Weekly output: iPhone 5 (x4), Apple Maps, Google Now, Oblong

This looks like a lot of words on one phone… and it is. Counting the post that ran last week, I wound up filing almost 2,000 words on the iPhone 5 for CNNMoney’s four-part series. (Yes, back in May I posted an item here questioning the usefulness of 2,000-word gadget reviews. Ahem.) The Discovery News post added about 600 more to the total. And this week’s USA Today piece covers the iPhone 5′s maps app, so you might as well put that on my tab too.

But: I enjoyed how all this worked out. I appreciated having some time to consider this phone virtues instead of rushing to dump my judgment into, at best, a first-look post and then a column written a day later.

9/24/2012: iPhone 5 Can Go The Distance But Gets Lost, Discovery News

This post also benefited from the pacing of the CNNMoney series–because I wrote it after the first chapter of that bunch, I didn’t feel like I was starting from scratch with the review. I also think that the exercise of distilling my assessment into one post helped define the structure of the rest of that project.

9/24/2012: IPhone 5 journal: LTE performance and photos, CNNMoney.com

Earlier this year, I started posting sample photos taken with review hardware to Flickr, and that’s helped a lot when writing posts like this–I can see how pictures from the iPhone 5′s camera compare with those from older models instead of thinking “well, they look okay.” And then reviewers can conduct the same inspection and see for themselves.

9/26/2012: IPhone 5 journal: Torture testing the battery, CNNMoney.com

I had higher hopes for the iPhone 5′s battery life, considering Apple’s claims (it has a history of shipping hardware that matches or slightly exceeds them) and my early experience. But as I wrote here, while this does better than other LTE phones, it doesn’t beat them by a huge margin; you’d still be wise to bring a charger or cable with you if you’re going to out for most of the day, especially if you’ll be on Twitter for much of that time. (Remember that I also keep a running scorecard of my battery-life tests here.)

9/28/2012: IPhone 5 journal: Finding the best, cheapest carrier, CNNMoney.com

My series wrapped up with the most math-intensive part, a comparison of the three primary carriers’ subscription options. The one thing I wish I’d added to it: a cautionary note about how LTE’s faster speeds seem to encourage binging on data. I’ve only had this iPhone 5 for 10 days, but the Settings app reports that I’ve burned through 2.5 gigabytes of cellular data. Yikes.

9/29/2012: How to choose an Apple Maps alternative, USA Today

I’d already filed a column discussing alternatives to the hastily-produced output of Apple’s cartographical Cuisinart, and then Apple CEO Tim Cook had to go and apologize for Apple Maps himself and endorse not just the four options I’d covered but a fifth, Nokia Maps. Hello, rewrite! The piece wraps up with a complaint about another unhelpful source of navigation, Google Now; for a more detailed breakdown of that Android app’s issues, see the post I wrote about it for The Atlantic Cities.

9/29/2012: Hand Waves Control Wall-Sized Games, Discovery News

Discovery likes posts with a touch of sci-fi to them, so I couldn’t turn down a demo of Oblong Industries’ Minority Report-esque interface while I was in San Francisco for the Online News Association’s conference. Veteran tech blogger Robert Scoble must have had the same demo before or after me that Thursday, as he covered Oblong in two posts on Google+ a couple of days before I got around to writing my own.

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Weekly output: TechShop, iPhone 5, WiFi routers, speed tests

Like last week, this week was cut up by travel–in this case, the Online News Association’s conference in San Francisco. (As in, the same city I went to last week for TechCrunch Disrupt.)

9/20/2012: TechShop: Laser Cutters For The People, Discovery News

My last stop before heading home from the Disrupt trip was a two-hour tour of this fascinating workshop–which itself followed a shorter stop when I was in the Bay Area in early June. There are a lot of interesting story angles to TechShop’s story (like the legality of cloning real-world objects using 3-D printing, something I discussed on a panel this summer) that I could only briefly mention in passing in this post. So I will have to find other uses for all the material in my notes.

Speaking of leaving things in one’s notebook, I had to update the post to correct a few errors I let escape into the copy. I hate it when that happens.

9/22/2012: IPhone 5 journal: So about that Maps app…, CNNMoney.com

Perhaps you, too, have heard that Apple began selling a new smartphone this week? My coverage of the new iPhone 5 kicked off with this first post in a series for CNNMoney.com; updates over the next few days will reflect my tests of its camera, performance, battery life and other issues. (I’ll also have a shorter writeup for Discovery.)

Note that this review didn’t involve the usual product loan. After getting the inconclusive responses to my review request from Apple PR that I’ve begun to expect, I bought a new iPhone 5 from a Verizon Wireless store in San Francisco. (Don’t buy a new iPhone on launch day from an Apple Store; the lines are vastly shorter at carriers’ retail outlets.) The downside is that I have to return the thing before VzW’s 14-day trial period ends, lest I get stuck with a two-year contract when I’m already under contract with another carrier; the upside is being able to go ahead and do my job as a reviewer. Which is, you know, kind of liberating.

9/23/2012: Tip: Reconnect your Wi-Fi and test its speed, USA Today

This Q&A item has more abbreviations than I usually want to inflict on readers, but it’s hard to discuss technical networking issues without throwing a few around. The balance of the column shares tips about third-party tools that can assess your Internet connection’s speed; some of that dates to last winter’s reporting on Sonic.net’s gigabit fiber-optic service.