Mobile Changeover. What’s Your Plan?

Posted on 22 June 2010 by

Mobile Devices

After Computex in Taiwan, a speaking gig in Barcelona, a casual weekend away in Holland and four days with my mother I’ve forgotten what my desk looks like. I’m even sitting on a train to Hannover as I write this! During the last weeks I’ve also built up reliance on an unnecessarily large stable of mobile devices and it’s frustrating me more than ever because we are deep in a changeover phase where nothing is ready. Obviously I haven’t bought all of the devices above (*1) so if I was a ‘real’ person I probably wouldn’t be in this mess but it’s an interesting exercise to see how certain devices have unique features, how the changeover is progressing and how I’m struggling to converge down to fewer devices right now.

In a way, it was easier two years ago. I had an underpowered smartphone with a poor OS and slow web experience and I complimented that with a  ultra mobile PC that was built for the job but today we’ve got an overlap where smartphones offer performance and an enjoyable, always-on quick-hit access to information, location and information from the internet and ones social circle. They provide an Internet experience with features that the desktop can’t provide [See article: The Full Internet Experience of 2010.]  Despite that, these expensive ‘do it all’ superphones still cant offer a full Internet experience, a productivity application suite and rarely last a full day on one battery.

On the other end of the scale we have netbooks that last all day but seem to be getting bigger, heavier and just don’t seem to perform as fast as the XP-based netbooks of 2008 and 2009.

In the middle of all this we have a rush on consumer focused tablets that don’t offer anything unique or productive for someone that just wants to get things done. It’s a three-pronged tease!

Why can’t I converge on just two or three devices?

There are some good netbooks out there but I haven’t found one as fast and with the excellent 3G reception of my modified Gigabyte Touchnote. The Viliv S10 provides 8 hour of battery life in a smaller, lighter form factor but if it’s slower to access applications, files and process images, I’m not interested. And yet, here I am, typing on the S10 because of the battery life.

There are some good smartphones out there but I haven’t found one that provides a full internet experience and still provides all-day battery life with good voice, contacts, SMS and MMS capabilities. Carrying a spare battery, all-day, every day is a no-no. And yet, here I am with the X10 in my breast pocket checking the world cup scores every few minutes.

At least I haven’t got an iPad too!

MeeGo offers me some hope. A full internet experience and an app store but it’s something needs to mature until at least late 2011 and in fact for it to function fast enough to be productive it will need a high-end dual-core ARM or Intel Moorestown platform that will not be able to provide all-day battery life in a smartphone form-factor.

I had thought that the Dell Streak might fit in well as my mobile internet device but that’s not working out. The Android browser works well for the sites commonly used by people testing and reviewing but in the long-term you’ find that it hits brick walls time and time again. In the last week I’ve had problems with my WordPress back-end, MobileMe galleries and even a captive login page for an open Wifi network that I couldn’t use. Having 95% of the Internet working is just not good enough. Android is developing well too but I’m not expecting a full browser in 2010 so splitting the voice and the internet functions on to two devices is still going to be the only option in order to preserve battery life for always-important voice, pim, alarm and sms functions and to guarantee the full internet experience I need for my work.

And then I have my personal cameraphone conundrum which leaves me with one smartphone to choose from.

My cameraphone conundrum

What a joke this is becoming. After 2.5 years with my Nokia N82 I still carry it everywhere and the only reason is the camera and flash (and to a certain extent, downloadable Nokia Maps which provide me cheap offline navigation and turn-by-turn.) There are devices with better camera sensors and optics that don’t have the flash or have a poor build or user interface and there are phones out there with better camera software and sharing features but are a complete let down when the sun goes down. (The Xperia X10 for example.) I did get a little excited at the Motorola XT720 which seems to be the first Android phone to offer 8MP with a Xenon flash but having analyzed some images on Flickr from early owners in Singapore, I don’t see that it will beat the N82. The iPhone 4 is also exciting but even though the sensor is reported to be high-quality, it will still need a flash and a LED lamp just doesn’t cut it. It leaves the Nokia N8 but I’ll be honest, it wont replace the N82 for ease of one-handed use and won’t offer the application suite and Google integration of Android that gives me proven advantages and efficiencies. The XT720 does look like the best option right now and I’ll be happy to swap out my X10 for one when it’s available. I need stability in my phone and I’ll be thankful for an Android device that can perform as well as the N82 in the camera department.

