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?!