iPhone Case Reviews – InCase, Clarifi & The Naked Case

Got a quickie post this evening. I’ve had my iPhone for a few months now, and given the delicate nature of the phone, I’ve sampled many a case for protection. Tonight I’m highlighting three cases, all of which are excellent, but two fall short based on the same design flaw.

First up the Naked Case by Case Mate.

What attracted me to this case was the premise of the iPhone being fully enclosed within a protective shell. It helped that a friend already uses the case, and mentioned she dropped her phone twice with no ill effects. I looked through various reports, and the only negative comment I could find about the case was condensation that sometimes appeared on the iPhone’s screen. Reports of this weren’t widespread, and my friends who have the case said it really wasn’t an issue. I happened to catch the case on special, and dropped $20 to have one shipped. The case arrived, and my experience was just as advertised by Case Mate. Overall a sturdy case, and the touch screen worked through the front cover as expected. Unfortunately, the case was REALLY slick. The hard plastic was quickly covered with finger oils (and some of you are laughing because you know I’m an OCD handwasher), and the screen was quickly covered in finger prints. The finger prints I could deal with as the iPhone screen was really quite good, but I just couldn’t hold the phone without worrying about it slipping out of my hand.

Second entry the Clarifi case by Griffin Technology.

Clarifi Case for iPhone 3G

I discovered this case because I currently use Evernote on my iPhone. The Clarifi case comes with a sliding macro lens to help improve closeup images taken with your iPhone. In fact, it improves the close range to about 4 inches. This lens is extremely useful for things like snapping books, CDs, DVDs, or in my case business cards. <off topic>Evernote has OCR search functions for images, so I can take a picture of a business card, but search the text in it later.</off topic>  After the disappointment with the Naked Case, I was pretty excited about this one just based on everyday usefulness. The case cost more $34.99, but arrived within short order. Functionally, getting the iPhone in the case was similar to the Naked Case. Essentially, two pieces, one that slides over the length of the phone, and a bottom piece that slides and locks into position. The macro lens slides back & forth and I noticed quite a difference when taking closeup photos. The product worked as advertised. Unfortunately, the Clarifi case suffered from the same design flaw as the Naked Case. The polycarbonate material while sturdy was also slick. The case had rubberized grips on the side, but still felt a bit slippery. The other thing I noticed after a few days of use, dust gathered pretty quickly on the lens, which was hard to clean without a tool of some kind. In my case, a Q-tip worked well, but the point was to have immediate access to the lens as required.

Third entry, and current case, the Slider Case by Incase.

I purchased this case at an Apple Store for one reason only – the rubberized grip. While the case is plastic like others listed above, the outside surface has a bit of grip, and doesn’t absorb any oils from hands & fingers. There isn’t any screen protection so I use a Power Support anti-glare screen cover. While my iPhone screen is not as bright, I have found this screen cover works amazingly well simply because it doesn’t hold finger prints.

In closing, the downside of online ordering is the lack of immediate user experience. If I had spent more time with the Clarifi or Naked Case prior to purchase, I probably would have held off buying at all. Now, my experience may be different from yours. For me, the slick feel of the polycarbonate cases lowered my confidence in what daily use would be like, but the Naked Case excels in overall protection, and I really need the macro lens feature of the Clarifi case. For now, I’m using the Slider Case daily, and grabbing the Clarifi simply when I’m in the office to snap closeup images.

iPhone Dedication to @JohnHays

This is a quick late night post for John Hays; my buddy who’s slowly joining the Cult of Mac. Today John grabbed an iPhone, the precursor to next week’s Apple shopping spree I’m soooooo jealous. The good news is John will probably have me over to do some setup stuff, and I’ll get to drool over his new toys. But I digress…

Earlier today the subject of iPhone apps came up, because, well… what’s an iPhone without apps? Now there are a ton of lists out there, but one more (especially one written for my pal) can’t be bad for folks wanting to know. So here in no particular order is my list of iPhone apps:

1. Air Sharing by Avatron – turns the iPhone into a WiFi accessible hard drive. Use it all the time in class to transfer files for students. Jumped in when it was a free app, sells now for about $6.99.

