especially since we don’t have the iPhones in Canada.

The iPod Touch comes in 2 sizes, 8GB for $299 USD ($329 CDN) or 16GB for $399 ($449 CDN).

What do you think about the new iPod Touch? Are you going to buy one? Leave me a comment.

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