Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pocket Computers

On one of the mailing lists where I participate, we were talking about pocket computers.   Jerry Pournelle has referred to his iPhone as approacing the pocket computers that he and Larry Niven wrote about in The Mote in God's Eye.
Similarly, my Blackberry 8330 approaches being a pocket computer, although there's no way to hook up an external mouse, monitor, and keyboard.  But it's a phone, still camera, video camera, GPS, and more.  Specs here.

An example of the usefulness of these capabilities occurred last weekend while my family was on an overnight getaway.  I have the Google Mobile apps installed.  I was able to use Google Maps to get a real-time traffic report for Marshall's Creek, PA, which is in the Poconos, well outside where you can get traffic reports on the radio.  I was also able to use the Google Maps search feature to find a place to stop for lunch.  (Note that while Verizon doesn't allow Google Maps to talk to the internal GPS, the app can give you a rough idea of your location by triangulating from cell towers.  If I need the GPS, I need to use the OEM Blackberry Maps application.  I am hoping this handicap is not present in my next phone.)

To heck with tablet PCs.  I've tried them and they are neither fish nor fowl.  They are too big to use comfortably without a keyboard.  If someone introduces a smart phone device to which you can connect a docking station with a mouse, keyboard, monitor, and Ethernet adapter, it'll be game changing.  You'll be able to take all of your data (or a large subset) with you, yet still be able to use a comfortable user interface when in the office.


Steve said...


I have a Blackberry 8900 that includes a GPS receiver and I use google maps several times a month, my carrier T-Mobile doesn't place any limits on google maps connecting to the internal GPS receiver. I tried the Blackberry map app but prefer google maps. You might want to look at changing your wireless carrier ;-)

Steve in Coloorado

Dave Markowitz said...

I stick with Verizon because at least in my area, they have the best network, by far. T-Mobile sucks pretty hard around here.