2. Evernote – The ability to take notes in many forms, e.g., audio, photo, text, on-the-go then sync with a computer makes this part of my everyday arsenal.

3. 1Password – I have not converted everything over to this utility. Graham at ImJustCreative recommends a solid system for password recall, but I do find it convenient for the numerous websites that require a password.

4. Twittelator ProTweetDeck is my desktop computer Twitter client of choice, but for on-the-go iPhone communications, you can’t beat Twittelator Pro. The ability to group tweets makes this app useful for tracking conversations.

5. NetNewsWire – All the hip kids are grabbin’ RSS feeds to stay on top of their favorite sites, and NetNewWire is the Mac OS X app of choice. Now on the iPhone.

6. Shazam – This is probably my favorite “not work” app. When you have an 8-Track player in your car, the radio is all you got for current tunes. Letting Shazam pick the artist’s info from my FM station, and tag it so I can purchase from iTunes is AWESOME.

7. Shozu – I’m hoping to get to a one-post-one-email system to upload images to all my social networks, but Shozu does the job sending to sites one-by-one.

8. Sportacular – Finally, one app to bring me football scores each weekend.

9. Fake Calls – Hey look, I just got a call from Scott Kelby! Just kidding, but the idea of having an escape plan is great for those awkward social moments.

10. Google Earth – You too can hold the world in the palm of your hand.

I left out some obvious choices like Facebook, MySpace & Remote as it won’t be long before those apps are just on the iPhone at time of purchase. To finish off this post, here’s a link to 11 different iPhone App review sites.

If you know of a cool app, that both John & I should get, leave some comments with your suggestions.

Can’t All This Technology Work Together?

I know I’ve been horrible with updates to the blog… bad blogger, bad BAD blogger. That’s an issue for another time. This evening I’m throwing out a quick rant, and maybe a little stream of consciousness for you my dear readers.

Picked up an iPhone two months back when my Windows Mobile phone finally kicked the bucket. The timing was good because my Sprint contract had finally ended, and the only thing I do on a PC anymore is Outlook. Many readers know I have been trying to cut my PC ties for a while now, and this moment seemed to press the issue. So after much debate, I took the plunge and made the complete jump to the darkside.

I’ve been limping along ever since…

Let me be clear, I am happy using a Mac. I switched because I got tired of being my own Geek Squad whenever I needed to do something on the computer. Frankly, my Mac does what I need it to do, no more, no less. When I’m finished with it, I can power it off. Yes, it does crash, but the geek in me isn’t constantly on duty, fixing stuff.


Like any relationship, things are not always perfect, and my relationship with my Mac could use some improvements. Specifically, contact management, calendar & email. I asked before about a good Outlook replacement, and received a few suggestions. After looking at several items, I settled on using Contacts & iCal, and use Entourage for email. The switch to iCal has been okay, I didn’t like losing all the categories I used in Outlook, but iCal is the best fit for the iPhone (surprise).

Which brings us to my rant…

I realized this afternoon that I could subscribe to many of the Meetup calendars I support, reducing the need to manually enter events. I spent about 30 minutes loading the various calendars into iCal only to discover they don’t sync via MobileMe to the iPhone. A quick Google search led me to Jeff Croft who posted on the MobileMe Sync shortcoming. His suggested work around maybe an option, or I could use the suggestion to sync with Google calendars. Johnny Sewell was nice enough to give me a coupon for Spanning Sync.

Which brings us to the second part of my rant…

I want ONE system to track calendar info, not a collection of programs that will “collaborate” if they’re in the right mood. I shouldn’t have to take my Google calendar subscribe it to my Meetup calendars then sync that to iCal on my desktop computer so it uploads nicely to MobileMe which can then “push” it down to my iPhone. Blech… it was bad enough when I had to do a USB connection with my Window Mobile phone and wait 2 hours each day for syncing, but at least it was one app. What’s annoying is according to Jeff Croft’s post on the topic the .MAC service had proper syncing to the iPhone, which was broken with MobileMe. At least Apple knows there’s a problem (TS1213 article), so we can hope it might be addressed.

