So Many Gadgets
This week Amazon announced new Kindles, both low-power e-book readers that work forever on a charge in ambient light, and the color tablet Kindle Fire.
Fun. I want. But what do I want? What gadgets do I want? (What do I need?)
Smartphone, notebook computer, tablet, e-book reader, Ipod, Camera, Hiking GPS?
Each has its virtues…
Little, always with me, internet access (when I am in T-Mobile territory). Hard to be without.
Keyboard, real web browser, lots of disk space, multiple windows at once, lot of familiar software. As a software engineer, needed for nerding.
(My current notebook is wearing out. Anyone have a good recommendation for a nice sub-notebook? Under 3-pounds, full dimension screen, good trackpad, works well with Ubuntu, tough?)
I don’t really know, I don’t have one. But I want one. I want something like my phone but bigger. Even though pulling out my notebook and opening the cover is very easy (sleep to RAM wakes up quite quickly) I want something that is even easier: just pull out the tablet and hit the switch, no lid to open nor surface to sit on needed.
I want a big screen phone with a front-facing camera (my phone doesn’t have that).
I want to be able to read the New York Times better. My phone can read the Times but with such a small screen. My notebook can read the Times, but such a production to open it up and set it down. (Oh, so much work!)
I also want to use Google Maps on a bigger screen than my phone. As impressive as maps are on my phone, maps scream for big. Remember paper maps? They are big for a reason, so you can see where you are, and where you are going, and detail in between.
I want to play Angry Birds on a bigger screen.
I have this idea that a tablet can be more opportunistic, not as omnipresent as my phone, but more casual and available than my notebook.
The Kindle Fire
Is rather tempting at $200. Luckily I am saved for the moment because it isn’t yet available.
But it is rather limited:
- No cameras.
- No orientation sensors nor gyroscope.
- No GPS (Google’s Maps application probably won’t install at all without GPS, doesn’t seem to exist on Amazon’s Appstore).
- No Bluetooth.
- No microphone.
- Probably no apps that don’t come from Amazon’s appstore. (A little like Apple’s closed Ipad ecosystem.)
Still, it is only $200.
Update: Nexus 7!
Same price as the Kindle Fire, but all those things I complained about? Google fixed them all. Okay, the camera is front facing only, but it is there! Nice machine, I am using it to update this post now. Get one.
The key features here are long battery life, screen that uses ambient light and is easy to see outdoors, and limited function so I don’t keep looking at what new Tweets have shown up. The new cheap Kindle is so small and pretty dang cheap at $79 (still only $109 without ads). And so small. And linked to my reading on my phone’s Kindle app.
I’ve been reading a 400+ page book on the Kindle app on my phone and it is taking forever. I have this idea it would go faster if I had a bigger, better reading screen.
(No, I won’t cooperate with marketing driven fuNNy caPITaliZatioN.) I have a 120 GB Ipod and it is great to have a ton of music available. It works without any network connection. It has great battery life. (Alas, it might be discontinued soon. Constantly listening to things I already own, and free podcasts, doesn’t generate any bucks for Apple.)
I also have the FM radio adapter that Apple used to sell, and would listen to public All Things Considered and Morning Edition on it, but now I usually use my phone for that–it gets better reception in buildings.
I don’t usually have it on my person these days, not like I used to, my phone is the bigger entertainment. Instead my Ipod has been relegated to the larger bag I carry my notebook computer in. Handy at work, handy in the car, not terribly far away at most other times.
I like having my little camera with my almost always. I like that “film” is now essentially free, I can use the camera to take notes and document physical stuff (what exact replacement part do I need at the hardware store?, I look the picture I took of the dismantled gizmo at home).
My phone has a camera, but I think it is a lesser device, though I haven’t tried side-by-side comparisons. I know the phone doesn’t have a real zoom. Swapping new memory cards is easier on my camera than on my phone because the phone has other data on the card I don’t want to swap out.
The usage model is different, the phone wants to upload photos, the dedicated camera wants to transfer them to my notebook.
The camera has a battery that doesn’t need constant charging because it is only for the camera. The camera doesn’t have GPS and can’t tag photo locations.
I have to throw this in.
My phone has GPS, and better maps than does my Garmin GPS Map 60Cx, but I still like my Garmin with the North American maps I bought for it:
- It has better battery life.
- It has a display that can easily be read in sunlight.
- Its maps work when out in the sticks! No need for any cell service. (When there is cell service it is also sometimes nice to have a second opinion for navigating.)
- It is far tougher than my cellphone, it is pretty happy being dropped and being used in the rain. Works in cold weather where my phone reboots.
- I have a nice mount for it on my bike where it is a nice speedometer and map.
I don’t have my hiking GPS with me always, but I frequently have it in my bigger bag, with my iPod and notebook computer.
And the Winners Are?
I don’t know yet. These are very different beasts. The dedicated devices are nice in that they are better optimized for their specific uses. The multi-use devices (phone, notebook) are nice for their general purpose aspects but I am then afraid of dropping it on a hard rock and being out too many features.
I suspect there are some Amazon products to be added to my list of toys in the next few months.
-kb, the Kent who always has some tech on him.
©2011 Kent Borg