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What I "Really" want for Christmas - RonO's Ramblings

Dec. 10th, 2004 09:30 am What I "Really" want for Christmas

(But I cannot have it because I don't think its made yet)

I'm not all that big on the idea of having one electronic tool that does it all. In my experience this often leads to a tool that optimizes its primary function at the expense of secondary functions[*].

For example, making a single device that would combine the functions of a cell phone and a PDA sounds like a good idea. But most of the attempts I've seen have ended up either being a cell phone with limited PDA capabilities (appointment books that you access using the phone keypad and some menus) or PDAs with a microphone and transmitter. The former are just plain difficult to use, even with technology that allows for quicker entry of words, and the later make for uncomfortable to hold phones. (As an exercise, hold your PDA up to your ear like a phone and see the potential issue).

We are getting better. My employer's (Motorola's) new A630 looks like a decent compromise (see their information sheet) by hiding a small QWERTY keyboard inside a sideways opening candybar phone.

But, I'm not sure I'm ready to give up on the flexibility of separate devices. This leads me to what I'd like to see my employer and their competitors and the manufactures of PDAs (palmOne etc.) do: utilize blue-tooth technology to allow a PDA to communicate with the Internet using the capabilities of a nearby cell phone.

Specifically what I want for Christmas, but cannot get, is a new PalmOS PDA with blue-tooth so it can connect to my new blue-tooth enabled iDen phone (I'm not up to changing carriers right now) allowing me to access Internet sites from the PDA without loosing any of the form or functionality of either of my existing devices (a Motorola i730 phone, and a 3-or-so year old Handspring Visor platinum).

For now, I'll just have to live with what I've got.

Footnote follows:

[*] In the mid-1980's I coined a definition for "Integrated Software Package" that only recently quit being appropriate, but still applies to a lesser degree to integrated electronic devices: "An integrated software package is a software package that does many different functions, all poorly."

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Date:December 10th, 2004 11:35 am (UTC)
The primary obstacle, IMO, to having a device that can do multiple jobs well and be portable is the interface. A cell phone that you want to do a bit of SMS on is fine with the existing keypad. A PDA that you want to have a large amount of information available for reference is great if you don't want to do a lot of input, but it's definitely better for input than a phone. A laptop is better for getting a lot of information input, but is horrible to have to carry around.

Interface and form factor.

What I think you're asking for, and what I've always been a big fan of, is multiple ways to share the same information. Information must be separate from presentation.

This means my phone can have the text of war and peace on it if I want to read it, but I'm likely to be more interested in keeping some notes like directions on it along with my address book. You give another example where the phone should be a seamless portal to the Net. (Matter of fact, it is in some cases via bluetooth and gprs and I know people who have used their laptop and their pda this way although I don't know what pda it was. I think maybe it was an HP.)

I was pleased to be able to share my contacts in Palm Desktop with my Nokia phone, but when I moved to the LG, I lost that ability. I know people who have bluetooth phones with AT&T that simply put it next to their macintosh and get their entire contact list pushed down to it.

We're back to the Internet paradigm: Easy to share stuff, just come up with a clean presentation for it.