Chasing the perfect smartphone

Column published on Saturday January 5th 2008 in The Guardian
“Dork Talk” – The Guardian headline

Chasing the perfect smartphone is a frustrating game. This one is perfect but it doesn’t have Wi-Fi, that one would be ideal if only it had GPS. The other is OK but isn’t 3G. Aha, this is it! Oh bother, it can’t do video calls. And so on. Not that I actually need all those features, it’s just that for us Knights of the smartphone Grail the terms of the quest demand the One Device That Has It All.

And here comes the high-end Glofiish X800 Pocket PC running Windows for mobiles (professional). It really does seem to be as loaded as anything out there. Now, I have to say I’m not a fan of Windows for mobiles – all those maddeningly small menus, submenus and fiddly nested commands torment me almost beyond endurance, as do the horrors of trying to synchronise with anything other than a PC. Were it not for Missing Sync’s suite of programs that allow powerful and controllable syncing between Macs and mobile operating systems, I’d be in a home by now. For all that, I’ve lived for weeks using HTC and Palm devices that run WM5 and WM6, and I happily concede that Microsoft’s cut-down OS does have strengths.

Glofiish is made by E-Ten and you can colour me impressed. It is true 3.5G. That’s nothing to do with gigabyte memory, by the way, but indicates “third and a half generation” capability. In short, it obtains the highest data transfer speeds possible in mobile telephony. It will first try to pick up HSDPA or UMTS signals from the network, then EDGE, then GPRS and finally good old data-free GMS. Major population centres will allow it to gallop like a thoroughbred through its full 3.5G paces, but if you live in the country, you’ll be lucky to get much more than the donkey speeds of GPRS.

Glofiish has both a front and rear camera, allowing you to make face-to-face video calls. The main camera has autofocus, which I’ve not seen on a comparable device; at 2MP, it is not going to deliver staggering images, but the output is satisfactory. The video footage was hardly broadcast quality, but again adequate. It is armed with a bright and crisp VGA display, Bluetooth 2.0, WiFi, FM Radio and GPS. Input is by stylus to soft keyboard, handwriting recognition or numeric dial-pad, although a model with a slide-out keyboard has just been announced.

Irritatingly, despite having a Sirf Star GPS receiver built in, no SatNav mapping software is included, so the user is forced to download and buy an application, or try the free Google Maps for Mobiles. Glofiish says satellite information can be automatically incorporated into an SMS text: “This could be helpful,” says the manual, “in preventing kidnapping, reporting disastrous situations, calling for help in emergencies or locating an individual.” Wow.

The device is attractively designed with delightful red accents on the lenses; it is pleasant to hold, to heft and, for the most part, to operate. Windows for mobiles’ advantage lies in the availability of so many functions, the powerful customisable options and the wealth of downloadable software. This also creates the disadvantage of complexity, endless non-intuitive menus and option screens, and a life of picking your way by stylus through an often messy and confusing environment.

For those who want it all, then, the Glofiish X800 can compete with the HTC Tytn II and the other big players. I give it a big tick.

Its processor is made by Samsung, who also makes phones, of course. I heartily recommend its fatuously named SGH-G800 for anyone after a top-notch phone with an emphasis on photography. Balanced and well-finished, it boasts a 5MP camera with Xenon flash and 3X optical zoom, no GPS or WiFi, but all the usual accoutrements such as 3G, front camera for video calling, Bluetooth 2.0, WAP 2.0, FM radio, music players, image editing software and so on. It was rumoured that it would have an OLED display, but they’ve settled for traditional LCD. It has a Samsung Fun Club splashscreen that would make anyone wince with embarrassment and is stupidly at odds with the sophisticatedly simple and stylish hardware design of this high-quality 3G slider phone. Even so, it’s a worthy rival to the Nokia N95.

