I love gadgets, gizmos, computers, techno-toys and digital doo-dads. If it runs on ones and zeros, I either own it, want to buy it, or know everything about it.

I'm also a big tech-news junkie. I subscribe to several dozen news feeds from tech-oriented Web sites, which I read religiously. (Google Reader is a godsend if you read many RSS feeds.)

That being said, you now understand why June 29, 2007, has been circled on my calendar for months. One of the single largest consumer electronic launches in history and the most-hyped device in recent memory was released Friday - the Apple iPhone.

Since Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the iPhone at the Macworld conference in early January, I have been captivated by every shred of information released about the device. I even installed a program on my laptop to count down the days, hours, minutes and seconds until it went on sale.

When the time came, I was ready. I stayed at work late the night before so I could leave early on Friday. Unlike Mayor Street, who had a representative outside the store since the wee hours, I got in line at 4 p.m. for the 6 p.m. launch.

While some may think it is absurd to stand in line for hours for a phone (a $600 phone at that), I enjoyed spending the time with fellow Apple fans. We discussed the many features that made the iPhone so compelling and speculated about how many phones the AT&T store had in stock.

The doors opened at 6 p.m. and I was about 50 people back in the line. A security guard ushered us in in small groups and we were paired with an employee. I picked the model I wanted (the iPhone is offered in four- and eight-gigabyte versions), and the employee walked the device over to a man at the door who sealed it in a branded AT&T bag.

Like a gem

It felt like I had just purchased a diamond necklace at a high-end jewelry store instead of a phone.

By 7 p.m., I was heading home to play with my new toy.

Opening Apple hardware is a big part of the fun, so I took my time to savor each moment. My initial reaction was that the iPhone is smaller and thinner than I imagined. It is also fairly hefty.

Once I had the phone activated, I had to start testing. Of course, my fiancée had to be the first person I called. (For a geek, the inaugural call on an iPhone is a precious thing. I figured if the engagement ring didn't clue her in, calling her first on the new phone definitely should.)

Bekah wasn't quite as thrilled with iPhone as I was. With our wedding coming up in less than a month, she felt I should wait until after we were married so we could get a phone plan together. Her argument was well-founded, but my irrational desire won out in the end.

Photographic record

My roommates were more enthusiastic. I yelled, "iPhone!" and they came running. They waited patiently as I ceremoniously un-boxed the device, stopping to photograph each step.

Finally I let each of them test the iPhone. The unanimous reaction? "Wow, this is cool." Their fingers danced across the screen in wonder, just as mine had when I used the demonstration unit in the AT&T store an hour earlier.

The real power of the iPhone evolved over the weekend, as I used it in everyday situations. During lunch in Old City on Saturday, my roommate and I were discussing how Philadelphia is now the sixth-most populated city in the country. I wondered what the top cities in the world were, so I pulled out my iPhone and did a quick Google search. In a few seconds we had the list.

On Sunday, I felt like grabbing a snack-wrap for lunch. Since I wasn't sure which restaurant was closest, I searched for McDonald's in the Google Maps application and quickly found 10 locations, each entry complete with addresses and phone numbers.

The phone made a huge impact on my Facebook page as well. I quickly updated my profile with a picture of myself holding the phone, and soon after, I received a dozen or so inquisitive and congratulatory messages.

So, after my first weekend with my iPhone, was it worth the months of obsession? Yes! The screen is gorgeous, every detail seems like it was created after thoughtful consideration, and the touch interface is quick and responsive. It is unlike any phone, music player, or other portable device I have ever used - think of it as a mini laptop with a clean and simple touchscreen interface instead of a keyboard and mouse.

Plus, I have the entire season of The Office in my pocket. Pretty satisfying.