I’m wondering what is causing phone manufacturers to keep inching towards the gap, but never quite closing it. What gap am I talking about? Well, the netbook/phone-gap of course. Early this year, I was very excited about Asus’ plans for the T101h. At the time, I was using a Nokia N95 8Gb. Now, we’re 8 months on and I’m using an Apple iPhone 3G 16Gb and Nokia has just announced the Nokia N900. At the same time, Asus’ ideas are being used by others like Fuyijama with the E-1001.
What all these devices have in common, is that you can stick a SIM card in them and use them to access the internet. Granted, with the iPhone I’m using I had to jump to more than a few hoops to actually get that to work, but rest assured I broke no laws in the process (unless buying a second-hand iPhone breaks a law somehow). What these devices also share, with the exception of the N95, is a touchscreen.
So, what’s this gap I’m talking about? The voice-capability! You cannot place a phone call with the T101h or the E-1001. Somehow, it seems that sizing up these devices causes them to lose phone capabilities somewhere along the line. Even though you can stick a SIM card in them, these devices are unable to use them for their original intended purpose: connecting to a mobile voice network.
Another thing that seems to ‘have to break’ when you scale up a phone is a decent camera. For some reason, Asus and Fuyijama seem to think that my desire to shoot a decent image disappears once I have a decent screen and a keyboard. Or, if you want, decent camera’ s and phone capabilities magically appear when you scale down a device far enough.
Come on people, stop feeding us these devices that just miss the mark. I know you’d like us to buy a few more devices before we finally get one that pretty much does it all. But at least offer something that has a 10-inch swiveling touchscreen, a 5MP camera, a physical qwerty-keyboard as well as an on-screen one and all the capabilities my 10-year old mobile has. Put it out at a premium, I don’t care. But while you’re at it, allow me to stick in at least one SIM card, get 3G and Wifi and stick in decent GPS as a bonus. Give it a normal 3.5mm jack and a regular mini-USB port as well as a memory expansion slot and we’re all set.
None of that is innovative, none of it is impossible to combine. The only innovative feature I want to see is the possibility to answer my phone, no matter the position of the screen and no matter the power state of the device (standby, on, booting). Sure enough, having all those functions will put a serious load on its battery (that’s why you need to be able to turn stuff off with just a few taps) but my iPhone only lasts a day too and I still use that. The revolution here will be that I no longer need to drag around 2 devices, but just the one. Hell, I’ll even promise I’ll buy a nice carrying sleeve (as long as it allows me to still answer the phone when it’s in there).
(oh, and more on my N95-8Gb vs. iPhone 3G later, it’s not an open-and-shut affair, sadly)