I recently had a personal technological epiphany. Unfortunately, it wasn’t some great idea for a new product or service that would make me millions. No, this was one of those realizations that serves to make my life better in a small but meaningful way. So here it is; there is no single gadget out there that can do it all. I am not talking about a phone that can also make strawberry shakes, or an iPod that can make a good espresso. I am talking about the continued attempts by companies to jam as much as possible into one device, and have it work… well.
I have been searching to the ultimate all-in-one device for many moons now, and all attempts have borne no fruit. I tried with a Sony Playstation Portable (PSP), hoping that it would display my photos, play my MP3’s and videos, hold my important files, browse the web, and even play games. A few of these things it does well, the others, no so much. It’s also limited by the type and size of flash memory I had bought for it. I couldn’t hold my games, MP3s, photos and movies all at the same time.
I tried again with the Cingular 8525, the mother of all phones. It can do a lot of what the PSP can, plus make calls, minus the games. However, its software was unstable, and the flash memory format was not at all convienent (and expensive).
What I have realized is that it is better to have many devices perform their function well, than to try and have one device handle many functions poorly. That doesn’t mean one has to go mainstream. What the masses choose to play music, make calls, or take pictures with is the best choice for everyone. In fact, I was very close to purchasing an iPod after my experience with the PSP. I no longer wanted to play games, and decided that maybe just photos, music and videos will bring me to a device that “just works”. It did. And though the Archos player I bought does not do music alone as well as an iPod, it does all three just fine (interestingly enough, Archos’ most recent attempts at adding more features to their players have brought the ire of their customers. Looks like I am not the only one learning a lesson). As for a phone, I am using a cheap Nokia that does the “cellular phone” thing just fine.
I imagine that the ultimate portable device is out there just waiting to be made. I happen to know that the Apple iPhone is not it (not enough space for all of my media, nice try Apple). However the PSP, Archos 404, Cingular 8525, and even the iPhone are all progress. Until then, I will be concentrating on what I want a device to do and worrying about that function alone. The rest is gravy.