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Review

Round Robin: TiPb vs. the iPhone 3G Final Review

[This is an official Smartphone Experts Round Robin post! Every day you reply here, you're automatically entered for a chance to win an iPhone 3G, Case-Mate Naked Case, and Motorola H9 Bluetooth Headset! Full contest rules here!]

After 4 weeks sampling Google's Android G1, Palm's (HTC's) Treo (Windows Mobile) Pro, HTC's Windows Mobile FUZE, and RIM's BlackBerry Bold, it's back, and I'm back.

Boom.

A lot has happened since Dieter ripped the still beeping iPhone 3G from my cold, not-even-dead hand. Promo codes hit the App Store. iFart apps did to (and made a killing -- sigh). And, of course, Apple released a little something called firmware 2.2.

Admittedly, I cheated a bit. I checkout out the new firmware and the new Google Maps, but I really haven't had the chance to use iPhone OS 2.2 as my "daily driver", not until now.

I've reviewed the iPhone software several times now, for 2.0, 2.1, and 2.2, so I'll spare you the regurgitation, because something else has happened to: I've spent time with all those other smartphones. I've experienced some things still unavailable on the iPhone, some I've really liked, others... well, check the videos for the Android G1, Treo Pro, HTC FUZE, and BlackBerry Bold if you haven't already.

Instead, I'm going to focus on that: returning to the iPhone and looking at it again through eyes now widened by our sibling sites' signature devices. And I'm going to start after the jump!

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Round Robin: TiPb vs. BlackBerry Bold Final Review

[This is an official Smartphone Experts Round Robin post! Every day you reply here, you're automatically entered for a chance to win an iPhone 3G, Case-Mate Naked Case, and Motorola H9 Bluetooth Headset! Full contest rules here!]

Black and white. Night and day. Left and right. BlackBerry Bold and iPhone 3G. For the penultimate Round Robin, I set aside my multi-touch no Qwerty for Kevin's touch-less Cadillac of Querty's.

And...? I loved it and hated it. How utterly appropriate. Not to be too tale of two-cities about it, but it was both the best of the Round Robin devices for me and the worst. Google's Android G1 tried to do everything but beta'd all of it (give them time though!). The HTC Fuze tried to shellack over Windows Mobile to make it more like the iPhone and -- in terms of usability -- tripped and fell all over itself in the attempt. The Palm Treo Pro, while unabashedly Windows Mobile, was still a touch screen, allowing for some level of direct comparison, and proving just how far behind Windows Mobile's interface has fallen.

But the BlackBerry Bold is a different beast entirely. Direct comparison is impossible. A pager vs. a music player, all grown up and bedecked in smartphone tech. Both devices can do similar things, but their strengths are almost polar opposites, as are the approaches they take in delivering them.

Kevin's already written 7500 words on that, however, requiring few if any from me. So rather than rehash, or duplicate what the previous Round Robin editors have said better before me, I'm going to change it up a bit (yes, again) and look at things from a different perspective. And I'll do it after the break!

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Round Robin: CrackBerry Kevin Cracks the iPhone 3G

[This is an official Smartphone Experts Round Robin post! Every day you reply here, you're automatically entered for a chance to win an iPhone 3G, Case-Mate Naked Case, and Motorola H9 Bluetooth Headset! Full contest rules here!]

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Review: Sonos ZonePlayer 90 with iPhone Controller App

Sonos is a "multi-room music system" that lets you wirelessly stream music to any "zone" in your house either independently or synchronized together using a centralized controller. And, oh yeah, that centralized controller can be an iPhone or iPod Touch.

Chad, with the help of his friend, gave us a first look at using Sonos with the iPhone in lieu of its traditional controller, and raised some great pros (total iPhone control of all music, in every room, of your Sonos-enabled home) and cons (iPhone relegated merely to control, and not leveraged for the media-powerhouse it is in its own right as well) about the experience. So great, in fact, that when Sonos offered TiPb a limited-time demo to test it out, I jumped at the chance.

