Mobile
Commentary
7/15/2009
08:03 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary
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Do People Want An Uber Device?

I think we've all at one time or another looked for an uber device, the mobile device that does everything we want, replacing the multiple gadgets we currently carry around. However, is that really what people want given the realities of physical size and technological limitations?

I think we've all at one time or another looked for an uber device, the mobile device that does everything we want, replacing the multiple gadgets we currently carry around. However, is that really what people want given the realities of physical size and technological limitations?Media Post has an article on how people aren't looking for an uber device, but rather multiple devices that do a few things very well and it got me thinking about all of the things I need a mobile device to do. Here is a list off the top of my head:

  • GPS/location base services
  • Music
  • Video
  • Pictures - both take and display
  • Email
  • Instant messaging/chat
  • Games
  • Phone (voice)
  • Web browsing
  • WiFi
  • Texting

If you look at that list and had a single device that did all of that, and did it well, it would have to be a device from a universe where the laws of physics were different. Just look at a few of the features. First of all, a camera phone is ok for quick and dirty pics, but no cell phone camera, even those with some of the 5+MP lenses will rival a pure camera if nothing else because they won't have optical zoom capabilities. Plus, taking pictures is comparatively battery intensive, so if you take 50-100 shots in a day, as you might when on vacation, you'd kill the battery life of your phone. So most people have to have a dedicated camera.

Video and games, at least action games, can also be very battery intensive. They keep the screen on and at full brightness during playback and are pumping a lot of sound through the speaker jack. Again, if you use your phone for this even while on a 3-4 hour airplane ride, your phone likely won't make it through the day on that charge. If your phone can swap out the battery, you are fine, but otherwise, a dedicated gaming device or personal media player such as an iPod Touch or Zune is the better bet.

Web browsing is best done on a computer, and netbooks do a great job of this. They run desktop browsers and can handle flash content. You'd never consider a netbook though for texting or using as your primary phone. The flip side of this is while your smartphone can access just about any email account you have, the phone is best for email triage. You can catch up on your reading and respond to a few of them, but heavy replying and composing are best left to devices with screens far to large for a phone and a real touch typing keyboard.

I could go on, and there are some features running through your head right now that I didn't have on my list. You get the idea though. Some of the features I listed are almost mutually exclusive on a single device. Your best bet is to decide what key features you need, then look for a small array of devices that will fit your needs.

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