My Search For A Perfect Computer

I found this post in my drafts folder at the end of last year – originally I was going to share my thoughts on Chrome OS, Android, tablet computers and my quest to find a single phone/tablet/computer that’s portable and does everything. The thing is for all that they are all awesome there isn’t quite one device that can do everything yet… close but no cigar. An iPhone with a bigger screen would probably do just about everything I’d want but I can’t stand syncing with iTunes and would far rather have another Android device.  I’ve had an HTC Desire Android phone for a about a year and a half now and it’s pretty good. It was amazing to have for all the late nights and early mornings when Martha was needing parental supervision (when the laptop would just be too unwieldy) and it has definitely gone some way to replacing some of my laptop usage… but it isn’t quite there yet because there are some jobs that it just can’t do.

The default Android keyboard is really bad compared to the iPhone but the SwiftXKeyboard goes some of the way to fixing that. The contacts manager really needs some work (although this has been fixed in the newer versions of Android… which unfortunately HTC can’t update the Desire to). The biggest gripe is that it’s always complaining about not having enough space for applications and the browser is still treated by some sites as a mobile browser which prevents access to some content (grr!) but apart from those things it’s a decent phone and I’d definitely buy another HTC or another Android phone in the future. And I have to say that I’ve had less frustrations with the Desire than I had with my iPhone 3. So a new Android phone running ICS would be pretty sweet.

My biggest single iPhone annoyance was iTunes – not just the software itself but the necessity to sync and rely on a computer… something it’s nice to get away from with Android. (Again, this is less necessary with the new iPhones but I’m just not really an AppSore or iTunes fan). And so far I don’t think there have been too many iPhone features that I’ve missed on my phone. But it’s still just a phone and I still need to use my laptop or my work computer or Ruth’s MacBook to do some things (mainly anything typey or anything involving FTP/editing websites).

My Asus EEE1000HE running Ubuntu is decent, battery life is good and it’s mostly a happy experience – and it’s definitely worth more than the £250 it cost – but Ubuntu isn’t as polished as either Windows 7 or Mac OS Lion, nor is it anywhere near as fast. Most irritatingly the world still uses Microsoft Office to make Word and Excel documents – Libre Office just doesn’t cut the mustard. Nor, to be honest, does Google Docs, no matter how much I love Google Docs the formatting can’t compare to Office. Wesbite editing and typing are fine, photo editing is just a bit too tedious.

I love Macs, especially the styling. I like Mac OS but I’m also fine with Windows 7 or Ubuntu. In fact if it weren’t that they cost so much I’d probably buy a MacBook Air and have a phone too and not even think about one device to rule them all. But I sort of think in this day in age that it should be possible so here are my requirements for replacing my phone and my laptop and my camera with one device:

  • Independent device (no need for syncing to another computer)
  • Decent sized hard drive
  • Optional physical keyboard – Bluetooth would be fine
  • 8 hours+ battery life under usage, 24h+ on standby
  • The essential ability to send texts (and thus be 3G and wifi)
  • The all-important ability to make voice calls – again, a Bluetooth headset would be fine
  • Ability to FTP to a site, download and edit webpages
  • A real browser (with Flash) – I’m looking at you here Chrome!
  • A camera with a camera-sized sensor and a regular flash
  • A screen of approximately 7 inches in size – small enough that it can still fit in my jeans pocket, large enough to be able to be seen as a laptop replacement… and if someone makes a screen that folds then that will do nicely
  • Microsoft Office?!

At the moment there are several “contenders” but none are quite there yet. Amazon’s Fire isn’t a phone, nor is the iPad, Asus Transformer or Motorola Xoom. The HTC Flyer and Samsung Galaxy Tab both have 7 inch screen versions but have lots of other issues. Maybe when Google brings out the rumoured tablet it’ll tick more of the boxes. For the mean time? Can I get a new HTC phone and a MacBook Air for under £500?!

“Hippy” New Year

Well… 2011 is over eh? I hope it was a good one for you. It’s been an awesome one for me with lots of great Martha moments, a cool holiday to Northumberland, an expedition to the Netherlands, 2 fab weddings, another National Novel Writing Month and lots of other awesomeness. I’d normally review the music I most listened to or the books/films I’ve watched but instead I think I’ll review my 4 “hippy” personal challenges that I tried for 2011:
  1. Ditch the bus and walk more – success. I saved a fortune by cancelling my Rideacard and lost a fair chunk of weight walking the 2.3 miles to work and back. It was also a time saving as the construction of Edinburgh’s trams meant that the bus was taking 35 minutes on a good day and I can walk it in 28!
  2. Stop using normal deodorant and use salt rockcrystal instead – again success. I’m allergic to practically every other deodorant and one rockcrystal has not only lasted 12 months (big financial saving) but hasn’t even gone down a quarter and I (nor the people around me) have noticed me being smelly.
  3. Stop using shampoo/soap – success. I read on boing boing! about this one and decided to give it a go. Basically needing to shampoo every day is usually a self-fulfilling prophecy and once you break the cycle your hair will look after itself. It was actually harder to remember not to reach for the shampoo that you can possibly believe! (I was still doing it in May!) The results have been boringly fine – for me shampoo was totally superfluous.
  4. Try to cut down on unnecessary commitments to free up more time for what we’d like to do – still a work in progress!
And for 2012?
  1. Ruth’s Photo A Day has been a huge success this year so I am going to take the reins for 2012 by taking a photo each day… I hope that I remember to do it every day and don’t end up with too many late night photos taken out of the bedroom window!
  2. Inspired by some of the blogs/books I’ve read (ZenhabitsMnmlist and the 100 Things Challenge) we’re going to try to get rid of/sell/charity shop approximately 200 things… we’re not going to go crazy, just try to free up a bit more space.
  3. I’m going to make much more of an effort to catch up with and visit friends
  4. I’m going to try to see more gigs – not just Frightened Rabbit (although maybe just once!)
  5. We’re planning a rather adventurous holiday… it’s not really a resolution but it’s going to be awesome!
Wish me luck.