First impressions of the iPhone

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OK, so the iPhone is not really new news as it has been out in the ‘States for 4 months now but that did not stop UK Apple fanatics from being excited about the UK iPhone launch.

The queue at the official Scottish launch in Edinburgh was only around 30 people at 6:02 when the store opened, and some of them were just there to buy normal mobile phones. Nevertheless there was still a buzz in the atmosphere, a calm sophisticated excitement which I have learned to associate with Apple launches. The promotional goodies at the main Edinburgh O2 store included free chocolates, muffins, water and hand warmers. However, in London there were giving away sweatshirts, coffee and pizza! The London queue probably deserved it though as some of them had been there for over 24 hours whereas in Edinburgh the queue only started to form at about 4.30pm.

Apart from the selection of goodies packed in the O2 bag the iPhone box looked like any other well designed phone box such as that of the XDA Orbit. However, when I went to the till to pay that was all I had to do! There was no contract to sign, no monthly rate haggling, no sales banter. All you had to do was pay your £269 and then you could wander out of the shop with your shiny new iPhone. It was more like buying an iPod than a mobile phone.

It is not until you get home that you start the activation process (or rather when you plug it into your MacBook Pro on the move!). This is a pain-free process which took around 15 minutes of my time and about 30 minutes to sync my data and music to the new device. And that includes the time it took to transfer my current number to my new iPhone. So, in around an hour the iPhone was entirely ready to use. That’s impressive in my book – last time I tried to transfer a number it took a week!

However, after I had completed the activation process I noticed a problem. The EDGE network had not been discovered. It was most confusing, annoying and disappointing for a device that seemed to work perfectly in every other way. I followed the advice on the Apple site and did a post-activation reboot (aka turn-it-off-and-back-on-again) which seemed to sort the problem.

Since then playing (sorry working productively) with my iPhone has been a breeze. It’s a joy to use and a wonder to behold 🙂 I’m not surprised that O2 is reporting over 8000 activations on launch day!

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Link returns in the Phantom Hourglass

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The long awaited Zelda title for the game boy DS has finally arrived. With the combination of a new method of game play and a renowned game genre it already looks set to be a classic.

Link’s latest adventure continues where the “Wind Waker” (for GameCube) left off. Link’s pirate friends are merrily sailing the high seas and Zelda has once again renounced her title and returned to her former life as Tetra the pirate. The adventure begins when they are attacked by the mysterious Ghost Ship and (surprise surprise) our beloved Zelda is kidnapped once more. The game player is thrown into a world of pirates, sailing and swashbuckling.

Although true to it’s Zelda roots in many respects, including the music, there are a number differences from previous Zelda titles.

Firstly, and probably most obviously, is the method of game play. Nintendo have made the most of their DS console, utilising the tall split-screen, microphone, hinge and responsive touch screen during gameplay. The control is almost entirely through the touch screen which is a very peculiar sensation for those used to the previous portable titles. However, it becomes second nature within minutes. Scribbling on maps could be seen as a gimmick but it does become useful later in the game.

Secondly, the Phantom Hourglass is remarkably easy to play for a significant proportion of the game. Admittedly it does get rather complex further into the game but for the first few hours of game play there is little to challenge the hardened Zelda fanatic. Although newcomers may love this some die-hard Zelda fans have been less than amused. The in-game world is also much smaller than in previous Zelda titles, mirroring the compact nature of the portable device it runs on. This is actually one of my favourite points of the game as even lengthy journeys are reasonably rapid.

The most notable feature of the Phantom Hourglass is it’s remarkable charm and playability. It feels similar to playing on the Wii for the first time. At first the strange controls and new ideas seem peculiar but very soon you realise that you have been playing for 5 hours and have forgotten about the beer sitting next to you!