Summary.

The mobile device market for road-warriors and pro’s is a messy minefield that’s going through a big change and it looks to be staying that way until 2011. Android’s version of the Internet has roadblocks and Windows 7 netbooks are slower than Windows XP netbooks. New mobile operating systems are starting to develop.

My Plan:

Personally, I need to make some choices, slim down and wait until 2011 for the next move. at least in terms of phone/MID and this is how I plan to sit out the wait…

  • Dell Streak – Tested – Out due to lack of FIE.
  • Viliv S10 – Tested – Out due to slower performance compared to my Gigabyte Netbook. I will suffer with the extended battery on the Gigabyte until something much better comes along. Am prepared to wait until 2011 and the next generation netbook platform (Cedar Trail)
  • UMID BZ – In (possibly to be replaced with a long-term loan of the Viliv N5) as my handheld FIE device.
  • Mifi – In (for conferences, expos, meetings)
  • X10 + N82 – In but consider replacing with XT720 as my only mobile camera/smartphone.

What’s your mobile pro plan?

Have smartphones met your expectations?

Are they causing you battery life problems?

Are you satisfied with Windows 7 on a netbook?

Are you still looking for ultra-convergence?

Mobile Mix-Up

(*1) UMID BZ on long-term loan by UMID. Viliv S10 on long-term loan from Viliv. Dell Streak a shared-purchase with JKKMobile.

Categorized | Buyers Guide, History

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  • Mobile Changeover. What’s Your Plan? | UMPCPortal – Ultra Mobile Personal Computing – http://goo.gl/W2Ym

  • I`m using an OQO 01+ and an Toughbook CF-29 for my fieldwork. And my U820 for everytime in my bag pc. My phone is a SE Z660i which i can use as a hsdpa modem for all my stuff. So i can check mail headers with the Z660i and if it is really (and i mean really) important, i open the mail with my U820. This little thing have the smallest monitor which is usable for pdf exel and such stuff. Am i dreaming from an all in one perfect device? I don`t know, cause the limitation of my setup are reasons enough to use it only when it is necessary. And my clients can`t reach me my whole time and can`t expect that i answer mails seconds after they have sent it. I will not be misapprehended, i`m a early adopter in many ways and i`m working in the electronic business with high end video compositing workstations. But just yet i hate business dinners with Iphone users and the combat “who have the newest app”. So at the beginning of the way to find the best setup for me is the question: what really do i need? Or what will i do and what does i need for that. OK, this is not really an answer to your questions ;-)
    So here is my wish for Christmas: Toshiba Libretto W100 dual screen and solar power.

  • ok here are my thoughts on all.. i tried the whole series of mobile phones. but hanging on win mo 6.5. i tried the nokia and sony ericsson devices with symbian too but no change in hole day due to mass ob bugs. win mo has these too but there is a nice community xda devs who will solve all probs. so my choice is definitely a winmo device… these days im hanging on my HTC HD2 which is a really great device. first problems with the duration of battery are gone after upgrading to latest roms. so there is only a use for a productive device… i tried the whole series. from 10″ MSI Wind to 7″ viliv x70ex which were great devices but not THE ONE i can carry everywhere and work with. the x70ex is really nice gadget but in productive use theres no need for a touchscreen. Touchscreens are only a nice addon or a toy in my opinions… so i decided to use an extraordinary 2nd hand 400€ sony vaio p11z… great device but has some issues too… battery lasts only 2 hrs.. but great resolution and fully capable keyboard… in order to solve these issues i will got for a 2nd gen vaio p series with 2.13 ghz in the next weeks.

  • Olivier

    what’s FIE ?