© Stephen Fry 2008

This blog was posted in Guardian column

38 comments on “Chasing the perfect smartphone”

  1. jillydoc says:

    Dear Stephen,

    Happy New Year! I so enjoy your blogs, but last month I got my hands on an iPhone and I’m sooo happy with it I’m not interested in anything else, save the next version which is rumored to be coming out sometime this year. It’s everything you said and more. On new year’s day I was hiking above Beachwood Canyon near Griffith Park and there was the most incredible sunset. I took about 50 photos and they came out amazingly well, as good as my Canon digital camera takes. I would post one for you if I knew how. Gorgeous. In any case, thanks so much for your blogs. I just wanted to let you know that it was yours that spurred me on to try the iPhone and I’ve never been happier.

    Warmest regards,

    Jillian

  2. robertas says:

    Damn and blast Mr. Fry, if this fishy thing made coffee as well I might be tempted :) Now that would be my ultimate smartphone…

  3. Flookwit says:

    Much as I like the idea of owning a smartphone, my only use comes when the British Telecom Man Cometh.

    That is possibly as often as I put Flanders and Swann Gas on.

    That is approximately twice a year when the local BT substation is poked by our inspired operators, another wire from the spaghetti junction box is pulled and cut and suddenly I have no WiFi, no ‘phone, no broadband, no Internet and I start going into Internet Addiction withdrawal.

    Happy New Year. Where can I find a Pay As You Go Smart Phone with WiFi, 3G in Donkey Fields, decent OS and doesn’t cost a year of my salary?

  4. bnt says:

    Hi – I find myself in a similar situation to you, using a Windows Mobile smartphone (HTC S620) on a non-Windows operating system (Linux). There are a couple of tools I discovered that let me sync my phone to the PC quite easily, and for free.
    1) FinchSync allows synchronising of the phone’s contacts and appointment with Mozilla software: Thunderbird for contacts, and Sunbird (or the Lightning add-on for Thunderbird) for appointments. It takes a little configuration, but once that’s done you can sync the two over any network, including wireless. I mention this because Missing Sync is Mac only, while the computer side of FinchSync is written in Java i.e. cross-platform.
    2) WM5Storage: this runs on the phone only, and turns one of its storage devices in to a standard USB Storage device. It’s best used with an added memory card, because when it’s activated, the selected device is not available to the phone. (Not a good idea to select the phone’s internal memory, then.) Then you connect with the cable, and use standard software and commands to put files on – anything that works with a USB key. (If you add MP3 files, you need to tell WMP on the phone to update its library after you disconnect.)
    Well, it works for me… 8)

  5. hillslug says:

    Excellent.

    “Glofiish has both a front and rear camera…”

    So, it has a bottom camera, then?

  6. Useful review – thanks Stephen. How have you found battery life. I have been trialling the Palm Treo 500v Windows Mobile device and the battery life is pants in comparison to my Blackberry. Performance is also found wanting.

  7. Happy New Year! sounds like an amazing product, if a little on the complex side =/

  8. Righthojeeves says:

    Sounds excellent, what phone does Stephen suggest that stay charged the longest? I have 2 Verison phones, one will stay charged all day and into the next sometimes but the other one, will only stay charged 1/2 a day it seems even though both get plugged in at night. Is the latter one’s battery going or what? What phone is the best for a reasonable pocketbook ( not tons of cash but some)

  9. evert says:

    May I also suggest the Nokia N82 to you? It has all the good features of the N95, and more!
    (better camera, and way better battery life)

  10. mattdalyuk says:

    Hi Stephen

    As an ex long termer on the Apple campus i have been really pushed towards an iPhone for my wifes business that i have now joined. I waited all night to watch the launch of the iPhone and was privileged enough to try one months before they arrived in the UK.

    I too have been seeking the Smartphone holy grail and finally i have the answer (for me anyway) in the shape of an EEE PC from Asus.

    It gives me the ability to communicate anywhere with my Blue Tooth dongle and unlimited BB on my three phone whilst not touching any windows at all.

    I am going to attempt the OS X hack this week after a memory upgrade so fingers crossed.

    TTFN

    Matt

  11. just john says:

    Happy New Year, Mr. Fry!

    I’m still unsure whether “Glofiish” is a real product, or just a very clever set of in-jokes for cellphone fans.