Since I'm not a Sonos user, not an audiophile, and not particularly interested in struggling anymore with complicated setup procedures, I thought it would be ideal to approach this from a new-user perspective, and one used to the iPhone ecosystem where things (often) "just work".

How did it go? Find out after the break!

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Round Robin: Crackberry Kevin Goes Public Frenemy #1 on the iPhone 3G!

[This is an official Smartphone Experts Round Robin post! Every day you reply here, you're automatically entered for a chance to win an iPhone 3G, Case-Mate Naked Case, and Motorola H9 Bluetooth Headset! Full contest rules here!]

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Round Robin: TiPb vs. HTC FUZE Video Preview!

Note: Some people are having trouble seeing the video (comes back as unavailable). It's working fine for me, but if it's not for you, please let me know in the comments, and please try this direct YouTube Video link.

[This is an official Smartphone Experts Round Robin post! Every day you reply here, you're automatically entered for a chance to win an iPhone 3G, Case-Mate Naked Case, and Motorola H9 Bluetooth Headset! More below!]

Did I need to review two HTC Windows Mobile devices in a row? Would it have been better to have the G1 or Bold in between, or would I then have back-to-back front-facing Qwerty or Slider bloat? I don't know. Last week's Palm Treo Pro and this week's HTC FUZE are differentiated not only by form factor, but with the FUZE's addition of Touch Flo 3D (which, during the video shoot, I came to lovingly re-brand "Press Really Hard Stammer 2D").

Fair enough, coming from an iPhone I challenge any non-Apple device's ability to deliver the same experience. They can't. But that's the point of the Round Robin: for each editor to look at every other device from their own smartphone's point of view.

Will the humungous slide-out keyboard be enough joy to cancel out the Touch Flo blues? I don't know yet; we'll find out together in my final, full review later this week.

Meanwhile, check out the video above, and if I'm wrong, mean, or just stupid, let me have it in the comments, or -- better yet -- head on over to the WMExperts Forums and help me see the error of my ways.

Likewise, Crackberry Kevin is suffering without his keyboard and trackball, so be sure to give him all the assistance you can before he he comes gunning for our iPhone in his own video!

Doing so, of course, gives you a chance to win the iPhone 3G and HTC FUZE... and a ton of other cool smartphones and accessories. Prize details after the jump...

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Round Robin: TiPb vs. Palm Treo Pro Final Review

[This is an official Smartphone Experts Round Robin post! Every day you reply here, you're automatically entered for a chance to win an iPhone 3G, Case-Mate Naked Case, and Motorola H9 Bluetooth Headset! Full contest rules here!]

Of all the reviews I have to write as part of the Smartphone Experts Round Robin, I have a feeling this one is going to be the hardest. See, I was a Palm OS user since the Palm V and stuck with the platform through the Treo 680, before switching to the original iPhone.

That, year after year after year, Palm still hasn't been able to ship a successor to Palm OS Garnet is inconceivable to me to the degree that what I'm now holding in my hand, gorgeous and powerful though it may be -- isn't a Palm, isn't a Treo. Not really. I was funny about that in my video. I'm actually more than a little sad about it real life.

The Treo 800 series should really be running Palm OS 2.0 "Nova". Since it's not, however, I'm reviewing an HTC handset running Windows Mobile 6.1 -- something I'll be doing almost immediately again with the HTC FUZE/PRO.

How to handle that? To avoid redundancy, I'm going to stick reviewing hardware -- a front facing Qwerty this time, slider the next -- and breaking up the software into two parts. This review (and thanks to Dieter for the idea!) will focus on the traditional Palm core -- the four pillars of PIM (Personal Information Management). The FUZE review will cover everything else Windows Mobile (media, apps, maps, etc.)

And I'm going to begin, after the break!

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Round Robin: TiPb vs. Palm Treo Pro Video Preview!

