iOS4 keeps the iPhone 3G relevant

The arrival of iPhone 4 has overshadowed the arrival of iOS 4. Many of us have held on to our iPhones despite quitting AT&T -this is a testimony to the greatness of the product in that previously, when I changed phones, the phones would be given away or put in a drawer or donated. The iPhone, when disconnected from AT&T, is still a wonderful device -more useful than the iPod Touch because of its great and handy camera. In fact, I call it my iPad Mini.

iOS4 promises multitasking to the iPhone 3GS and the most recent iPod Touch, but alas, not the iPhone 3G. What it does do after a long and convoluted updating process which included a period of time where I thought it was bricked, is make the device even more useful by offering folders which seen above during an App Store update, shows the folder contents with micro icons. When you tap on a folder, its contents show nicely just so:

This degree of intuitive folder behavior is …magical. The other thing that I love about the iOS4 update is the unified mailbox. All your mail accounts are consolidated in the unified box and organized by conversation thread!

The iPhone 3G is two years old, and even though it doesn’t multitask, the upgrades to the user interface and mail are worth it and keeps the device relevant. Even though I carry an HTC Touch Pro2 from Verizon, its days are numbered as I consider an upgrade to Droid X or the holy grail -the Verizon iPhone. The only other piece of technology that stayed in my pocket long after its release and freshness date was the Psion Series 5mx, which I reviewed before. When the Touch Pro2’s days are over, it will go into the dustbin.

BTW, this summer has been very busy, so apologies go out to regular visitors. I promise I will update this blog at least twice a week.

The protonetbook

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Pictured above is the Psion Series 5mx. It was an upgrade of the original Psion Series 5, and no computing gadget has come close to matching its utility.

It had a touch typable keyboard and compact flash drive for additional memory. Its power laid in an amazing operating system EPOC OS that Psion built from scratch. It was rock stable -the kind of stable that you would hope satellites and medical life support equipment were based on. I could routinely run 10-20 programs simultaneously and it just would not crash. The Office suite fit in a space less than a meg of memory -I heard the word module was 22kB!. The elements from each -like graphs, tables, and text were hot linked and autoupdating. And you could convert it to word or rtf or xls.

It ran on 2 AA batteries and could print wireless via IR to HP printers with IR ports -I did this for three years during my residency -eventually creating a database of patient notes that I could look up and reprint for frequently seen patients.

When you wanted to use it, you turned it on. When you were done, you turned it off. No boot up, no worrying about viruses, no nothing. With a phone modem, you could check email and do some light browsing, particularly on WAP sites (the equivalent of todays mobile sites such as m.nytimes.com.

This all came to a sad end when Psion gave up the ghost after creating the inimitable netbook, for which it carries the copyright. Nobody can call anything else a netbook, although common usage is calling a whole class of crappy small laptops.

Why do I call them that. No matter how beautiful the gadget -like the Sony Vaio P series, it’s software determines how useful it is. If you got a Sony Vaio P, for example, you would turn it on, and wait 47 seconds while it booted up. What’s the point except to impress people with your stupid gadget purchase?

The Psion 5mx is so valued that you can still see them on ebay going for 150-200 dollars used. There is a site in England that will sell you pre-owned refurbished units or even NEW units (link). It is illustrative that a the netbook Pro, an “upgrade” that runs Windows CE 4.2 is priced way cheaper than a refurbished netbook running EPOC OS. 

As I have been unhappy with my iPhone as the sole portable device, I have been thinking about keyboarded solutions for blogging. The lack of wireless internet capability of the series 5mx keeps me from purchasing, as I have an Acer Aspire One which I use as a breakfast nook computer for updating Facebook. I am toying with the idea of a Nokia N810 with a bluetooth keyboard as a mobile blogging solution. 

If you needed to go to the unwired parts of the world with no wall outlets, but needed to write a journal of your journey, there is no gadget that I would take other than a Psion 5mx. This was exactly the reason why the fellow who purchased my Psion in Mexico bought it -he was a writer who made frequent trips to rural Mexico and needed a solid portable computer which recorded to a safe medium -nothing more safe than compact flash drive which I have laundered and used without a hitch. AA batteries can be found everywhere but wall outlets are dear, he told me, paying 250 dollars for a five year old unit with printer cables, modem, and other accessories.