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THOUGHT: My Perfect Device [unwired::cast]
Posted by Alfredo Padilla - on Saturday, 02.09.06 - 01:18:35 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 11102x
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One of the nice things about having a forum like this to write in is that you can go on about your random thoughts and people will pay attention (or at least you hope they do). So today I’m going to expand on a topic I touched on in my introduction, my perfect device. (As always download the unwired::cast at the bottom of the article)

Now like all cell phone geeks, of course I would like to have the ultimate device with every possible technology built into a small and portable handset. Since that won’t result in much of a column I instead will take a different approach. I am going to organize the features I want into three categories and then analyze the devices available to see which ones most closely fit my requirements. I will also be asking all of you to share your opinion.

Lets begin by listing all of the features that go into our decisions about smartphones. First of all is the physical build of the device, this can include things like keyboard layout, screen, size, camera. You also have to consider the communications technologies, for example wi-fi, edge, gps, bluetooth. Finally there is software, including the operating system, third party applications and interoperability with different platforms.

In order to make this column shorter I’m going to exclude from this discussion ubiquitous features that any smartphone should have. For example an organizer, basic email support, etc., things that any smarpthone worth its snuff will be able to do out of the box.

Lets start out by listing the “would be nice” features. These are things that would be nice to have but I could live without in almost any device:

GPS
IRDA
Push Email
Touch Screen

GPS is a nice feature, but is easily replaceable with a Bluetooth capable receiver. IRDA is less and less necessary and even HTC seem to think so. A touch screen is a must have for many people, and although I find it convenient I’ve had no problem using a WM smarpthone device that lacks it. Sometimes I even find it inconvenient, like when the device is in my pocket and accidentally gets activated. Finally, some may think me nuts for including push email in this list but in my field of work having instant access to my email just isn’t necessary. I’ve used an exchange server solution for the past couple of months and recently cancelled my account.

Next up are “I really want” feature. These features are not must haves, but it would be significantly painful for me to give them up. These include:

Either 3G or wi-fi
2mp + Camera
Windows Mobile
Word viewing + editing
Navigator button (as opposed to a joystick)
A2DP
Sync support for my Mac

The first item indicates that I am willing to give up one of these as long as I have the other. Basically I need some kind of fast data access but don’t necessarily need both. Having a decent camera on my device is becoming more and more important to me. It’s not yet a must have feature, but it’s getting close, and the 1.3mp cameras that are standard on most devices nowadays just aren’t cutting it for me. Windows mobile is my preferred platform, and I would very much like to stay with it, but if something from Symbian or some other platform came along that met all of my other needs I’d be willing to try it.

As you probably realize if you read/listened to my last thought having a fully operational office suite is important to me, but being able to edit word is slightly less important than excel support (as you will see). Also, I much prefer having a navigator button (like on the HTC Hermes) rather than the joysticks that seem to be so popular on devices today. I really, really want A2DP support, but I’ve lived without it until now and I guess I can again (I guess). Finally, support for syncing with my Mac is extremely important to me. This is probably the item that I most struggled with placing in the “must haves” list, but realistically if the device did everything else I wanted it to I would figure out some other solution (ie. Syncing with Windows via Paralles on my mac).

That brings us to my “must have” features. These are items that I simply could not live without, and include:

QVGA or better screen resolution
QWERTY keyboard on the front of the device
3G or Wi-Fi
Edge
Bluetooth
Excel viewing + editing
Hot swappable memory card
Multi tasking OS
Good Battery Life
Excellent coverage/signal strength
Small/Slim form factor

So, let’s take a look at each of these. First of all the screen resolution, I don’t consider myself a snob when it comes to this, but having used some devices with 240x240 resolution (HP and Palm I’m looking in your direction) it simply pales in comparison with QVGA, especially since I use my smartphone to watch movies and show off my pictures. Given the amount of text entry I do on my device the presence of a QWERTY keyboard has reached the “must have” level for me. And more specifically, I want the QWERTY keyboard to be always accessible, a la the Treo, rather than the slide out variety.

As indicated in the discussion above, I must have either 3G or wi-fi on the device. I’m willing to give up one, but not both. In the same vein of data connections, Edge is a minimum for me given the amount of web browsing and email I do on my device. Bluetooth has also become a must have for me, I use it for file transfers, syncing, headset support, and I imagine as it become more ubiquitous in the future it will become even more valuable.

I’m a big proponent of having a fully featured office suite on all smartphone devices, but if I had to choose one component I simply could not live without Excel editing and viewing functions. Having now lived without a hot swappable memory card for awhile, and using a Mac that makes it difficult to transfer files across usb or Bluetooth I have become a big proponent of having the option of simply pulling out your card and sticking it into a card reader.

