Wednesday, July 4, 2007

My Life Changing Device

I've been hearing people talking about the iPhone in excessively glowing terms for quite long enough now. I've even heard people in the cube next to me talk about how its world-changing, or life-changing. Remains to be seen, but I doubt it. For starters, yes I have played with one. Its a good PDA (needs software and a non-terrible network). By a long shot the best mobile browser ever. And its got some other neat interface stuff, seems well designed and built as all Apple products are now and the input is as good as can be expected (I wear gloves in the winter... not a lover of finger-only inputs). Anyway, its simply not gonna be anything like a life-changing device for me at least. Why is simple, I never had PDA, smartphone, even iPod. I used a spiral-bound datebook for 2 years in high school, but never really got into it. What I love is the laptop form factor. For the past few years of rejecting smartphones I have justified it as my need (or love) of graphics, cause that's what I do for a living. But maybe there's something else. I've always preferred this form factor. By my second year of college, I was using this pseudo laptop like thing for notes, schedules, etc. Laser PC3 That died, and there was a gap, but for the last ten years or so I have carried a laptop with me practically everywhere. I can remotely look up pretty much any file, record my grandfather's WW2 reminisces, download listen to my entire music library, watch movies, output photos to TV, plug in an aircard and do internety things while on road trips, blog, or really whatever. Carrying around a computer all the time exposes them to damage, though. I coddle, but sometimes I break things when I fall or they get run over by a car. So the life changing device to me? A ruggedized laptop. This is a GoBook III, mine is even older than this, plus dirty and scratched Why? Its a real appliance. Like everything else (non-electronic) I carry around, or used to, its only marginally concerned with abuse. It gets scratched when I drag it across the street, but it still works fine. I don't even have a case. It's just got a sling for when I need to carry it more than across the room. Oh, and its a touchscreen. Yes, I've tried tablets. Too fragile, and just weird. Too much effort to be tablets if you know what I mean. Someday a ruggedized laptop might come out that's just perfect, though. This isn't the final state, I hate windows so its not my primary, and its too heavy, and its only got a 6x8 screen. What I hope for is not just that I can keep buying old, used ruggedized laptops, but that every electronic device (or at least most) are built to last. And in this, the iPhone may be a harbinger of something good. Apple's been slow on making their laptops really solid (though they are trending correctly lately) but the iPod series is almost the definition of rugged. People carry those around a lot, and they stand up to a lot more abuse than most phones or other devices I know. The wife's iPod (I don't have one, but I am exposed to them) is a 2G model, and runs like the day it came out of the box. I hope this degree of longevitity and ruggedness is where electronics are trending.

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