Bill said: "I am looking at the things the iPhone can do that would save the weight of the paper stuff I carry. My note book and pencil even though they are light still weigh something. I can give up my paper maps and my paper trail guide and download what I need into the iPhone memory. The iPhone could replace my digital camera. My camera is light but it is still just a little heavier than the iPhone."
FWIW, I personally wouldn't feel comfortable going with my only map source being an electronic device. But it could allow me to carry a more limited set of maps.
On my device, the camera is definitely the weakest link --- it's maybe "good enough" considering just what you're talking about, all the other functionality I get rolled into it. But it has no zoom, and picture quality is sort of so-so, and it doesn't handle movement well at all.
You might consider listing and sort of "weighting" the value of all the different functional uses you would get out of such a device, whether iPhone or other. And again, consider perhaps other devices --- IMO the Apple imprimateur is irrelevant, it boils down to what functionality the device delivers, and how well and reliably it delivers it.
My functiality list, just perhaps for reference:
- voice recorder
Some of these in turn include sub-categories, particularly "PDA". My device runs Microsoft's mobile OS, and includes Word, Excel, and lots of off-the-shelf software is available for it. For example, I downloaded a free app that displays sun and moon rise and set times for the current day on my "today" screen. I can read pdf documents, and I bring along a lot of reference info, everything from the user manual for my overly complicated watch to an excel spreadsheet with metric-to-english-to-kitchen conversion table, etc etc.
Electronic books are nice to have, if not on the trail then maybe waiting at a post office or in a trail town. MP3 includes the possibility of audio books.
Internet access allows me to check trail reports for sections ahead of me, and maybe weather reports, and news stories (a lot of California appears to be on fire lately for those doing the PCT this year ...).
And I plan to have to keep a journal via www.trailjournals.com when I do the PCT in 2008.
I think that to pick the right device (if any), a person would do well to think through all the functionality they would get and how much the various functions mean to them. I didn't care at all about an MP3 player until I tried it on a recent trip --- for a "long boring with no views" stretch it can be nice, or to settle me down mentally to go to sleep if I'm not in a sleeping frame of mind. So it turns out it does have some value for me.