On Monday 9 June Apple CEO Steve Jobs will walk on to the stage at the World Wide Developer Conference and reveal a new version of the iPhone that will totally blow the first away.
It’ll probably have 3G, more storage, support for Bluetooth stereo headphones and a much better digital camera and even video call support. And if current rumours are to be believed, O2 will make it absolutely, totally 100 per cent free. Sorry, how much did you pay for the iPhone again?
As new inventions go though, the iPhone has been kind to early adopters - thanks to incremental software updates that should still make it usable by the time fourth and fifth gen iPhone rolls around.
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It’s also suffered few of the reliability problems, bugs and underachieving features that early adopters of other gadgets have had to put up with. We’ll look at those it has in more detail later, but for now let’s take a look some of other hardware and software devices you would have been wise to avoid:
Panasonic DMR-HS1 HDD / DVD recorder
A thousand pounds for what exactly?
In the days before BitTorrent, 4oD and the BBC iPlayer - you had three choices when it came to watching catch-up TV: record to crumbly old VHS, stump up for Sky subscription and get yourself a Sky+ box, or to sweet talk your bank manager into giving you £1,000 for this - the UK’s first DVD / HDD recorder.
Released just five years ago, the DMR-HS1 was cutting-edge for its time - it could record analogue TV to DVD-RAM or DVD-R discs, had a 40GB hard disk and a GUI that looked like it belonged in Windows 1.0. In it way it was marvellous... well for about six months or so until the DVD / HDD recorder market was flooded with rival recorders that could do more for less.
Within two years Panasonic was offering 160GB models that could also play DVD-RW discs, but by then it was way too late - we’d all fallen in love with personal video recorders. Another one for the early adopter attic.
Sony NW-MS70D Network Walkman
With this Atrac codec you are really killing us
No other consumer electronics company is as innovative as Sony, but for every PlayStation, there’s also been a Betamax, including the NW-MS70D - a flash-based portable music player that made its debut in 2003.
To be honest, the Network Walkman was doomed from the start.
Sony’s biggest mistake was its insistence on using Atrac, a proprietary digital audio codec that Sony had first used in for MiniDisc (another relative failure) - you couldn’t even play the wildly popular MP3s on it without converting them first. That was a a mistake Apple didn’t make with its first iPod, which also made its debut in 2003.
The Network Walkman was also damned by its lack of capacity - 512MB compared to the 5GB offered by the iPod. Perhaps the biggest error was the SonicStage software Sony insisted use to get songs on to the Network Walkman in the first place. It was ugly, bloated, buggy and a royal pain in the arse to use.
Unfortunately for Sony it didn’t give up on Atrac for another three years. You can guess what happened in between.
Fujitsu Plasmavision 42-inch plasma display
Well it's big, we'll give you that
This was the first plasma TV ever to go on sale in the UK, making its debut in 1997. Seeing it in the flesh was a bit like finding the Holy Grail, Shergar and Lord Lucan all in one go. (Lord Lucan if that’s you, give it up sunshine).