    But I have to say the notion of “Generation 3.5″ sounds like some incest has been going on, perhaps between members of Generation 1 and 2. This should be stopped.

  12. zfiledh says:

    I’m presently happy with my Nokia 6600, but in the event I need to replace it (which may be soon ;) and have the cash to replace it, I might consider this GloFish. However, my main problem would be its availability in my country.

    But–as robertas mentioned above–if it CAN make a good enough cup of coffee… ;)

    Happy New Year, sir!

  13. Drood says:

    So this site went from being a platform for one of the finest minds in Britain to entertain us to a bloody Grauniad mirror site.:(

  14. robertas says:

    zfiledh I agree if that was the case I would be willing to make that investment :)

    Drood I do miss the blessays as well and I do hope we will be treated to a new one any day now (Mr. Fry honestly it would be about time, go on chop chop) but between no blessays and no columns and no blessays and a column I do pick latter.

    The latest installment of Stephen Fry Appreciation Monday is up and the focus is on V for Vendetta… remember, remember the 5th of November… goodness I cannot get that line out of my head tsss

    http://www.couchslobs.com/2008/01/07/stephen-fry-appreciation-monday-v-for-vendetta/

  15. En_croute says:

    I looked at the Glofiish M700 while waiting for the MDA Vario III (TYTN 2) to arrive in the UK.

    On the whole, I’m glad I did waited, my colleague didn’t, and he prefers the look and software included with the T-Mobile TyTn 2. However I did like the look of the Vodafone version (v1615), which is a graphite metal skin and looks sleek.

    My wait for the TyTn 2 was based around the fact it looks like a device that meets all my needs – able to handle and sync 1500+ contacts, a proper outlook calendar and tasks function, and an platform that is teeming with clever developers, churning out utilities to meet every whim.

    I could skin my WM6 phone to look and operate like an iPhone, but it’s not a iPhone, so that would be truly sad – although I might borrow a couple of the nicer looking icons………

    The only two problems are that just as the hardware has increased power and memory, does the OS – so it’s no quicker that the original Vario on WM5 (Stolen from my belt clip), but it’s considerably better than the Symbian based Nokia E70 which was painfully slow, and nearly went out of several high placed windows.

    Secondly it still uses a poor version of Pocket Internet Explorer. Opera/Opera mini is better, but it’s no Safari. However it’s now able to play YouTube and download videos, so that an improvement on the “out of the box experience”. With 8GB microSDHC Card now available, storage is limitless (although these cards are so small, easily losable!)

    I have played and configured an iPhone for a friend, and was, as usual, impressed by the immaculate engineering, both hardware and software wise, of Apple’s new product. I can understand why Steve Jobs wants to keep it closed, the more software running will slow it down, and make it look less reliable. I truly love the Auto-Thumbnail production of multiple picture folders – truly stunning and unrepeated (as yet) on a PC platform

    As iTunes can’t be installed at work, the iPhone was a no-go from the start, and the inability to send pictures and videos to other phones (without email) will be a killer for the kids, but then they probably shouldn’t have something so good looking.

    For me the TyTn 2 / Vario III / v1615 is the ideal phone right now. With TomTom 6 (bought for the original Vario I) and software add-ons to suit my work, this just need a Pocket PC version of Safari and it would be perfect!

  16. En_croute says:

    Stephen

    Not sure if this of any use, but here goes – I looked at the Glofiish M700 while waiting for the MDA Vario III (TYTN 2) to arrive in the UK. They seem to offer a bit more that HTC in terms of hardware (FM Radio etc), but less software, as they are not carrier based.

    However I do like the look of the Vodafone version of the TyTn 2, the snappily named v1615, which has a graphite metal skin and looks very sleek.

    My wait for the TyTn 2 was based around the fact it looked like a device that meets all my needs – able to handle and sync 1500+ contacts, a proper outlook calendar and tasks function, and an platform that is teeming with clever developers, churning out utilities to meet every whim.

