convergent devices are the go


This is an unashamedly gadget proud entry. I would have said geek, but a friend recently sent my a geek test and I scored 43% on it, which I’ve taken to indicate a fail.

I finally took the plunge and purchased an 02 XDA Atom smartphone in KL. It came with a 1 Gb miniSD card and a carrying case plus a screen protector. I’ve been using it pretty intensely since I’ve got it and couldn’t be happier.

Basically, the XDA Atom, as with most of its family of devices, is a jack-of-all-trades or a swiss-army-knife of electronic devices – it can pretty much do everything that’s out there at the moment, but it cant do any of it very well.

It has the standard functions of most media rich phones that you can buy these days – a camera and video camera (standard no frills happy clicker 2 megapixels with a small almost useless flash) and an FM radio. No surprises there. I don’t have a camera at the moment and generally don’t take anything more than happy clicks anyway so am happy with it.

Because it’s a PDA however running MS mobile, it can run and store a fair amount more programs than a media rich phone can which means that I can play my compressed music files (vorbis format which needed a different media player application) along with videos or whatever. Again, this is ok if you’re happy with 1 Gig storage space (shared with photos etc) and so-so battery life (about 2 hours). Otherwise as the largest SD card you can get these days is 4 Gig or so, iPod like specialist devices are probably a better choice even if it does take up more pocket real estate (when you take into account having to carry a phone too).

As the Atom has wireless and several other connectivity options and runs a cutdown version of Internet Explorer, I get to check my email, jump on the web, update my blog etc when I am find a wireless hotspot or choose to pay for connection in other ways. This is good if you can handle doing all this in a 240X320 sized screen, otherwise a laptop or one of those spiffy little tablet pc things would be better. I also use my PDA as a book, applications like uBook Reader means that many of Project Gutenberg’s online texts can be downloaded, stored and read. Very handy to be able to carry a few hundred books around in your pocket.

Finally, I can synch up the Atom with my laptop and home computer and use it as a way to transport data. You don’t get to move a lot of data around but anything less than 1 gig is ok (even if it takes a *long* time to copy).

My idea of a perfect device would be one just like the Atom but with say 200 gigs, much more processing power, much longer battery life and the ability to plug it in to a proper monitor, a key board and DVD burner/reader ie a mini computer. If it ever comes out, it means that I wont need a home computer or a laptop anymore. I doubt this will be on the market soon even if some prototypes are floating around currently – battery life and size is a problem. Any such device cant be much larger than the Atom is.