    • techb4l

      Full Internet Experience

      If you click Chippy’s link to his Full Internet Experience of 2010 article from March, you’ll gain the complete understanding of what he’s talking about.

      • Olivier

        Thanks. What’s missing from the Streak for it to have it ? Opera by itself takes care of all the Web stuff ?

      • Thanks tech4bl.

        Opera mobile, not mini, would be interesting on Android.

  • jpmatrix

    the key words here are ‘battery life’ and ‘full internet & multimedia experiences’

    typically a smartphone has lot of promise about that but will always fail because of battery life and/or too small screen; besides a smartphone should always be usable as a phone so quickly one is limited to using its multimedia or internet capabilities in order to save battery life….

    after trying an Orange SPV, a Nokia 6630 then a HP iPaq 614, i finally resigned in using a smartphone… today i use my Nokia 6630 (with a high capacity battery!) for my feature-phone (and sometimes for taking photos like your N82 ;)

  • John in Norway

    I have completely different needs to you, Chippy, but I will be keeping to my present, long term devices – Nokia E90, Kohjinsha SC3 (runs great with Win 7)- because, although they have their faults, there’s nothing on the horizon that can replace them. Some of my needs, which my present arsenal together fulfills are – proper keyboards, inking ability, outdoor screens, battery life, small, lightweight, reliable, ports, removal batteries, etc etc. If I think I’m going to be taking decent pictures and videos (better than the E90 does) I’ll take my superzoom camera. Everything, including cables and accessories, fits into a small shoulder bag.

    I suppose if I had the chance to try out some devices, or even see them in a shop, things might be different.

  • jpmatrix

    the key words here are ‘battery life’ and ‘full internet & multimedia experiences’

    typically a smartphone has lot of promises about that but will always fail because of battery life and/or too small screen; besides a smartphone should always be usable as a phone so quickly one is limited to using its multimedia or internet capabilities in order to save battery life….

    after trying an Orange SPV, a Nokia 6630 then a HP iPaq 614, i finally resigned in using smartphones… today i use my Nokia 6630 (with a high capacity battery!) for my feature-phone (and sometimes for taking photos like your N82 ;) at least i can thrust it as a true phone :)

    second i recently bought a 32GB iPod Touch for my mp3 player and wifi-enabled/Novatel-MiFi-powered mobile internet device (for mainly mail, newspapers, rss and tweets); battery life is 3-4 days and at least if battery is dead (what i have never seen yet) i can always phone with my Nokia 6630 :)

    my everytime device ? in my bag, at work, at home, in holidays : a Fujitsu U1010 * used as only computer ! (by the way did you sell your u820???)
    like timelock i find it the most mobile device on which EVERYTHING is working… my OS ? after trying linux for a long long time, and xp tablet too in a dual boot, i ended installing windows 7 (internal hard drive changed for a SSD) and for now i’m really happy with it; Internet is wifi-accessible though the terrrrible MiFi, you already know.

    to replace my ‘old’ fujitsu the only device i see would be the Viliv S10; but i see that it has some drawbacks, and moreover it is bigger so less portable than the killing fufu :)

    so right now, i’m totally in the oppposite direction of what i would have like to do at the beginning with smartphones (one device for multiple usages) but at least all my devices has enough battery life and are not deadlocks ;) (to finish, i also bought a Canon ixus 100IS and an Eye-Fi for taking good photos;)

    to finish, i find the whole market right now is quite confusing… there are lots of device out there but each device is lacking something to be the ultimate Mobile Internet Device… so like everybody i’m waiting, waiting, waiting………….

  • Olivier

    don’t exchangeable or extended batteries solve the issue ? My brand new HD2 can do 1 day of normal use, and there’s an extended battery that doubles that. Its one flaw is that it doesn’t have video out, but I didn’t have the patience to wait for the Streak or the Evo. 4.3″ is kinda small, I’d get a bigger screen, probably a tablet so my bluetooth keyboard can do double duty, if I used it heavily for data entry.

    I just hate carrying multiple devices. The HD2 is a good compromise for me, as an MP3 player, phone, for light reading/browsing, video watching, and very light typing. I don’t do games, so I couldn’t say how it stacks up on that front, probably not too well.