    Of course, I could skin my WM6 phone to look and operate like an iPhone, but it’s not a iPhone, so that would be truly sad – although I might borrow a couple of the nicer looking icons………

    The only two problems are that just as the hardware has increased power and memory, does the OS – so it’s no quicker that the original Vario on WM5 (Stolen from my belt clip), but it’s considerably better than the Symbian based Nokia E70 which was painfully slow, and nearly went out of several high placed windows.

    The second problem is it still uses Pocket Internet Explorer, which is simply poor.. Opera 6 and the Java based Opera mini is better, but it’s no Safari. However it’s now able to play YouTube and download videos, so that an improvement on the “out of the box experience”. With 8GB microSDHC Card now available, (and 16gb cards announced today at CES) storage is limitless (although these cards are so small, easily losable!)

    I have played and configured an iPhone for a friend, and was, as usual, impressed by the immaculate engineering, both hardware and software wise, of Apple’s new product. I can understand why Steve Jobs wants to keep it a closed system, the more software running will slow it down, and make it look less reliable. I truly love the Auto-Thumbnail production of multiple picture folders – truly stunning and unrepeated (as yet) on a PC platform. (yes I know there is several thumbnail production software options, but none as effortless as iTunes – Damm you Jobs)

    As iTunes can’t be installed at work, the iPhone was a no-go from the start, and the inability to send pictures and videos to other phones (without email) will be a killer for the kids, but then they probably shouldn’t have something so good looking.

    For me the TyTn 2 / Vario III / v1615 is the ideal phone right now. With TomTom 6 (bought for the original Vario I) and software add-ons like the excellent TCPMP and “Today Agenda” to suit my work, this just needs a Pocket PC version of Safari and it would be truly perfect!

    En_Croute
    London N16

  17. En_croute says:

    Stephen

    Not sure if this of any use, but here goes – I looked at the Glofiish M700 while waiting for the MDA Vario III (TYTN 2) to arrive in the UK. They seem to offer a bit more that HTC in terms of hardware (FM Radio etc), but less software, as they are not carrier based.

    However I do like the look of the Vodafone version of the TyTn 2, the snappily named v1615, which has a graphite metal skin and looks very sleek.

    My wait for the TyTn 2 was based around the fact it looked like a device that meets all my needs – able to handle and sync 1500+ contacts, a proper outlook calendar and tasks function, and an platform that is teeming with clever developers, churning out utilities to meet every whim.

    Of course, I could skin my WM6 phone to look and operate like an iPhone, but it’s not a iPhone, so that would be truly sad – although I might borrow a couple of the nicer looking icons………

    The only two problems are that just as the hardware has increased power and memory, does the OS – so it’s no quicker that the original Vario on WM5 (Stolen from my belt clip), but it’s considerably better than the Symbian based Nokia E70 which was painfully slow, and nearly went out of several high placed windows.

    The second problem is it still uses Pocket Internet Explorer, which is simply poor.. Opera 6 and the Java based Opera mini is better, but it’s no Safari. However it’s now able to play YouTube and download videos, so that an improvement on the “out of the box experience”. With 8GB microSDHC Card now available, (and 16gb cards announced today at CES) storage is limitless (although these cards are so small, easily losable!)

    I have played and configured an iPhone for a friend, and was, as usual, impressed by the immaculate engineering, both hardware and software wise, of Apple’s new product. I can understand why Steve Jobs wants to keep it a closed system, the more software running will slow it down, and make it look less reliable. I truly love the Auto-Thumbnail production of multiple picture folders – truly stunning and unrepeated (as yet) on a PC platform. (yes I know there is several thumbnail production software options, but none as effortless as iTunes – Damm you Jobs)

    As iTunes can’t be installed at work, the iPhone was a no-go from the start, and the inability to send pictures and videos to other phones (without email) will be a killer for the kids, but then they probably shouldn’t have something so good looking.

    For me the TyTn 2 / Vario III / v1615 is the ideal phone right now. With TomTom 6 (bought for the original Vario I) and software add-ons like the excellent TCPMP and “Today Agenda” to suit my work, this just needs a Pocket PC version of Safari and it would be truly perfect!

