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Cool iPhone makes user feel totally out of touch

April 08, 2008|By TIM ROWLAND

After owning one of those celebrated Apple iPhones for a couple of weeks, here is my review of the hottest technological gadget of the year:

1. It is really, really cool.

2. I am really, really not cool.

My suggestion is that if you wish to have your uncoolness pointed out in a good strong light, get an iPhone. Not only do I not really need most of the iPhone's features, the more depressing matter is that I can't even figure out what a lot of these features do.

You've seen the signs at the amusement park rides: "Must be this tall to enter." AT&T outlets need some kind of yardstick, "Must be this cool to posses an iPhone."

I had talked big when Apple introduced the phone last summer. "Yeah, gotta get me one of them." Since then, I had prudently refrained, however, correctly fearing that its abilities would outstrip mine. But when I lost my old phone, Beth called my bluff and trucked me to AT&T. Since that time, I've just been sitting with it in the corner, whimpering.

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Switch it on by brushing your finger across the screen and 17 colorful icons appear on the bright screen allowing you to do all manner of things that I never do. I'll be honest, I would usually use my old phone to do something totally nuts: like make a phone call. But even that was a rare occurrence, considering that I'm pretty anti-social.

Now, I will play around with all the features, but it's more along the lines of a chimp tapping his finger on a selection of colored blocks -- it amuses him, but he's not sure why.

True, I can check my stocks from anywhere. But I don't know, when I'm out turning my compost heap the urge to check up on Kinder Morgan shares never hits.

At any given moment, I can tell you what time it is in Tokyo. As I write this, I can tell you that it's 34 degrees in Plattsburgh, N.Y. But now that I know that, what do I do?

I could listen to music when I'm outside, but I like to hear the birds. I could watch movies if I liked movies, which I don't. I could text, except that I think the whole idea of texting is stupid. I can surf the Web, except that my goal is to spend less time online, not more. I can check my calendar, but nothing's on it. If you stop me on the street, I can show you a photo of Opie or the alpacas, but no one cares.

I like the camera, but I can never remember that I have a camera on my phone because it's incongruous; to me, that's like having a toaster that also vacuums.

In short, I fail miserably when it comes to doing the things that cool people do.

One of the early complaints I heard about the iPhone was that it lacked sufficient storage capacity. So I loaded every single photo and every single song from my computer onto the phone, only to learn that I had used up about 2 percent of the gadget's hard drive. That makes me feel like a pathetic, cultural illiterate, whose multimedia collection is so skimpy that it doesn't even make a shirt pocket-sized device flex its muscle.

I wait for people to call, so I can whip out my new phone and show everyone how cool I am in public, but no one ever does. This is probably a side result of the fact that I haven't given anyone my number. I'm not even sure what it is myself.

Even with all that, I love -- absolutely love -- the iPhone. What does that say about me? That's the one question the iPhone can't seem to answer.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on www.antpod.com.

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