[This is an official Smartphone Experts Round Robin post! Every day you reply here, you're automatically entered for a chance to win an iPhone 3G, Case-Mate Naked Case, and Motorola H9 Bluetooth Headset! More below!]

[Digg link]

I loved Palm devices and used them as my "main brain" from the Palm V all the way to the Palm 680, before transitioning to the first iPhone. But here's the thing, I don't feel like I left Palm -- I feel like they left me. Will the Palm Treo Pro be enough to lure me back?

Fair warning: About 1 minute of this preview is done "Zero Punctuation" style (without the salty language, of course!). Apologies to Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw and everyone at the Escapist for the poor (very poor!) parody, and to our readers... er... viewers, but it had to be done!

Check it out, then head on over to Treo Central to help me get this thing working! Every day you post, you get entered to WIN one of FIVE smartphone prize packs! And you can enter each site's contest, so don't forget to help Dieter un-harshen his mellow with the iPhone!

Prize details after the jump...

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iPhone OS 2.2 review

iPhone OS 2.2 build 2.2 5G77, at 246.4MB, is the second major point release to Apple's second generation mobile operating system. Following on release 2.0 (full review) on July 11, and 2.1 (full review) on September 15. Interestingly, while 2.0 had 8 betas, 2.1 only had 4 and 2.2 but 2. Is Apple really getting twice as efficient, or only spending half as much effort getting feedback?

Like 2.1, this update is also available FREE for the iPod Touch. Unlike 2.1, however, Apple is not providing the same functionality to Touch, with the Google Maps update notably missing. Since these updates don't seem dependent on either the cell radio or GPS, it's difficult to imagine why Apple chose to -- we'll say it -- shaft the Touch. Perhaps they'll blame their subscription accounting model again? iSigh.

Remarkable also by it's absence -- again -- is the much ballyhooed Push Notification Service (announced during WWDC 2008), intended to provide the semblance of multi-tasking to 3rd party apps by sending badges, sounds, and pop-ups through a central Apple server to alert users of, for example, new IMs or tweets. (Should we even bother to mention the continued, and continually unexplained, absence of cut and paste, MMS, unified inbox, video recording, etc.)

Note: We updated just fine using iTunes 8.0.1, but you may want to consider grabbing yesterday's 8.0.2 release first.

But enough dwelling on the didn't gets. Read on after the jump for the we gots!

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Round Robin: TiPb vs Android G1 Final Review

[This is an official Smartphone Experts Round Robin post! Every day you reply here, you're automatically entered for a chance to win an iPhone 3G, Case-Mate Naked Case, and Motorola H9 Bluetooth Headset! More below!]

Google's Android is the future of smartphones. At least, it's one of the possible futures. Alongside the iPhone, it's the OS I'm most intrigued by, and that the two companies have chosen such different strategies in tackling the future only makes it ever so much more exciting.

The iPhone is an ordered, iconic device made entirely by Apple, with all the integration and fit and finish -- and frustratingly capricious omissions -- that only a single guiding mind can achieve. Android, by contrast, is chaotic and communal, designed by Google to free developers and fit a multitude of tastes and form-factors -- with all the possible confusion and derivation open source has to offer.

Which one is "better" is a ridiculously impossible question to answer -- each platform has its strengths and weaknesses and each user their own unique needs and preferences. Frankly, we're fortunate to live in a time where there are so many truly awesome devices from which to choose. (Even a few years ago -- and yes, I'll say it, pre-iPhone shockwave -- things were far, far more bleak.)

For my part, all I can really do is tell you how I use a smartphone, and how well the Android G1 fits that usage bill.

I really need to point out, up front, that the G1 is a beta device. There, I said it. Unlike Windows Mobile or Blackberry OS, which have been on the market for years and years, and the iPhone OS which is already on 2.x, Android has just hit the market with all the promise and problems that inevitably go with that. The Android device I experienced this week will absolutely and without question be blown away by whatever Android device(s) hit the market next year. So, it's not a fair comparison for Android from the get go, and I beg everyone to remember that when I lay... er... get into it below the fold.

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