  18. zfiledh says:

    I miss the blessays too, but I’m a patient woman. Besides, it’s Mr. Fry’s blog, so let him write whatever the hell he wants. And I like the techie posts, so there.

  19. Peeeeeeet says:

    Meanwhile, I was amused to see in the “news” that you have LASHED OUT at the way straight actors are praised for non-heterogeneous snogging. I certain hope that you were frothing at the mouth, unable to contain yourself, lunging into a crowd of unsuspecting gaykiss praisers, saying, “come on, who wants some? I’m handy!” Anything less would be DISAPPOINTING.

  20. PJWilkinson says:

    I’ve had the iphone for over a month now and must admit it’s probably the best smartphone I have ever had – purely because it syncs to my calendar events and contacts as easily as my ipod does to the music.

    Edge works fine for doing the small about of browsing on the device and while 3G would be nice, it really is a unnecessary battery drain, that in my opinion, is really a waste of time.

  21. Flookwit says:

    Dear Mr Fry, Stephen. Forgive this somewhat contumely comment, it is not written with any degree of malice aforethought. Far from it. But, I am another lover of a Fry up in the form of blog, blessay or the lengthy blisquisitions that entertained many a soul before the Gadget Guardian Columns.

    Most of your fans realise how incredibly busy you are and what high standards you set yourself. Thus a regular blog posting that is the norm for most of the popular blogs on the Web, given your schedule and mental set, would be nigh on impossible. Given a choice between quality and quantity, I would choose quality and irregularity any day. Since you are so very special ( and much loved….oh, please, please don’t brush me off with the sycophophancy word….my sentiments are genuine enough) I am merely hoping that you might find some time to offer us a shorter, perhaps installment type version of your lengthy, but gorgeous blisquisitions.

    I don’t know if you read your readers’ comments here, and after this weeks column I am wondering whether you have become exhausted….just little things that made me wonder.

    If you do read the comments, then a final word or two. I read that you feel irritated by producers not casting you in heterosexual roles and taking advantage of your openly gay sexuality. You responded, if the BBC online news is correct, by replying that you would happily kiss a woman. Or a frog. I believe I would be correct in saying that there are huge numbers of women out here who would really love to reciprocate; dear doG it would give them orgasms for years!! As for frogs, well I am quite a nice frog, if you ever wanted to kiss me.

    Affectionately, and don’t work too hard,

    FWx

  22. Flookwit says:

    Oh, and just in case I need to spell my last paragraph out, what I meant was that since many women would happily kiss you, I believe that producers are quite wrong if they think that the public would be unable to see you as a heterosexual male in a role.

    Great Heavens! Is that not the mark of a good actor?? Are you not a good actor?

    If they deny you the part of a heterosexual male (and I would love to see you acting more parts such as those) do you counter that with a reply about them doubting your acting ability?

    I am sorry, I apologise that I have hijacked your Gadget column to write (probably) inane comments regarding other aspects of your blog and life, but it is time those producers woke up.

  23. robertas says:

    Oh Lord now this is the subject I am quite touchy about… dont get me wrong, since I am heterosexual I can only talk about my perspective (I do love my Kuhn :)… but I have been on the receiving end of many coming-outs and I did get a glimpse on how difficult it was for my friends to actually stuttered out the words I am gay… at one particular instant I burst into tears because my friend was being so dramatic I thought he was about to say he was terminally ill… drama queen :)

    Really as far I am concerned it makes no difference to me, gay or lesbian I know both and I love them equally because they are good people not because what their preference might be…

    I do think our lovely Mr. Fry is right when he says something along the lines it would be mean not to share his experience… if it helps just one person not to feel like an outsider or a whatever term you want to use, I think it is a good thing…

    But is he being typecast? When I look back and think about it, yes possibly…to me it seems a case of (no pun intended) you are buggered if you do come out and you are buggered if you do not especially in his particular profession…
    That was why I was so annoyed by Wilde, sure to have principles, to suffer and believe in love are all noble things… but all I could think about was what a fucking waste, this brilliant man rotting away in jail, for what?

