Over the years I have been a heavy user of small electronic devices. I started with Sony Walkman in different versions. Later I switched to computer devices. That is mostly “small” gadgets often called organizers or smart-phones. It started with me testing some development utilities for Palm Pilot Professional and Palm OS devices back in 97. I had recently started working and could not afford a Palm Pilot myself, but I started testing them and helped configure my colleagues’ devices. I guess you could call it a bit masochistic, a budding gadget-holic without gadgets, just begging to play with the gadgets of my friends and colleagues.
So I got myself a Palm V and later a Palm IIIc back in the late 90’s early 2k’s. Later I switched to a Palm Vx and then Sony Clié. I still think of that little Clié as one of the best devices ever made and used it for several years, it had Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth and everything worked pretty OK. I used to run TomTom Navigator for Palm on it using Bluetooth to a TomTom GPS receiver. It was my little brain, pet and best friend.
In addition to this little infatuation with organizers I also was heavily into mobile phones. Mostly I used different Nokia models. Those models worth mentioning are the Nokia 5110, and later 7110, before I switched to the 6310i. I particularly liked the 6310i. It worked excellently. To get most out of my Palm devices I used to connect them to the internet through my mobile phones, using cables, or later Bluetooth, and thus syncing email and calendar through the network. Okay… there were a few things you had to do on your computer in order for that to work, and there was that little issue with firewalls. But who cares, I got it to work with only a few configurations, and tricks, and hacks applications, and other sneaky smart ideas.
I admit that in parallel with this I also invested in different mp3 players. First I had an Expanium MP3 CD player from Phillips, I am pretty sure I got that sometime in 97. I was a user of Archos MP3 players – the AV340. The player was a bit bulky, but with an enormous amount of features. Hey, how many other MP3-players do you know that you can connect to your TV-decoder and record TV-shows? I am not going to tell you the number of cables I normally am carrying around. Let’s just say that if you need a charger I probably have one nearby, or maybe two. Who am I kidding, how many do you need?
In 2006 I attempted to reduce the number of devices I always carried around and decided to gather them all into one device. I decided to buy a Smartphone. I invested in a Nokia N80, but what happened was that I still used both the Sony Clié and the N80. By connecting the Sony to my Nokia via Bluetooth I had myself a nifty little setup with online email and web-surfing. The calendar and overall GUI was so much better on the Palm OS than on the Nokia. The media player part of the mobile phone was even worse though so I continued to use other MP3-players. The Archos became too bulky in the long run so I switched totally strategy regarding MP3-players and switched to a Creative Zen Nano. Not a MP3-player with a large capacity, but it included 1 GB storage and FM-radio, all delivered in a very little package. It wasn’t until Apple released iPod touch I finally jumped on the iPod bandwagon.
For years I had been walking around with 3 devices. I had hoped to get rid of my Sony Clié when I switched to Nokia N80, but that didn’t work. So I made another attempt in 2008. I switched to Windows mobile and got myself a HTC Cruise and later HTC Diamond. Finally I was one device down. The calendar in the windows mobile was not perfect, but it worked. It could synchronize itself automatically with Exchange, and email, calendar and contacts were synchronized at all times. But what do you know, as long as I had access to Wi-Fi, so was my iPod touch. It had all the features of a smartphone except the possibility to call or use mobile networks. The lock-in with iTunes is a pain in the *** sometimes, but it works. Here I had a device that were simple to use and worked pretty much as easy as my Palm devices did. The biggest issue with Windows Mobile is not its features, Microsoft have an endless list of features. No the biggest issue with Windows Mobile is its slow speed and how annoying it can be to use. It sometimes feels like you have a brick that you want to perform a little bricking operation on. I am sorry to say that the Flow GUI from HTC does not make it that much better. It might flow better when you throw it, but it does not flow particularly while using the phone.
Here is an example: My employer recommends us to switch on the password protection included in the mobile phone. This is a feature that locks the phone after some inactivity. Now, let’s say you want to use a HTC Diamond to call a Taxi. In Oslo you are now supposed to press a lot of numbers on your phone in order for you to feel that you are not waiting as long as you really are. These numbers should be pretty easy to click on a phone, right? Not when you are talking HTC Diamond. You see while you wait to be connected to the automatic voice the password protection has suddenly activated. So when you have to select number 1-9 in the Taxi menu you first have to punch the password. Why it doesn’t understand that you are using the phone I have no idea. Now when you pull out the stylus and have punched your pin, Windows Mobile has decided that since you used your stylus during a phone-call you want to use the notepad feature of the phone. So you have to close that. Oh right. Now you have to activate the keyboard. Yeeees right again. That is that small little button on the bottom of the screen. Now you can click the number, but guess what, the automatic voice has kept on talking while you panicky have tried to navigate to the correct feature on your mobile and you are in a new menu and since you have not been listening to the voice in the phone lately you have no idea where in the menu you are, what choices you have or how to get back to the first menu. My phone has been very close to flowing very far in situations like that.
Enter the iPhone 3GS. The summer 2009 Apple releases the new iPhone 3GS, and I decided that maybe I could finally live with only one device.
One device to rule them all,
One device to find them,
One device to bring them all and in the brightness bind them.
(Freely adapted from the Lord of the Rings, by Tolkien)
So far it looks good, now if I only could get some of the old calendar features from my Palm devices: A 5 or 7 day week view, week number display and the possibility to set privacy status on calendar entries….