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"Walk-Around" device

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I find that everyone at this site tends to try designing products and specs for themselves without the sense to first state exactly what the product is for. Mentions of a market niche aren't specific enough to suggest a product design; you have to have expectations of what the product is going to dothen you can worry about what the product is going to look like and what goes under the hood.

I've seen lots of talk suggesting that people need some thing to take with them when away from the computer and out living their off-the-butt lives. Cell phones, Mp3 players, and PDAs already exist; some companies are mixing these functions, throwing in additional features like cheap lo-fi cameras, trying to find an equilibrium between functions that will satisfy everyone. I'd like to see what everyone thinks that equilibrium should be. What's the equilibrium between being disconnected from the world and being distracted from the reality your walking through? What's the equilibrium between versatility(swiss-army knife syndrome), quality, and commercial feasiblity? What exactly do people need this dohicky to do?
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post #2 of 18
I think the following equilibrium would be nice:

a portable device with hard disk (preferably > 100 GB), firewire2, which functions as, on the one hand, an MP3 player, and on the other hand, as a digital camera with a ccd of about 5 megapixel, but it can also be 4 , and a 22 to 250 mm optical zoom lense, writing, of course, its pictures and DV-quality streams to the HD.

Of course, this device has to fit in my pants pocket, and in the palm of my hand, and it shouldn't cost more than, say, 4 to 500 dollars.

Now that would be a killer device.
post #3 of 18
I am at a conference, and have my iPod, cell phone, and PDA. Now we know that the iPod and PDA are merging over time, I think that a phone rather camera is the next logical step. Along with iChat and rendezvous, this would be an all in one portable solution for communication and calendaring.
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post #4 of 18
I do not want to carry a phone, PDA and an iPod.
the pda, phone & iPod mix seems to make since to me
I do not want a camera PDA because the camera quality would suffer too much
Of course for me to consider a camera it would have to be near pro quality like the canon powershot g2
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post #5 of 18
I think it is fair to assume Apple will be morphing the iPod into a device with more functions(The addition of calendaring and other features with the last update lead me to believe this). And I think the first poster was correct that most of the conversations on these discussions tend to be "What I want in a xxx device is ..." and don't focus on probablility, reality, or marketability of these products.

If you look at some trends, I think we can make some estimates on what is likely to happen to some of these devices. Although I am not trying to turn this into another crappy prediction thread(there are plenty of those threads around, and they all suck, and are all wrong).

Cell phone companies and palm have researched and found that people love to play dumb little games like the snake game when they have a couple seconds to wait for their license at the DMV. Games should definitely be integrated into any device that is being toted around (I think the argument is even stronger when your target audience is young and tech savvy ie iPod users).

Palm devices will naturally blend into phones because it doesn't make sense to put all of your contact info on 2 handheld devices to carry around (1 pocket size phone + 1 pocket size handheld device + my wallet + keys = very full pants)

I think the phone companies have probably done some research and found that people like the thought of being able to snap a photo any time they like. Now there are those of you that will gripe about wanting 5 megapixel pictures in ANY digicam you buy, but lets think mass market. Most people don't really realize what a megapixel is. I liken it to the games on these devices. Nobody expects to be able to play doom on these things, they just want to kill a few minutes with pacman or something. The same can probaly be assumed about the pictures. I don't want to email the family portrait to grandma through this thing, I just want to stick my tongue out at my wife and send it to her when I am away on a business trip.

My wife was elated when I bought her a palm. She was able to take a bunch of crap out of her purse (address book, dayplanner, calculator, etc.) and that made a huge difference to her. I guess the only thing I have to leave with is the question of, what kind of things do we do all the time anyway that make sense being put together? These devices aren't (very) likely to make the masses begin doing something they didn't do before. Whatever Apple does with the iPod, I think they will just do those things in a way that is easier for most people.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
I think we've lost the focus of the primer(the first paragraph of the entire thread.) We aren't trying to give specs for the device, we want to say what it does, and how much of what it does this thing will do. THIS IS A CONSUMER DEVICE. One of the tough issues is making the portable device commercially feasiblenot gonna happen with a 5 megapixel camera and >100Gb hard drive.