    Oh sorry for the verbal diarrhea, as I said touchy subject for me… my point is I’d love to see Mr. Fry get a great beefy role and some female interest… I’m certain he would pull it off… and he can always damn and blast the producers to hell :)
    And I’m not a frog does that mean I cannot volunteer for a snog? tsssssss damn and blast thats just discrimination :)

  24. fangedwolf says:

    First I would like to wish you a Happy New Year Stephen. I hope it brings you all you hope for.

    I would like to then reply to a comment made by Drood. I agree that I do very much enjoy reading the blessays, and I do miss them. I am not a tech expert and all the jargon, numbers and letters that make up all the new technology just leave me feeling more than a little baffled no matter how expertly they are described.

    However I do understand that Stephen is extremely busy at the moment with his trip to America, not to mention all the things around the festive season that generally have all of us rushing for one reason or another. I like the fact he has allowed us to view his articles on here, even if they are on subjects I am not too familiar with or knowlegable about. That he has made time to regularly post these is a bonus, not a detriment in my opinion, and does not necissarilly merit a slating.

    I am sure that once Stephen has more time he will dedicate a little of it to writing more on other subjects in his more personal blessays. Until then I shall try to learn a little more about gadgets, electric toothbrushes and my web browsers. :)

  25. kathmuse says:

    This makes me want to go out and buy a new toothbrush…really, you should get endorsement deals out of some of the things you say :)

    I wonder, have you ever gone to CES or MacWorld? My husband is at CES now for work and I keep thinking how much fun it would be to see all of the new gadgets on parade.

  26. Chris Cooper says:

    Stephen, you and at least some of your readers may like to know that a new wiki has been created to gather together the Web’s wisdom on Psion computers. A wiki, as any fule kno, is a Website that can be easily edited by authorized users. PsionWiki is located at http://psionwiki.wikidot.com

    Anyone can browse PsionWiki. But to edit pages, you will first need to register with WikiDot (which is quick and free) by following the link from http://psionwiki.wikidot.com. Then you will need to register with PsionWiki itself, using the password Psionist

    This blog is already linked to from the wiki, under the heading “People and their Psions”. I hope you and others reading this will look in from to time to chuck in any bit of knowledge, wisdom or reminiscence that occurs to you.

  27. albertcampion says:

    I really like the idea of the front and rear camera! Imagine, now you can take pictures of yourself taking pictures of let’s say a beautiful sunset (see I-phone post above) and you can see your own face contemplating it! Plus, you don’t have to stretch out your arm any more for one of these absurd (but very funny) self-portraits… ;)

  28. Chris Cooper says:

    Stephen, I know you want to keep the memory of Psions alive even in this age of smartphones. I think you’d like PsionWiki, now opened at http://psionwiki.wikidot.com/ and I’m sure you’ve got plenty to contribute to it.

  29. Rasika says:

    Hi Stephen,

    I am currently watching Jeeves and Wooster. I already had read P.G.Wodehouse… I love him. I loved the TV Series too. When I read his books I had my own imagination of Bertie and Jeeves… Jeeves is the most mysterious character. I am planning to read the books again as now I can imagine you in the role of Jeeves… You suit the character so well and also have portrayed it really well. The funny part is being born and brought up in India I imagined indian houses while reading books :)… Now I know how it looks. I wonder why they stopped after season 4… The not so good part about the series is that there are no subtitles recorded for it, so it becomes a little difficult to understand the british accent.

    Thanks for reading,
    Rasika

  30. Rasika, how charming. Jeeves at the Taj Mahal, Wooster at the Lal Quila. I am Canadian, so that would be like tea at 4 in the log cabin in the woods by the lake. Kind of like doing Shakespeare in 1930′s gangster clothes. I love it!!

  31. Flookwit says:

    Any thoughts about Amazon.com’s e-book reader, Kindle, that uses Whispernet (claiming to be faster than WiFi)?

    US biased, (can download New York Times bestseller list books, rather than UK preferences; Newsprint – not that you’d want to read it – is from a selection of Irish, French, German and US) and sold through Amazon.com.