    • chippy

      The HD2 is a great WM phone and a great solution for anyone that wants to try the best in convergence. The Evo and N900 and also devices to consider but for me, convergences comes with too many cut-corners.
      Steve

  • At the moment I’m using a P1610 Lifebook with 2GB RAM and a 64GB SSD, tablet functionalities and a transreflective display! With FireForxPortable loaded in a Ramdrive and a UMTS-card there’s the FIE :-) and CPU performance is good enough (even some primitive single track HD video editing). It lasts about 4hrs on battery and goes in combination with a HTC TouchDiamond (Smartphone, MP3-Player, Navigation, …) and a small JVC Everio HD Cam (Foto / Video). Including some equipment and a bottle of coke my bag goes with roundabout 5 kg – normally no problem except for the battery issue, which could be solved by adding a 1.2 kg heavy 133 Wh battery to the bag provinding me with additional 10-14 hours of usage or could feed the Diamond for a week or so. So I’m very happy with this combination and no need for a change (in fact my girlfriend got also a Diamond and an atom-driven netbook).

    And if there’s more mobility required an ancient HP Jornada 720 is ready to go (without FIE, but core funktionalities, mail and ICBM). :-D

  • Thomas

    I’m going to sound really dumb, but here we go.
    Three devices.

    1.Nokia n800. Low spec, old, not the best screen, nothing good showstopping about it. But it’s a maemo device, and it runs what I want it to run. I can run skype, google voice app, full version of facebook, twitter, mediaplayer, torrent downloader, all at the same time. And it’s still quite snappy. It seems low spec, but the apps were designed for it, and it works great for me. Battery life is enough for my occasional pull it out of my pocket, or listen to music.

    2.Asus 1005ha. This is the netbook for battery lovers. I turn it on batter saving mode and it will runs days or a week even between charges. I don’t have it on all the time, a majority is in standby. It is quick to wake from standby so I don’t have to worry about it or the battery. It’s running both meego and windows 7. Windows is the power os, if I need a windows app or program it is there. But meego saves me battery and time. Very very fast operating system, makes battery life better, and overall easy to use.

    3.Regular phone. No keyboard, ok camera. I’m not a picture taker, so I don’t need to worry about the camera. I use my n800 whenever I need to punch out text, so I don’t need to worry about a keyboard. Just a simple flip phone for calls.

    • chippy

      That’s exactly the spread of devices im looking for too. Phone, MID, Netbook. N800 is too slow for me (an updated N810 with Maemo on Cortex or bigger N900 would work as a MID tho.)

  • Dpmt

    You have the 1.6 ghz S10 Blade right? Because I haven’t had many speed problems with my 2.0 ghz version.

    Having the an N900 and the S10 gives me a nice mix of features. The battery life on the N900 is usually fine but if I’m not careful it can drain in a hurry. My S10 is out for repair right now (cracked LCD) but it is wonderful on the road.

    I do miss Android and plan on moving to another phone in the next 6 month. The Gmail, Google voice and lack of good navigation software are things I miss most. Though I’m also looking forward to things like HDMI out and 720p video recording. I think I’ll keep the N900 around as a MID/PMP,32GB is still to good to pass up.

    • chippy

      The N900 should have been a 4.3′ device and positioned as a mid with phone capabilities. You are right that it is too good to sell if you already have one and are thinking of moving on to a new phone. Maybe the next maemo slider will be the perfect MID. I hope nokia dont get the tablet bug and go for a 5′ tablet.

      • Dpmt

        No kidding, I hope the first Meego device has a keyboard if only because the software keyboard on the N900 is terrible.

      • rabs

        Exactly my though… nice to see we are a bunch hoping for such a device

  • Shane

    You are seriously over-thinking this. You can get by with 3 devices:

    1) Smart phone.

    2) Proper notebook. Something like the MacBook Air. Light, but with decent grunt, keyboard and screen space.

    3) A proper camera. No point using a camera phone as camera if you are not going to use the “phone” part (you are already using another phone).