I mentioned already that I was willing to pass on Windows Mobile if I had to, but I’m not willing to give up a multi-tasking OS (Palm OS fans I’m looking in your direction now). At any one time I can be surfing the net, listening to music, checking my schedule and email and even taking a picture on my device. I can’t be bothered to be closing one item as I move to the other and then back again.

I also need my device to last at least one full day of the heavy load I demand from it, without worrying about recharging. And, since I tend to travel out to the boonies from time to time, having solid signal strength is a must have. This is also related to the network I use, and frankly nothing beat’s Cingular’s GSM network in the U.S. Plus, having a GSM world phone means that if I ever travel I can bring my device along and use it (this was helpful in St. Lucia during my honeymoon).

Finally, being able to slide the device into my front pocket and not feel like it weighs me down is extremely important (I pause now as all of those who are obsessive about placing their device into triple padded cases surrounded by Styrofoam pick themselves up from their dead faint). I also want it to be comfortable to hold, both in my hand as I work on it and against my head as I talk on the phone.

There you go, those are my rankings of smartphone features, from “must haves” to “really want” and finally “would be nice”. So lets see if I put my money where my mouth is, how does my current device (Cingular 2125/HTC Faraday) stack up to this list? Well, actually, not very well. Some of you may take this as proof that I can actually “live without” some of the features I rated so highly, and this may be true, but having this phone has also helped me decide that some of the features it’s missing are things that I “must have” in any future phone I purchase.

So assuming that I have a few hundred extra dollars lying around (donations welcome) could I go out today, or perhaps in the near future, and get a phone that includes all of my “must have” features? Well, there are a couple of contenders; probably at the forefront is a Symbian phone, the E61. Unfortunately even though this phone includes all of my “must have” features (and I’ve thought about it seriously) it’s missing quite a few of my “really want” features, including Windows Mobile, navigator button, camera and A2DP. What about some upcoming devices like the Excalibur? Well, this may indeed be “the one” for me, but I would like to see how the battery and signal strength stand up in real life usage, guess we’ll just have to wait for Arne on that one. Finally, there is also the upcoming Treo 750, although a little on the bulky side, it meets almost every item I listed except for the screen resolution and camera quality. Again, a device I will consider seriously.

So, after quite a bit of rambling it seems like my “perfect device” is not yet out there, but we’re getting close. What about all of you? Post your thoughts in the comments.


 
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Comments
Posted by bnycastro on 02.09.06 - 06:21:06

Nice post especially for people looking to buy a new device. smile
--
For me the perfect device is:
--
Connectivity:
Quadband GSM/EDGE/GPRS & 3G
WiFi 802.11b or higher
Bluetooth w/ A2DP
miniUSB 5 pin [USB 2.0 atleast]
--
OS/UI/Navigation/Screen:
WindowsMobile 5 for PocketPC Phone Ed [atleast AKU 2.3]
QWERTY [w/ backlight of course]
Touchscreen Input
QVGA [minimum]
Screen size [atleast 2.5 in nothing smaller]
--
Memory/Expansion/Processor/Battery Power:
Hot Swappable [doesn't matter what format as long as it is not one of SONY's]
64Mb RAM/128Mb ROM [minimum, MORE would be better]
Minimum 400Mhz [more is better no TI OMAP's unless they are over 200mhz]
The Battery should atleast last 2 days.
--
Weight/Size/Volume/Form Factor/Look:
Smaller/Lighter the better but not really an issue as long as I get the stuff above.
The least number of moving parts possible.
It has to look nice and professional [this of course is subjective]
--
Price:
Not an issue [what are we working for anyway eh?]
----
Now owning an O2 XDA Exec, I could argue that almost all these things fit in to my criteria... except for AKU2.3, the moving parts thing, and the size/weight. So for now the O2 XDA Exec is as close as I can get, still haven't seen anything else that comes close. I am looking to complement my Exec with a smaller device maybe a WM5SP until 'my perfect device' comes out [hoping it does].

Posted by scarecrow on 03.09.06 - 21:16:04

Was just thinking about this same topic the other day.  This is what I came up with

Specs:
- Quad-Band GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA -- HSDPA will allow for both phone calls and web surfing at the same time; can't do that with the HTC Wizard if we don't count wi-fi
- 802.11a/b/g/n
- Bluetooth -- this technology might be used to unlock house/car, replacing keys
    with A2DP (stereo) profile
- NFC (near field communications) -- this will be used as a replacement for my credit/debit cards
- IR (preferably consumer IR) -- Consumer IR would allow this to be used as a universal remote
- GPS Receiver (SiRF III chipset)
- 2 Cameras (one on front to allow video calls, one on back to take photos) w/ flash - 2 Megapixels for the one on the back
- MP3 player
- Voice recorder
- SMS/MMS
- mini-SD slot at minimum
    mini-SD is currently limited to 2 GB (maybe 4 -- haven't seen one yet); 8 or 16 would be better for music storage
- QWERTY keyboard -- flat (like treo), slider or flip
    after using the Wizard, I prefer the Treo for one-handed use; However, I don't think I can expect a VGA screen with a treo like keyboard so a slider seems to be the trade-off
- screen resolution preferably 640 x 480 (QVGA requires too much scrolling -- getting to VGA and HSDPA might make web browsing on the go actually pleasant)
- OS: Windows or Linux
- biometric sign-on (so I don't have to type in my password all the time)
- all-day battery with the GPS -- this is possibly the hardest requirement to satisfy as currently you don't get more than 4 hours out of a phone using the GPS all the time

