Saturday, January 22, 2011

The impossible device

  As I followed the onslaught of Android tablets announced at CES this year, each device I read about had at least one flaw that was severe enough to remove it from consideration as my next gadget.

  The Motorola Xoom is on Verizon and is rumored to be $800. The Asus Transformer is running Android 2.2 and is heavily skinned by Asus. The Motorola Atrix (the best device of CES) is on AT&T; with capped data service having such a device is pointless. The Notion Ink Adam is heavily skinned, with miserable resolution. The list of disappointments goes on.

  I began thinking about what I would want from my next gadget. I have a set digital needs that my laptop, e-book reader, and phone do not meet.

  Reading digital media is the foremost need I have. Between digital references for my professional work, fiction for pleasure, and materials for classes I'm reading more than I ever have before. Reading is a tough activity to facilitate with a digital device. The device must be light enough to use comfortably for long periods of time, the screen must be large, preferably 8.5" x 11" to match the original format. The dot-pitch must be high, and the screen must be readable in sunlight and in darkness. Qualcomm and Mirasol are still a long way off from making a large screen.

  Note Taking after testing many different applications for taking notes, xournal, org-mode, Google docs, and even Gimp. Nothing beats a pencil and paper for recording high quality notes. Software and a stylus solves this problem. Stylus' are a dime a dozen, sadly there's no software available that does an adequate job.

  Linux it's impossible for me to get by in class or at work without a constantly ready Linux environment. Ideally there would be a virtual machine running a user maintained Linux. Access to the virtual machine would be through an application such as VNC.

   A portable keyboard clamshell & desktop dock are needed to interact with the Linux environment. An on-screen keyboard is useful for only short messages, nothing more. To have a useful Linux environment the device needs a desktop dock for the home and the office, and a clamshell to stuff in the messenger bag.

  Android or Chrome nearly all of my online activities pass through Google's services. After going Google with my browser and now my phone. I prefer most of my Google interactions through my "native" phone applications.

  Connectivity the device must always have an unfettered data and voice connection. Seedy contracts with capped data usage and overage charges are designed to gouge the consumer. I'm not willing to pay for a such a service. I will however, pay a premium to be given unlimited data and voice connectivity.

  Wireless power and long battery life there's no room in my bag for power cords. Thankfully Qi base stations exist, the device just needs a receiver.

  With the exception of the large Mirasol display all the technologies exist. Sadly I'll never see a device that meets most of my needs. I'm willing to pay, I'm willing to put the effort into customizing a device that comes close to what I want.

  In the mean time I'll continue to be disappointed.