Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Sitting on the desk in front of me are my phone (a Blackberry), my iPod (an older click-wheel monochrome model, 40GB), a GPS, and a digital camera.

Right now, each of these devices is charging, syncing, or simply slumbering. And that's fine. I'm at home, it's going on 10:00 in the evening, and there's nothing pressing going on. However, anytime I leave the house, I take my phone with me, and frequently I'm going on journeys for which I need or want two or more of these items, frequently all four. Any one of them is convenient to slip into a pocket and go, but dealing with more than one gets unwieldy in a hurry.

What I would really like is a device that combines all four. Yes, there's a camera function on my phone, but it's just not very good. And yes, it'll play music as well, but it has neither the function nor the capacity of my iPod, and it won't handle the songs I've purchased from iTunes. Sure, I could make mp3 files of those songs, but there are an awful lot of them at this point. So as much as I like my Blackberry (which is significant - it's the first phone I've had that I've liked, and I like it a lot), it isn't quite the device I'm looking for.

So that's why I'm hoping the rumors of the iPhone coming to Verizon are true. Getting an iPhone would at least let me combine the iPod and the phone, and I imagine there are probably some decent GPS apps for it as well. I don't expect the camera to be a match for a standalone digital camera, but it can't be any worse than the one on the Blackberry. It would be enough for occasional casual use, at any rate. I would probably miss the Blackberry's physical keyboard, but I'm sure I could get used to typing on a touchscreen.

The one thing that does concern me about the iPhone is its storage capacity. I understand the highest-capacity model at this point is 32GB, and that just isn't enough. My current 40GB iPod is almost full. I'm sure there's some dead weight on there that I could clear off, but even if that's true, 32GB isn't going to give me any room to expand. And that's just music! That's not taking into account any apps I'd want to download or content I'd want to create. So even though I'm eager to consolidate all my technology, I'm not 100% sure the iPhone is going to be the right answer anytime soon, even if it does come to Verizon.

On a somewhat related note...before I had an iPod, I didn't really see what the big deal was. Then I bought one for my wife (who wasn't my wife at the time, incidentally), and as soon as I had a chance to see it in action a little bit, I knew I had to have one for myself. Being able to carry my entire music collection with me all the time? Hell yes. Now, if there's one thing I love more than music, it's books. So you'd think an e-reader device, like a Kindle or an iPad, would be high on my wishlist. Right?

Well...not so fast, my friend.

First off, notice the word I chose above: I love not just literature, but actual books. I love the tangible weight of a book in my hand, the feel and smell of the pages. I love my overflowing bookshelves, and the conversations that can result from a visitor simply glancing them over. I like being able to loan books to friends, or trade them in at used bookstores, or donate them to the library. Granted, I very rarely do either of those last two, because I have a hard time parting with a book whether I like it or not, but I do like having the option, at least. E-readers negate all of these things. The Kindle, which has a monochrome display, eliminates the possibility of comics and graphic novels, as well. So if I had to choose one, I'd go with the iPad, which, due to its variety of functions, could probably solve all my problems above, too - if it were about 1/4 the size.

Still, I have to admit, there are times when having an entire collection of books in convenient travel size is an extremely appealing thought. The problem, of course, is that you have to buy everything new. With an iPod, you can rip any and all CDs you already own into digital files that can be loaded. You can't do anything like that with a book, though. The only real solution I can think of, and it would be nothing more than a compromise, would be if, anytime you purchased an actual book, you could get a digital copy with it, even for an additional (nominal) charge. You wouldn't have your entire collection, but at least you'd be able to have anything you bought new.

At this point, I'm just holding out hope that someone will build me an R2 unit. Good for all purposes.

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