Posted by AAMP on 04.09.06 - 17:07:01

Although I'm unlikely to go back to an SE P9xx series phone (one handed use was impossible even with a scroll wheel), I'm surprised that the P990 hasn't been included in your list of possibilities. It's the first one I thought of when you mentioned QVGA and a QWERTY keyboard, and UIQ 3 is supposed to be better at one handed operation. Although it has a scoll wheel and some kind of front button thing (something I wish they'd put on the main body of the phone).

What d'ya think??

Posted by AAMP on 04.09.06 - 17:18:18

Just checked the specs:

http://www.sonyericsson.com/spg.jsp?cc= … ;pid=10336

It seems to include all of your requirements except:

Windows Mobile
EDGE

...althought it does have UMTS (does your operator support UMTS - sorry, I'm in the UK).

The other thing is that it's Tri-Band but they'll probably release a USA version sometime....

Posted by AAMP on 04.09.06 - 17:45:50

I should be working...


scarecrow and bnycastro, I think you're looking for the HTC TyTN:

http://www.europe.htc.com/products/htctytn.html

and another look:

http://www.t-mobile.co.uk/Dispatcher?pa … es_details

Posted by bnycastro on 04.09.06 - 18:31:39

True, the Hermes [HTC TyTn in EU, dopod 838pro for ASIA] is close, I might get 1 but not yet... I hear there are still some problems with it [HW and ROM related] maybe I'll wait a few more months until they fix up the problems big_smile I really am hoping that they come out with a successor to the Universal though.

Posted by Alfredo Padilla on 04.09.06 - 20:15:32

To those that were suggesting the p990 there are a couple of problems with it:
1 Tri-band means bad reception in the us
2 After reading quite a few reviews i'm very wary of the lack of hardware keys

Posted by buz on 11.09.06 - 16:30:49

The ubiquio 501 (to be found at Expansys.com) seems like a perfect match. It would be for me, except that I'd REALLY rather get S60.3. I can't stand WM5.

Posted by bnycastro on 12.09.06 - 03:56:47

buz the Nokia E61 has qwerty 3g and wifi and S60 3rd Ed, no touch screen though. Dunno if it will be released in the US though I heard they were taking out wifi and calling it an E62...  roll probably due to provider pressure.

Posted by troll on 12.09.06 - 20:05:55

Sounds like Samsung's SGH-i600

Posted by John Nguyen on 13.09.06 - 17:08:38

For me, a must have device should include the followings,
- QVGA touchscreen
- WM5
- Quadband GSM with EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA
- WiFi 802.11b&g
- GPS (sirf III)
- 400Mhz CPU at least
- At least 64MB of RAM and >= 128MB of ROM
- SD or at least miniSD slot
- >= 2MP Camera
- Bluetooth 2.0
- USB interface
-

Posted by Bill on 14.09.06 - 15:15:18

Allow me to refer to a previous unwired article for a very close example of my perfect phone and perhaps yours as well.

http://www.theunwired.net/?itemid=3274& … 20#article

http://www.theunwired.net/media/news/UBiQUiO_501_small.jpg

Only thing it seems to be missing is EDGE.  Is there anything else that anyone notices besides its possible poor processor?

Posted by buz on 14.09.06 - 16:49:28

Well someone would have to test the keyboard of the Ubiquio when it finally ships. The price is very nice, for one.

As for the E61: it's big, it has no cam and no touchscreen... Other than that, it's a damn good phone.

Posted by Jonas on 15.09.06 - 08:58:59

Great article! About the HTC Excalibur - if you need Excel editing, isn't the WinMobile Smartphone Edition limited to reading Excel-files? I'm seriously considering that phone, but only 1.3mpix camera and no Excel editing makes me hesitate. But it's also kind'a cheap compared to WinMobile PDA Edition-phones. The E61 does allow Excel-editing, but it is not that user friendly as one may want.

Posted by Jonas on 15.09.06 - 09:02:05

The E61 again - I didnt mean that the phone overall wasnt user friendly, it probably is - I love Nokia UI-technology. I was thinking of the Excel-editing function which I read about and seems to require many keystokes to achieve simple tasks.

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