Peter M Howard ::

Rethinking that Convergent Gadget

04Apr2006/05Apr2006 [wishlist]

Mostly inspired by my current cash-strapped state, and the lack of any paid prospects, I've been thinking about the gadget I want. I'm starting to wonder if maybe I want two separate gadgets: one that can go in the pocket and does the things I want always-on access to (eg music, phone, camera, in that order), and a separate one in the bag that's not used as regularly -- not a fully-fledged laptop but certainly a bigger screen than a smartphone offers -- mostly for email, internet and notes.

So I've taken my previous list of requirements, and tried to prioritise them (the bold options being the ones I want all-the-time access to):

  • Phone: calls, SMS
  • PIM: calendar, tasks, contacts
  • PIM: notes
  • Media Player: mainly audio
  • Web Browser and Feed Reader
  • WiFi
  • External media
  • Peripherals: eg larger keyboard and portable headset
  • Camera: for snaps

(I split what I'd called 'PDA' into two PIM sections: one calendar, tasks and contacts, and another notes. I'm thinking that the first PIM stuff I want predominantly electronic so I don't have multiple copies of things; but notes I can jot down on paper if I don't have a keyboard handy.)

While two separate gadgets is slightly more expensive than one smartphone, I 'save' because for now I'll only buy the music/phone/camera bit, and get the second one later... Still not sure if that'd be a small laptop (eg a 12" MacBook) or a tablet like the Nokia 770 (not interested in a Windows Tablet).

Also, part of the reason I wanted the feed reader on one gadget was so that I could catch up on some reading while away from the home computer... But after a couple weeks of uni I'm finding that I'm not really needing that. When I want to read I've got enough on paper, between set readings for classes and magazines. And I'm even thinking of downloading podcasts to the phone to keep up that way while riding the bus...

Of course this falls apart if I think too much about the fact that I want that always-on net connectivity, for email/IM/news access... Though given the state of wireless internet options in Sydney I'm probably limited to using the 3G phone networks anyway, so could do so from a phone... And there seems to be fairly decent software for phones to cover these needs -- it will at least keep me connected enough to do IM and read emails, though sending emails is trickier from a phone. ...Not a huge problem though as I can probably get to a computer relatively easily at uni anyway.

I wrote the above a couple weeks ago, and have had it sitting on my laptop as I researched my phone options. And now I think I've found the one I want. It's the Nokia 6280 ( link) and it's under half the price of the N series phones I was looking at. It's 3G and does the basics I need: Music/Phone/Camera and PIM. What does one pay twice the cost for? A better interface (Nokia's S60, meaning Symbian apps can be installed instead of just Java ones) and Wifi, and the associated battery loss... And with wireless internet in such a hopeless state here in Sydney (whether with WLAN or 3G, there's patchy connectivity and it's absurdly expensive) I probably won't be using it much in the next couple years...

Update: Rethinking: The quoted section all still applies, but not sure about the phone. ...Am now trying to decide whether or not I want 3G. It's annoying, because the 3G offerings now are pretty hopeless, but there's a lot of potential (but then, there has been for a few years now) and I want this phone to last...