    • chippy

      You need to test a good cameraphone. Sharing, posting, emailing photos as you take them is a feature that I will never give up.

  • chippy

    I think the XT720, N5, 1.2kg Notebook trio would work well for many here.

    Android for a flexible, fun phone. Viliv N5 for serious internet work, laptop for the table, seat-back, conferences, desktop etc.

    This is the sort of setup im aiming for in terms of sizes and form factors.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/umpcportal/4726958128/

    • JonnyN

      Out of interest, what does the BZ offer that X10 doesn’t?

      I’ve got an HD Mini and although I don’t get FIE, it’s enough for me (train times, footie highlights, twitter, FB, photo uploads). Once I get the S10 I’ve been waiting for I can’t imagine where a MID would fit in?

  • David

    With android, I use Xscope browser with User Agent set to “computer” instead of “Android” and all webpages show up just as they would on a desktop.

    My Droid is rooted, overclocked to 1ghz and running 2.2 “froyo” with working flash and the internet experience is identical to a desktop’s, except for the small screen of course.

    I know those modifications aren’t yet available to Europeans, but I can say that Froyo + Flash greatly increases the experience, and it should arrive before too long.

    I am holding my breath for a 4.3 inch slider from Motorola for their “promised” 2ghz phone.

    • Thanks David.

      I have spent some time with the browser and am impressed so far. The best browser i’ve tried on Android.
      There are still issues (e.g. I can only edit in my wordpress back-end if I use HTML display mode on the edit window) but it’s a step further. I like the features too, especialy zoom, tab and full-screen features.

      I recommend others to test this out too.

  • Paul

    for the ignorant, could you tell me what the upper right hand device is in your picture?

    Thanks!

  • Russell

    Hi, I have an HTC smartphone, a Macbook and the Viliv X70 128GB SSD with 3G. I was a big fan of the Newton and still have my Newton 2100. I always said “If I could find a device with the 7″ screen with excellent handwriting recognition and the full functionality of a travel PC, I would buy it.” The Viliv X70 fits my needs for now.

    What’s your mobile pro plan? – I was waiting for the HP Slate – the specs seemed good except for the battery life, but that never came to market. The Viliv isn’t perfect but the power and functionality of the Dynaism special edition with 128GB is one of the best things I’ve seen. I can use my travel size bluetooth keyboard or hook up a full size USB keyboard and connect it to an external monitor when I need to. I use it to edit documents in Portrait mode with win 7 handwriting recognition and works really really well. I also have a sony vaio U50, but the 5″ screen and the 512 megs of RAM are a deal breaker. Right now, in terms of functionality and portability (USB, SD slot, touch screen, decent battery life, etc.), the Viliv X70 is not perfect, but it’s really ideal for my needs.

    Have smartphones met your expectations? – No. I do not use the HTC phone as a real mobile computing device./ The 3.8″ screen doesn’t allow me enough space to work like I want. I have never been able to run a presentation from my phone, so it’s used primarily for texting and phone calls.

    Are they causing you battery life problems? – The battery life for the HTC phone is fine, but I would really want a battery that can keep me working or playing during the cross-country trips from LA to NY.

    Are you satisfied with Windows 7 on a netbook? – I am more satisfied with Windows 7 than I would have imagined, and don’t have problems with the system on the Viliv.
    Are you still looking for ultra-convergence? Absolutely. I am constantly reading blogs and listening to Chippy and JKK and others discuss new technologies. Perfect device would be the size of the HP Slate 8.9 ” with 8 hours of usable battery life, 2 gigs RAM, Win 7 and 128 GB SSD drive, touch screen (no multitouch), 2.0 GHz, 4-a pixel webcam, wifi, Bluetooth, 2 USB slots an SD slot and a VGA out weighing 1.5 lbs would be my ideal device.

