Do you Carry a Torch?

This latest entry into the pantheon of Blackberries (the Torch 9800) is a little on the lacking side, for what it is. It isn’t as powerful as the Focus or the iPhone (either of them), and it doesn’t even rock as lovely a display or as big of a hard drive, either. What it does have in spades is… well, nothing, really. The battery is not really what most people want in a smartphone these days, as it just does not last all that long. Maybe if you were able to get one for free this would be a good deal. But in its current form, most of what this new Blackberry has going for it is the fact that it looks very nice- never underestimate the power of eye candy.

There is just something about phones where a set of buttons pop out of the bottom. It is almost like watching a very short magic show, when the keys come out and you can just type away. The Blackberry features a full QWERTY keyboard (albeit a rather small one), so you won’t ever have any problem finding which key you want, if you are used to typing normally. So when you whip out your Blackberry (because you know you’ll buy one just because it looks good) and the keyboard swings out, people are going to marvel at it. And they will also marvel at how easily you can browse the Net and read e-mails, because of the pinch zooming capabilities the Blackberry brings to bear. If you like easy navigation, this might actually be the smartphone for you, in spite of its limitations. Although it might be nicer if they’d dropped the trackpad.

Of course, this is not really the phone for long conversations. At 330 minutes of talking time or 432 hours of idle time, it’s okay. But it doesn’t compare to most of the other smart phones out on the market today.

Do you Desire an HTC?

HTC Desire
Image via Wikipedia

If you are all about the bells and whistles that most smartphones promise, the HTC Desire might not impress you all that much. But if, however, you want a great phone that has some neat applications to it, you might find that little hottie is worth the time to woo. You can download files from your company directory, which ought to save you a lot of time. The display on the Desire is almost as big as that of the Droid X (and definitely bigger than that of the iPhone 4). And in addition to being extremely fast, it also features a decent QWERTY keyboard (albeit with only four levels of keys) that pops right out of the bottom.

HTC Sense is a great little component of the Desire which allows you to share and download various bits of information from directories. If your company directory has contacts you need to download, you can do so immediately. As well, calendar events are a breeze to take down, without having to manually key enter anything. And when you couple that with the ability to download e-mails, images and videos, you have a very robust resource for keeping things firmly together in your day to day life. You can even switch out between different applications (such as the Internet, e-mail and your contact list) just by pinching the screen (it isn’t sexual harassment, because it’s your phone).

However, the Desire is not a perfect device, even with its Snapdragon processor. There is the issue that the keyboard is a little on the smallish side, which can complicate typing up lengthy messages. If you are used to a regular keyboard’s 3 rows, the 4 can throw you off a little bit, as well. Another issue is the complete lack of video calling, something a lot of smartphone users have grown accustomed to having in the same way as we expect indoor plumbing. But the Desire is still nice.

Droid Incredible: Yeah, it Really Is

If you have been thinking of picking up a new smartphone (and really, who isn’t?), the Droid Incredible might be a good option for you. It has one flaw in its rather anemic battery life, but other than that it is a truly solid entry into the smartphone war that is raging across our modern world. The design is a trifle on the clunky side, and even though the camera is nice it is hardly a world beater. Overall, though, the Droid Incredible is a very solid, great piece of technology, in spite of the fact that there are a few issues related to general convenience and battery life. Just be advised that if you want fast, the Incredible will give you fast in abundance.

The Incredible gives you a decent amount of talking time, at 5 hours. This is pretty good, unless you really like to talk and hate to tether yourself to a wall to charge up while you do so. However, the Incredible falls well short of everybody else in the smartphone pack when you check out its standby time- 146 hours. Even the iPhone, with all of its fancy features, dwarfs the Incredible’s idle battery time. There is also the small issue of one feature (the built in FM radio) requiring headphones to listen to. If you can overcome these two problems (and the fact that the phone does feel a little odd in the hand) and still defend the Incredible, it might be the one for you.

The Incredible features Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor, which is one of the fastest in smartphones today. If you want something done quickly, you will not be disappointed. Also, you can install up to a 32GB sdcard, so as to take the Incredible’s level of memory into the stratosphere. You either need a lot of music, a lot of videos or a whole lot of friends’ numbers to need that much storage space on there.

4G Networks: Almost There

If you have seen phones such as the HTC EVO 4G, you have no doubt noticed that 3G is the industry standard right now. But just like out houses and black and white TVs with rabbit ear antennas, industry standards in smart phones have been changing rapidly lately. For one thing, this 4G stuff is slowly but certainly beginning to take over our nation. And unlike a terrorist plot or a James Bond villain, this is going to be successful and good for us in the end. Of course, it isn’t exactly moving along at a brisk pace- changes can be very slow, and unless you are a part of a major metropolitan area that has 4G, this is something of a tease for the time being.

The world is changing in a lot of neat ways. Among these ways is our ability to find all kinds of powerful functions online, using nothing but our phones. 3G has exposed us to a lot of Internet functionality, like the ability to send messages in all sorts of ways, and play more games than you could master in a lifetime. But with 4G, we will have even more of what we like. The Internet is getting faster for phone users- no longer do you have to wait five whole seconds for your site to load, like something out of the early 90s! You want it now!

And we can all sit on the edge of our seats, thinking about how great it will be when 4G finally reaches all across the country. For right this second, it’s a little bit of a pipe dream, since most of the country is not yet bathed in the warm and wonderful glow of 4G. For the time being, we must all bide our time with 3G, hoping for our beloved upgrade to come and lift us out of this relatively primitive lifestyle we are still forced to lead right now.

