Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Adventure Nomad’s iPhone 3G Review

Want to buy me something for Christmas? How about the Otterbox Defender Case for the iPhone 3G

The iPhone 3G has proven to be a most versatile and useful gadget that would suit the needs of most urban travelers to a tee, but how does it measure up for adventure travelers? After using it for over a week in Northern Thailand, here’s my take on it:

Mobile Internet Device
This is where the iPhone shines and probably the main reason you bought one. I was also considering an Asus Eee PC and the iPod Touch, but I’m glad I went with the iPhone. Mainly because it syncs seamlessly with my Mac, but also because you are more likely to have your iPhone with you should you unexpectedly come across a WiFi hotspot. WiFi hotspots are popping up all over the world, usually at coffee shops. My routine has been to find a coffee shop, buy a cup of coffee, click on my newspaper app, and then surf a bit while the news and my email automatically download. If I’m short on time, I can just stand outside the coffee shop to download my email and read it offline.

Solio Classic Solar Charger

Power
Power is the Achilles heel of electronic gadgets for adventure travelers. If you’re iPhone is constantly on, such as if using an app like MotionX GPS, you may only get 5 hours of battery life. (Tip: put the device on airplane mode in the backcountry where there is no cell coverage anyway). Normal usage demands that you recharge the iPhone’s non-replaceable battery nightly, and this may not be possible in adventure travel. An external battery pack like the Mophie Juice Pack - Case and Rechargeable Battery for iPhone 3G can extend the useable time and a solar charger like the Solio Hybrid Solar Charger with the iPhone 3G Adapter Tip (available from www.solio.com) can recharge both the batteries of the iPhone, and the Juice Pack.

Mophie Juice Pack for iPhone 3G

Keyboard
The iPhone employs a non-tactile, virtual keyboard using the iPhone’s LCD screen. After an intensely frustrating first week of mistyping SMS text messages and email, I’m finally beginning to learn to use it properly. Still, the iPhone’s virtual keyboard is probably the most elegant, compact and lightweight solution at the moment.

Survivability

I’m not kidding myself; this is not a rugged gadget. This is probably the most expensive, fragile, hydrophobic gadget I’ve ever stuffed into my pocket. It was not built to withstand the rigors of outdoor living in any way. At the moment, mine lives encased in a cheapo silicone case stuffed into a Ziploc bag, but I might get a better silicone case, like the Otterbox Defender for iPhone 3G, for outdoor adventures. How long will it survive? I’m well known for destroying gadgets, and so only time will tell…

3 comments:

jungle runner said...

Great review! Might be the push I need.

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