    • Hi Russell
      Thanks for sharing your experiences.
      Why did you choose a tablet instead of a clamshell-style device like the UMID? Is it because you need the 7″ screen size? (the 7″ clamshells like the SC3 are neither fully thumbable or touch-typable. It’s often a problem for people)

      • Russell

        Hi Chippy,

        you’re exactly right, I chose the 7″ for the ease of use with the thumb type or virtual keyboard and for the screen size, my eyes aren’t what they used to be. I still have the Vaio u50 with the fold-up keyboard, but the slow speed and sub par battery make it unusable for travel. I really have great success with the Viliv even though I would have liked 2 Gigs of RAM. I also owned the Fujitsu LifeBook U810 Mini-Notebook for a year, but the keyboard drove me crazy. I’ll keep looking for the “perfect device” but for now I’ll stick with the Viliv X70 – just the right size. Keep up the great work with the posts!

  • Knusperkeks

    I’m currently using a Sony UX380N with 32GB SSD and an Eee 900.
    At first I thought, that the UX380N would be the perfect device for me, but after some time i realized that it is just too big for a real mobile use, because i dont always have a bag with me (and 2h of battery life are also an issue), so i use my ipod touch more than the umpc. For me, i think the new droid 2 would be perfect, because this is a device which i can simply put in my pocket. I realized that i dont need a win7-umpc all the time, because for serious work the screen is to small and “just” for surfing the web, i think the new droid with android and flash are perfect.

    So for me, i would be possible to replace my phone, my ipod and my umpc with just one device =)

  • fab

    HTC Desire as mobile phone / MID. my panasonic lumix waterproof cam which endures basically everything and underwater pics/vids are absolute fun. and my laptop at home for serious computing. i had a netbook for a long time, but gave it up as it is not as good as a smartphone/MID for mobility and it’s not as powerful as a laptop. my next device would be a smartphone/MID with webcam integrated and a bigger screen (and no, i’m not an apple follower…). i thought a viliv N5 would be an option, although….well..it could only be if ubuntu runs on it without problems.

    • fab

      oh forgot something very important: USB host would be THE option in an android smartphone/MID and also bluetooth pairing with external keyboard (which works already partially) – this device would be THE netbook killer!

  • stupid

    yes i am with you, nokia n82 has a great camera with super flash :)
    but it also has the best maps, soooo superfast, and always updated. I have compared many gps but this is superfast with poi really high zoomed out.Navteq is owned by nokia, which bingmaps use, they are better the the maps from teleatlas which tomtom own and googlemaps use.

  • Bearnheart

    Here is my grand design. 3-4 devices for my mobility:
    1. a) Watch with phone always with me (my current device is Nokia E51 without camera for security-sensitive companies). May be changed to Skype handy, a wrist-phone or anything else.
    1. b) Optional dual-sim handy, can be left at home or in the laptop backpack. May be combined with or replaced by a new always-with-me-phone.
    2. On-the-go-productivity HSPA-UMPC which fits the 16-17cm pockets (my current device is a HP Jornada 690, but I am trying to find a psixpda or Eking S515 in Germany because I need a ASD…LÖÄ# keyboard for producing input by 10 fingers blind-typing).
    3. Mobile productivity convertible laptop (my current device is the DELL XT2 with DLV Day-Light-Viewable multi-touch TabletPC). A stylus convertible can be used where it is impossible or difficult to use a mouse, e.g. in bus, train, or on grass.

    • Bearnheart

      Here is my long-term view:
      As mentioned above:
      1. Wrist-phone with push-email and touchscreen or emergency input mini keyboard (and optional GPS, phone-camera).
      2. HSPA-UMPC with ASD..LÖÄ# keyboard (or at least ..LÖÄ) and touch screen as central computing device which fits the 16-17cm pockets (similar to psixpda, Eking S515, Sony Vaio P with touchscreen, Fujitsu UH900).
      3. A4-size day-light-viewable output device (flexible multi-touch e-ink-paper, tablet, mini-beamer or whatever), which can receive the display output of the HSPA-UMPC for bigger picture.

      • Bearnheart

        Correction: replace watch-like wrist-phone with slate-like forearm-phone with small 16:9 touchscreen (maximal size 12cm x 5 cm).

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