I have long contended that we don't actually need more than one or two personal information devices in our lives. Thus far my personal experience is suggesting that's true.
I first had a personal digital assistant, back in the late '90s - a Psion mini personal computer. It was great for keeping organised, but I soon moved on to a Palm Pilot which, after a lot of fiddling about I was able to link up to my phone and get web access! Not very good web access, and in black and white, but still. The user-experience was a long way from what we take for granted today with our smart phones, but in many ways all that smart phones are is those two devices plus a GPS converged into one, slick device.
More recently tablets, have emerged to light. I tried out the 5" Dell Streak, one of the first "tablet-phone" hybrid attempts. In reality it was just a bit too big and clunky, so I went back to a trusty, fairly cheap HTC Desire S. It has performed admirably as both a phone and a device for
reading on the train.
What are tablets for?
I have a light-weight, highly portable all-purpose computing device in the form of my Mac Air that can do everything the iPad can do and more and better! Okay, the touch screen is cool, but what I actually want is a touch screen on my laptop and the ability to flip it over like some of the Windoze tablets, but with Apple's finesse - not yet-another-device.
Perhaps I was too operating-system-specific though and what I really needed was an Android tablet to complement my Apple laptop. So I tried one out for a bit, but could not see that it did anything that either my phone or laptop could do. This was true of the Kindle too, which I found, due to my irregular reading patterns, kept discharging, so now I do most my reading on my phone as well.
In case of breakage, assimilate function
My 3G USB dongle has not been working for about a month, but I've not missed it. Instead I've just been tethering my phone (setting it up as a mobile Wireless Access Point). I've actually been getting better service, so, bye bye USB dongle.
I recently lost my iPod Nano, which gave me the impetus to actually bother to crack the problem of using my mobile for music. I love MacOS and use iTunes for my music but dislike iPhones, preferring Android instead. I asked the Twitterverse and it answered: 'PowerAmp and iSyncr'. I purchased a 32GB microSD for my phone, installed the aforementioned packages, and now have my entire music collection on my phone, which it should be noted did not fit on the 16GB iPod nano!
My device convergence utopia: a Superphone
In my utopian vision of future technology I see us all having just one device that we carry everywhere which combines the functions of personal data storage, compute, location, biometric authentication, basic input & output (touchscreen & voice recognition) and multi-band communications devices.
It will be our personal super-computer - a superphone - and rather than lugging about lots of different devices with similar information on (why do I need copies of the same stuff on my phone and my laptop?) the other devices we will carry, if at all, will be input and output machines. This is already well within the realms of possibility; my next phone will have a dual-core 1.2GHz CPU, 1GB RAM and 64GB of storage - considerably more powerful than my laptop just a few years ago!
Scenario 1 - From Work To Home:
At work and home, my superphone has taken the place of my laptop. It interfaces directly with my keyboard and monitors. Since I'm home it knows to interface with the home security system too, which can tell me if someone is approaching. I tell it, verbally, to save all my work (automatically encrypted and backed up to the cloud too of course) and to activate the home cinema so I can carry on watching the ultra-high-def 3D film that it recommended and had already downloaded (I expect home broadband capacity to remain inadequate to real-time stream the latest generation of entertainment content for the forseeable future).
Scenario 2 - Business and pleasure:
Spot of lunch on business trip, I go to pay the bill swiping my superphone over the proximity RFID2 sensor and start to walk out, expecting the two devices to do their cryptographic key exchanges and talk to my bank as usual. I don't notice the plaintive bleeping from my phone, which is complaining that I'd not told the bank I was going overseas. Normally my superphone reads my diary and tells my bank and insurance company of my movements (as defined by my own set of rules of course!), but this is an impulse trip and I'd not put it in my diary. Duh! I duly verbally re-authenticate via my card app and all is well.
The list of possibilities goes on, but the point is that few of them require many devices - and none of them require more than one central compute/storage/comms device.
Follow Kate Craig-Wood on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Memset_Kate