Resisting siren song of iPhone and all its cool features

June 27, 2007|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,Sun Columnist

There are two types of people in this world: Those who buy the latest high-tech gadgets, and those who wait for all the kinks to be ironed out and the price to drop and then, when they're finally ready to buy, the thing is obsolete and replaced by an even more expensive gadget.

It would probably shock you to learn which group I identify with.

OK, here's a hint: I won't be camping out tomorrow night with the armies of nerds lusting over the newest gotta-have-it tech marvel, the iPhone from Apple, which goes on sale Friday at 6 p.m. to much hype and hoopla.

Maybe you've heard about the iPhone or seen the commercial for it that features a video of that stupid bulldog skateboarding.

(Although I don't know why I call that bulldog stupid. Look, I can't even get my dog to pick up a ball. And here's that bulldog hanging 10 and doing tricks as he screams around the corner on a skateboard.)

Anyway, the iPhone makes a BlackBerry look like a tin can on a string.

It's a cell phone, music and video player and Web browser all in one sleek unit operated by a touch-screen.

It has e-mail capability, a visual menu for voice-mail and does your laundry, troubleshoots your car's engine and cooks delicious, low-fat dinners in seconds.

OK, it really doesn't do those last few things.

But no wonder the flacks at Apple say it's the greatest tech invention ever.

Oh, one other thing: It costs 500 bucks for the cheapest model, with calling plans that start at $59.99 a month.

Which is a bit of a problem for me for two reasons: No. 1, I don't have that kind of dough to spend on a phone.

And No. 2, even if I did, at that price I'd be terrified of losing it, dropping it, or having the dog chew on it.

Having a $500 glorified cell phone, that puts a lot of pressure on you.

On the other hand, in my pants pocket right now is the cheapest cell phone they sell at the Verizon Wireless store.

This thing is so cheap it doesn't even have a name.

If I have a problem with it and call Verizon Wireless tech support, I have to describe what the phone looks like before they can even help me.

Their initial reaction is always the same: Wow, you have that thing?! I didn't think we even make them anymore.

I know, I know ... am I out of it or what?

But if I lose it or accidentally drop it into the Grand Canyon, I'm not going to throw myself in front of a bus.

I'd just go back to Verizon Wireless and say: "Give me another of those ugly silver phones you have back there. The one that drops calls if you wander 10 feet from a cell tower."

Actually, the new iPhone looks like a great product, and I'm secretly lusting after one myself, although I worry about two things.

First, how easy is it to read text on that touch-screen?

Oh, my eyes are still pretty good for a middle-age guy. And, on the commercial, the iPhone's text seems large enough.

But that's a commercial, where lying - or at least exaggeration - is practically required by law.

If you actually buy the thing, will the text be so tiny you think you're reading it from the Voyager 2 satellite?

Secondly, how easy is it to type on that touch-screen?

See, I have stubby little fingers that look like Vienna sausages, and tiny keypads drive me nuts. I end up stabbing every key but the one I want.

The fact is, you wouldn't want me doing any precision work with my hands, cutting diamonds or dismantling bombs or anything like that.

So typing on a Smurf-sized keypad is out of the question. And if the iPhone comes with one, they can drop the price all they want and this guy won't be buying.

In the meantime, after the nerds assault the Apple and AT&T stores Friday and wipe out the iPhone stock, they'll all be walking around with these sexy stainless-steel phones pulsating with 4- and 8-gigabytes of glowing omnipotence.

Oh, they'll be insufferable.

They'll be showing off all the cool features ("Google Maps? Sure, here you go!") and zipping effortlessly with the swipe of a finger from the photo icon to the address book to the home page of an English-language daily newspaper in Amman, Jordan.

And the rest of us will just have to sit there and take it.

Oh, I suppose I could pull out my little Verizon Wireless phone, whatever they call it, and show off the half-dozen or so ring tones I can summon with the stab of a meaty thumb.

But somehow, I don't think that's going to impress anyone.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

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