Only one of the posted responces remotely addresses the prompt for this thread, and even that isn't particularly thorough. Come on, focus on what matters.
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post #7 of 18
[quote]Originally posted by WhytChokolait:
<strong>I think we've lost the focus of the primer(the first paragraph of the entire thread.) We aren't trying to give specs for the device, we want to say what it does, and how much of what it does this thing will do. THIS IS A CONSUMER DEVICE. One of the tough issues is making the portable device commercially feasiblenot gonna happen with a 5 megapixel camera and &gt;100Gb hard drive.

Only one of the posted responces remotely addresses the prompt for this thread, and even that isn't particularly thorough. Come on, focus on what matters.</strong><hr></blockquote>

It has to be easily portable. It has to be something the provides at least minimal functionality when used with one hand.

It has to have enough oomph to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. You have to be able to talk on the phone an take notes. This leads to...

It has to work seamlesly with third party add-ons. I want to be able to buy an off the shelf headset, and use it with my Apple iPhonePadPod. Apple would have to embrace the standards, and play nice with them.

Do as much in software as possible. Create a phone that works with every cellular network imaginable.

Give this thing capabilities no one has seen before. With Firewire, there's nothing stopping us from exceeding the synchronization concept. Instead of just synchronizing files between a desktop/laptop and a PDA, let's make the PDA and the larger compuer equal players in a peer-to-peer network situation. I plug my iPhonePadPod into my iMac. A screen comes up that looks just like the screen on my handheld. I can now work with the device and I'm not just copying over the files, editing them on the iMac, then sending them back. Instead, I'm working directly on the handheld, which is acting as a server.

This would just be so much cleaner a way to handle such interactions between desktop/laptop and handheld, and the only thing i can imagine has been holding us back is USB.

Now, take this a step further and imagine individual handhelds being able to network together in a full-fledged peer-to-peer network. This is the killer app for handhelds, and it also, I think, would call for some rethinking about what makes a good handheld OS. Perfect opportunity for Apple to step in and not be tied to Palm or any of the other OSes that are currently out there for such devices.
post #8 of 18
It should be small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, yet have a large enough screen to be usable. It also needs to weigh as little as possible.
post #9 of 18
Sounds like the Nokia Communicator. They've been out for a while now, but I don't see many people buying them. Now there's the new Nokia 76xx or whatever, that includes a color screen, basic PDA functions, and a digital camera. There seems to be a lot of interest in this phone over here (Ireland). It's only a little more expensive than the Nokia 6310i, which I bought.
post #10 of 18


This is the walk-around device: bigger than a pda, smaller than a laptop. mp3 player off the HD. Integrate a phone with headset, put an a phone pad and small LCD on the back, and we're done.

Jet
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post #11 of 18
[quote]Originally posted by Jet Powers:
<strong>

This is the walk-around device: bigger than a pda, smaller than a laptop. mp3 player off the HD. Integrate a phone with headset, put an a phone pad and small LCD on the back, and we're done.

Jet</strong><hr></blockquote>
<img src="graemlins/oyvey.gif" border="0" alt="[No]" /> Noooo!

This type of device will never succeed in the consumer market. Its too big to fit in your pocket. Yet if it is neccessary to carry it around separately or in another bag, than it should be bigger. This is the primary reason why palm has succeeded where everyone else has failed.
post #12 of 18
I can say from plenty of experience that throwing my Newton into my bag isn't that big of a deal. Carrying my laptop around, however, is much more of a worry to me since it needs it's own case and is, of course, much more costly to replace.

I also have to carry around a cell phone which is unfortunately too bulky to fit into my pocket. So it has to sit in my bag next to the Newton.

I don't own an MP3 player but think it would be pretty cool. I was going to buy an iPod at MWNY but the guy at the Apple Store booth was so rude, I didn't get one and have sort of decided to wait and see when it gets updated again.