    Those who have one seem to love it (maybe because it cost them so much); those who slate it appear to be the lovelies who poked and prodded, but kept their wallet safely tucked away near cheeks or chest.

    It’s a gadget/gizmo, so wondered if you had played with it and kept it, or played with it and dropped it into the nearest Atlantic or Pacific aquarium again.

  32. ginge says:

    I wonder if this will be the ultimate smartphone? Due out in the next month (if you believe i-mate!)

    http://www.imate.com/product.aspx?product=ultimate9502

    Certainly appears to be so on paper. VGA screen, decent amount of ROM/RAM, slide out qwerty, GPS, 3.5G, wifi etc etc…

    Lets just hope they have proper video drivers for it, unlike HTC’s effort with the Tytn II!!

  33. Oh dear. Technobabble. HTC, WM5, WM6, 3.5G, HSDPA, UMTS, EDGE, GPRS, GMS, 2MP, VGA, WiFi, GPS, SMS, HTC Tytn II, SGH-G800, 5MP, 3G, WAP 2.0, OLED, LCD? Would it be inappropriate of me to ask WTF?

    Perhaps it’s just me but isn’t this the problem with mobile technology? Until we have a company like Nintendo at work within the mobile phone industry, ridding us of this acronymitus, the technology will remain the stuff of geeks. The best technologies are transparent to the user. The is far from the case with the majority of mobile phones out there where one thumb is not enough to get through a few hundred menus.

    TTFN.

  34. ruthie says:

    I just found this. Seriously? You have a BLOG?

    So how do you feel about “Ask Jeeves”? Or are you past that?

  35. Matt Radford says:

    Apologies for skipping over the hetero/homo kissing scandal and going right back on-topic, but smartphones suffer from a major problem in my opinion, which is: trying to be all things to all men (whether gay or straight or somewhere in between). As Richard Madeley* said above, save us from acronymitus. The joys of the TLA may be obvious to geeks, but it does nothing but drive a wedge between those in the know and those who just want to get on and do something with the powerful gadget in their hand .

    We can’t get rid of the acronyms because they succinctly describe the technologies that drive these wonderful advances. What we can do is sufficiently subsume them within straightforward user interfaces, making ease of use paramount. I’ve been thinking for a while that phones perhaps need two interfaces – a basic mode and an advanced mode, so that regular users can simply get on with what they want to do, and users who expect their phone to do far more can flip the switch and experience a much more capable device. I’ve tried a few Windows Mobile phones, and I find the desktop metaphor simply doesn’t translate very well for me (and I consider myself fairly technically adept), and it certainly doesn’t pass the “Mum test”. Apologies to any gadget-obsessed Mums out there, but you’re not the norm.

    Perhaps even two modes are too many. Perhaps phone user interfaces need to be re-thought, making the basic functions more accessible. This is where the iPhone, whatever features it is missing, succeeds so well. I can hand this device to my mother and she’ll be making calls and surfing the web immediately, which I regard as a near-miraculous event.

    Cheers
    Matt

    *The link does go through to a Richard Madeleyeque site but is it really Richard or has he gained his own “Fake Steve”? Or is it a double-bluff? Time, I’m sure, won’t tell…

  36. You can soon add another phone to the list of possible perfect phones:
    The Garmin nüvifone
    http://www.garmin.com/nuvifone/

    I have the HTC Touch for about a year now and kinda like it but when it comes out the nüvifone will be mine.

  37. breadbox says:

    At some point (as Richard Stallman would say, “in the fullness of time”) a linux phone will appear on the market: it is described at openmoko.com, and while many recent accounts say that time is not yet as fullnessy as it might be, I gather that fullnessytime may be arriving soon.

    N.

  38. jeff says:

    No WiFi, clunky and kind of old, I just can’t find anything that does as much as my Treo. I have a 650, and avoid the Windows version like the plague. (The Palm OS may be creaky and have its quirks, but it works and you can figure it out!) I love the iPhone, but I can’t do half the stuff I want with it! Alas, the Treo Bulge stays with me.

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