Ditching Smartphones?

December 17, 2004

The Bluetooth Weblog is wondering how many of us agree that overly smart phones have negligable value.

Slate’s Paul Boutin says that instead of shelling out over $600 for a Treo smartphone, why not just get a cheap cellphone like the Nokia 6600? His reasoning is that how many of the Treo’s “wonders” will you really use, such as the QWERTY keyboard and fast wireless connection? Plus, Boutin says you can add a number of features to the Nokia without having to spend a bundle of money to do it.

What I want (at the moment) in a phone is pretty simple: let me get rid of carrying both a phone and a PDA, and use it in a pinch for wireless connectivity from my notebook.

From a functional standpoint, this means I want:

  • GPRS and something faster (EDGE, whatever), available both on the device and from my notebook via Bluetooth.
  • Functional mail reader, with at least a prayer of being able to reply (even if it’s hunting and pecking an on-screen keyboard with a stylus.)
  • A web browser that’s at least marginally usable in a pinch.
  • 802.11 (g, preferably, so I don’t slow everything else down) support for the above two items, that can be used to speed things up if it’s available.
  • A screen big enough (in both width and resolution) to make reading e-books comfortable.
  • A version of Mobipocket Reader.
  • Wireless iSync to my address book and calendar (bluetooth or wi-fi).

Beyond that, I could care less whether it’s Palm, Windows Mobile/Phone, Series 60, or something else entirely.

I want one device that provides me with phone service, mail service, and a good e-book reader (the latter two being 99% of what I do with a PDA, and I use both a lot) for when it’s the only device I’m carrying, and I want it to be able to get at least usable connectivity for my notebook I’m carrying that.

My old 3650 isn’t -that- far off.  Add Edge/EvDO/3G whatever support and a bigger screen, and I could get by with it for a good long while.  It has scads of battery life, gets good reception where most other people’s phones crap out, and syncs via iSync.  Unfortunately, reading mail or e-books on it is a line-at-a-time affair, and sound quality is mediocre.

Ultimately, a phone could replace my iPod too, and I’d be happy.  Perhaps the new Apple / Motorola deal may eventually do that, but it’ll be awhile before we know.

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One Response to “Ditching Smartphones?”

  1. Mark Zabala on December 22nd, 2004 2:23 pm

    I have a Treo 600 and I’m LOVING IT.  Let me tell you, having a Palm-based cell/PDA has completely eliminated my need to get a seperate MP3 player, e-book reader, organizer, whatever…

    The fact is, there are so many apps available for palm that are well suited to just about any need.  Bored?  Why not play old Nintendo games on the NesEM emulator?  How about the ability to sync up your contacts, notes, and calendar perfectly with Outlook?  You can even access all that info over theweb with Yahoo using teir free Intellesync software.

    It sounds ridiculous, but it is really hard to know just how functional a smartphone like the Treo can be until you actually have one.

    And yes, you do end up using the web browser a lot more than you think for things like Mapquest.

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