If Apple could make a device a little smaller than the Newton that acted as a handheld computer, wireless phone, and MP3 player, I'd be thrilled.

Personally, I think the Danger device is pretty cool, but I'd want at least a color screen for it.

I'd love to be able to browse the web on the device over the wireless connection from any place I visited as well. When a device like this is available cheaply, or the Danger device gets a color screen, I will buy it.
post #13 of 18
the danger hiptop is really cool especially for $200, but to make it do a lot of the high end features (color, movies, play and hold a lot of MP3s) would make it expensive and big. Plus if you read Tmobiles site, the hiptop come with unlimited data access, which everyone is saying is its big selling point, but the unlimited access is only for a year, after that the rates sky rocket.
post #14 of 18
A portable digital hub, About the size of an average USB Hub. It runs basic verisions of all the iApps including iSync and gets everything else to communicate via bluetooth or cables.

And it has plug in, or slide out modules, literally like a digital swiss army knife.

Andrew

And maybe uploads deadly viruses as you walk past any Windoze computers with wireless networks, this might be illegal though.
post #15 of 18
[quote]Originally posted by Fran441:
<strong>I can say from plenty of experience that throwing my Newton into my bag isn't that big of a deal. Carrying my laptop around, however, is much more of a worry to me since it needs it's own case and is, of course, much more costly to replace.
...</strong><hr></blockquote>

Unfortunately, the personal experiences of an internet forum moderator aren't very representative of consumer norms. People like you and I are perfectly OK with the hassle associated with carrying an electronic gadget that requires some form of luggage.

Most people don't want to carry luggage around on a daily basis. Even the purse is becoming less common amoung women, especially those who commute via automobile. If a device doesn't fit in a pocket, it must either be carried all day in your hand or placed in a purse, backpack, briefcase, or bag. Wearable computing is another option. However, if you're going to be using a bag to carry the device, there isn't much of a reason not to make it larger.

The inconvenience of toting around a PDA isn't linearly related to the device's size. The relationship can't even be represented with a continuous function. In layman's terms, inconvenience is approximately equal for all devices that fit in your pocket. If the device is too big for your pocket, then it is about equally convenient to carry any larger device which also fits in the same carrying location.

PDAs which are only slightly too large to fit in a pocket are doomed to failure!

(Specialized things like FedEx tablets excluded.)

[ 10-07-2002: Message edited by: dfiler ]</p>
post #16 of 18
Wanna know why people aren't flocking to the offerings available today (Nok Communicator)? While I can't speak for anyone but me the killers are

Interface to my Mac
Screen Size
Method of Input

First and formost I'm not gonna buy another digital device that I can't make use of with my Mac... End of story. As for the other two see below.

Why are so many people are wishing for a device with such a small screen? I for one don't want a 2"x3" screen... BLECH! I want a screen that's really usable.. Usable for more than the kinda crud palm already offers people.

Dave
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post #17 of 18
It seems to me that the best, most useful additional feature they could make to an iPod would be a programming interface. It wouldn't need a keyboard or any such nonsense, it could all be done via the Mac connection - but one of the best things about the Mac community is its beehive of amateur developers.

Something small and mac-like is what I want, not an apple branded device that has nothing whatsoever to do with the platform. I might buy an Apple phone because I know that a) it will look cool and b) it will actually WORK on my mac, depite the fact that c) it costs more than any of the competitors...

But I'd rather buy a pocket-sized mac with the potential for loads of groovy games and other software that Apple hasn't even thought of yet to be developed either by me or some other industrious mac fans.
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post #18 of 18
[quote]Originally posted by Socrates:
<strong>But I'd rather buy a pocket-sized mac with the potential for loads of groovy games and other software that Apple hasn't even thought of yet to be developed either by me or some other industrious mac fans.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Perhaps what you're looking for is along the lines of a "brick" computer. A complete computer, no peripherals, covered in i/o ports.
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