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New smart phones give older models new luster


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POSTED: Sunday, June 07, 2009

These are heady times for smart-phone lovers. Amid two major unveilings, aficionados worldwide are now standing around water coolers debating the merits of the new Palm Pre versus the iPhone 3.0, probably as overcaffeinated Blackberry users zip past grumbling, “;Don't you people have work to do?”;

But there is much to process as months of blogged rumors give way to mainstream media rundowns of each phone's specs and capabilities.

Yet for fray-averse Digital Slobs, who hold tactical positions perfectly equidistant between the bleeding edge and the bargain bin of tech, it's a time to pause, reflect and hold our tongues (and scour eBay for deals).

Case in point: I didn't buy an iPhone 2.0 until January. But it didn't cost me $600 or $400 or even $200, but rather $100 during a special AT&T online sale for refurbished models. Also, in the highly unlikely event jailbreaking the device (i.e., enabling it to run non-Apple-approved software) causes it to dissolve like a “;Mission: Impossible”; cassette tape, I'm only out $100 and not $200 or $400, etc.

Likewise, since few Slobs will be standing in line for the Pre or the latest iPhone, many will grab hand-me-downs—original iPhones on eBay now seem to cost more to ship than they do to buy.

So for my middle-of-the-bell-curve brethren who take great joy in un-boxing gadgets that have been re-boxed several times over, here are some vetted iPhone apps organized into categories we can relate to:

 

APPS I ACTUALLY USE

Skype (free): Allows me to take my time talking to friends overseas. My pauses are still awkward, but at least they're not driving me into bankruptcy.

Flixster (free): Gives me the complete lay of the land for movies—time, location, durations, descriptions, trailers and reviews. It also saves money since after all that, I usually don't need to see the movie.

Postino (free): This app bridges the digital-analog divide, allowing you to create a personalized postcard from your photo library. Then, after typing a message and even “;signing”; your name, it sets in motion an ACTUAL postcard that will be delivered to any physical address IN THE WORLD for just $2.

Also worth a mention: Simplify, Pandora, Shazam, WunderRadio, Call a Cab, reQall.

 

APPS THAT COST ME PROMOTIONS

Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles ($5.99): An action-adventure game. I'm stuck on the floor puzzle at level 7-4. Help? Anybody? This whole column is just a subterfuge to get some help on this.

FlightControl ($0.99): Direct planes of different sizes and speeds to runways without letting them crash into one another. Sounds simple enough, but it's addictive (price does not include an all-night supply of Red Bull).

Quordy ($2.99): A Boggle-like game that can be played alone or against someone wirelessly. After each timed game, you can compare your results with the most combinations possible. Tip: Apparently, “;bes,”; “;els”; and “;conus”; are words.

Also worth a mention: TrivialPursuit, iScopes.

 

APPS JUST FOR SHOW

Have2P (free): Uses GPS synchronization to tell you the closest public restrooms should your bladder become so restricted it constricts your vocal cords, making you unable to simply ask somebody.

Email 'n Walk ($0.99): Turns on the iPhone's camera to create a window as you type so you can see obstructions through your phone without adjusting your line of sight. Never used it. However, I might pay someone to try it for a mile and then post the results on YouTube.

 

Follow columnist Curt Brandao's Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/digitalslob.