Back in September Tech Savvy Mama posted on “Paper vs Online Calendars.” At the time I didn’t think about it, but today’s events made me realize something… technology puts us on a path of continual migration. The communications technology that has stayed current throughout all our 21st century accomplishments is pencil & paper. Say what you will about saving trees, but the fact remains some of us have migrated our computer data from tape to floppy disk to bernoulli drive to jazz drive to zip disk to CDs to DVDs to Blue-Ray.

As of this moment, I haven’t found an answer to my current calendar dilema. I’ll be rooting through searches I’ve made online, but certainly welcome any suggestions.

Have You ICEd Your Cellphone?

“Always be prepared.” is an idea so easily set aside in today’s hurried society. It seems in this age of technology, the cycles of change are only coming faster. Consumers are faced with a decision to either keep up with the each new wave of gadgetry or ignore new tech altogether. I was surprised to learn roughly 20% of American households were not so tech savvy.

In terms of preparedness, if you’re reading this blog, then I assume you’re tech savvy enough to backup your computer. Whether you’re a photographer, graphic artist, music lover, or just “Joe Consumer” you probably have at least one piece of data you’ve copied someplace for safe keeping.

Today, I want to talk about another kind of disaster recovery. If Katrina (and the threat of Gustav) have taught us anything, it’s that there are more important plans to consider than just backing up your computer data. Here are some quick thoughts for building your own disaster recovery plan:

1. What do you absolutely need?
In the event you have to evacuate your home immediately (fire, tornado, etc.), you don’t have time to gather up everything. Make the decision ahead of time about the necessary items, your family, pets, clothes, money, water, food, etc. Build a disaster kit, and make sure household members know where the kit is located. I use clear plastic storage bins purchased from WalMart for our home. Easy to see stuff without opening everything.

2. Keep valuables offsite.
Items of value rarely used should be kept offsite if possible. Jewelry, art, photo albums, items that you only pull out on occasion, but would be devastating if lost. Consider public storage or safe deposit if an affordable option. How about an offsite backup of your computer data? I have external drives I physically rotate to offsite storage, and I just started using Google & MobileMe for redundancy.

3. Weather proof storage.
If there are items you choose to keep in the home, consider a weather proof safe or filing cabinet. I say weather proof because “fire proof” does not mean the unit won’t suffer water damage. We have several Sentry safes & cabinets in our home.

4. ICE your cell phone.
My ICE CredentialsDisaster planning is not limited to large scale catastrophic events. What happens if you’re in a car wreck? If you have a personal accident in the home? Will the paramedics find identifiable information on your person to assist you? ICE is an initiative creating awareness by making emergency contact info readily available on your cell phone, and a free ICE website also provides laminated wallet emergency contact cards (cause what happens if your cell phone is broken). Click the image thumbnail to see an example of the ICE wallpaper I use on my iPhone. The image displays when the iPhone powers up until my passcode is entered. (That’s right I passcode protect my cell phone. Don’t you?)

5. Know your escape plan.
Having everything in place doesn’t mean anything if you panic during a catastrophe. One way to reduce panic is by practicing your escape plan. Fire drills and the like sound silly, but in a real emergency you’ll spend less time thinking (panicking), and quickly get out safe.

The items I’ve mentioned were mostly in the context of disaster planning, but they can also be applied to home/personal safety. I use something similar to the ICE card for my credit info. I have designated disaster kits in case of a home robbery. The escape plan for a fire is not the same one used for a tornado.

UPDATE 01/20/2010Terry White reviewed the quick & easy ICE application Close Call for the iPhone.

Bottom line, preparing for disaster is time well spent, and if you think you’re rushed now…

Adobe Releases Lightroom 2

Adobe has released Lightroom 2. Information Week has a summary of all the new Lightroom 2 features for anyone who did not download the beta. Eric Bernskiold has a blog post with links to learning resources for Lightroom. Go visit the Lightroom Community education center where you can chat with Dallas’s resident expert Gene McCullagh.

As with the CS3 suite, I would recommend this upgrade to anyone looking to improve their Adobe digital workflow. The improved Library support, and targeted adjustment brush in the Develop module expand both the function and creativity of Lightroom. Look for a more detailed review on this blog in the upcoming weeks.