The Samsung Focus: Pretty Sweet

Microsoft’s Phone 7 operating system is changing the way people use their smartphones. While every smartphone that comes out today has a lot of impressive features (and having a gorgeous screen is just the price of admission), Microsoft has seriously outdone itself in this regard. As well as featuring the new hub feature (which organizes everything around certain topics), you also have the ability to create and edit word and excel documents right on your phone. Couple that with the ability to edit and view powerpoint presentations, and you have a serious contender here. While the hardware is not quite at the iPhone level, the overall package on the software side is truly a thing of beauty, no matter how you slice it.

If you have never heard of the Office Hub, you will soon enough. And then you will inevitably grow to love it, as it takes everything you like about Microsoft Office, and makes it incredibly portable. Now you can whip out your phone, and put together a spreadsheet wherever you are- a childhood dream come true, most definitely. And if you want to check out a powerpoint presentation, you can do that as well. They even have a new feature called OneNote Mobile, which allows you to record messages and put together quick lists, memos and whatnot. With this capability, you can even attach images to messages, to jog your memory later on.

The Focus also has both an 5 megapixel camera and a 720p HD video camera in it. While those things are great, they wouldn’t be so awesome if not for the fact that the screen is near the top of the current heap, boasting 480 x 800 pixels on only a little over 4 inches across. You can indulge your inner film maker and show Big Hollywood who has the real goods. Or you can just take the next great viral video of someone falling over, epic fail style.

The iPhone 4: Wow

iPad, iPhone, MacBook Pro
Image via Wikipedia

Apple just does not do anything halfway, do they? When Apple says they are coming out with a great new piece of technology, they come out with a bang, even when Mr. Jobs steps off the stage to the roaring applause of people he has made rich. And the iPhone 4 is no exception to this universal rule. It boasts the most impressive screen to ever be featured on a phone, as well as a host of other high end features. Simply put, there is absolutely no other phone on the market today which can compare to what Apple has produced this time. But of course, this is the kind of article where it will probably be true ten years from now, if we just change it to the iPhone 20, or something.

Most phones these days have a camera on them. Some high end phones have 3 megapixels or more in resolution. Well, this is the iPhone, so it has two cameras. And one of those cameras is not only 5 megapixels (that’s 5 million pixels, or a pretty big image). It also have a 5x digital zoom. So it doesn’t really matter how much you want to see of the image- it will enter the camera at a quality level that could be used as evidence very easily. But that isn’t all.

Once you have an image on the iPhone 4, you can see it better than any camera on planet Earth. With a set of pixels 78 microns wide, they squeezed in 326 pixels per inch on this bad boy’s screen. If you want to see something and it’s there, you will see it (unless you’re blind, or have your eyes closed). Couple that with the fact that you can now video call people (which could be bad if you just got out of the shower or something), and the iPhone 4 is the best thing to ever happen to smartphones today.

How Much Portability do we Really Need?

It is nice to be able to carry around what used to require an entire office in your pocket or in a small bag. Where there used to be a time when communications, the preparation and distribution of reports and the organization of schedules were the domain of an entire group of workers, now it can all be done by one or two of the right pieces of technology. And for this, the world is so grateful that it has become downright dependent on the capacity to carry around that which used to be grounded to one spot. If it ever came to pass that all of these 3g and 4g networks came to a screeching halt, a whole lot of people would find themselves doing badly in a hurry.

After all, it was not even that long ago when laptops were little more than just an extra bit of baggage, designed to allow you to play minesweeper in between writing reports that it is very possible that no one would ever read. Nowadays, as our nation’s air spaces are criss crossed by a massive wireless network, you can do almost anything from your laptop in an airplane that you could do in your actual, physical office… as if anybody besides the custodian actually needs to go to those primitive old things anymore.

You can transfer very, very large files and data with FTP programs like the one available for free on the FileZilla Server. You can watch free video and streaming television with you Windows Media player.  And there is much more you can do easily that would have been unheard of before.

In our modern world, laptops are even seem as something of an “old hat” legacy device. While they are now as powerful as desktop tower PCs, they have largely been eclipsed from a functional standpoint by the smart phones and the tablet PCs of the world. Why would you carry around a clumsy old laptop, when you can simply reach into your pocket and whip out a sleek, ultra modern smart phone that can do at least half of the functions (and if you believe the ads, all of the important ones)? But what ever happened to just sleeping on a flight?

How Important are Mobile Devices?

How did the world ever get by before we had all of these beautiful technological thingamajigs? That is the kind of question that people would ask, if they were introspective enough and attentive enough to history to remember that at one point, high technology was the ability to use a calculator. If you are old enough to remember when calculators were big and somewhat expensive, then you remember when there was no Internet to tell us anything we could ever possibly want to know about any topic known to human kind. There was actually a point, not so long ago, when one might have to go to a library to learn something that was not common knowledge.

But the situation has only coddled us more in recent years. At one point (which does not even seem like all that long ago), one had to actually find a computer that had the Internet (which many did not, back in those days), and endure a bizarre symphony of phone related noises in order to find information. Nowadays, smart phones, Kindles and iPads have pretty much taken away the need to go anywhere to find information. Nowadays, information will happily come right to your fingertips. But how important is it really to have all of this information be so easily available?

If you consider that some of the greatest achievements that humanity has ever made were done without computers (or with computers which are the size of small houses), it becomes fairly obvious that we really do not need to have mobile devices in order to get a lot of things done. We act as though our cell phones are essential to our survival, but many of us did not carry them when we were kids (and were most likely to be absconded with). We seemed to muddle through a life, somehow. We need to escape from the belief that mobile devices are so critical. They are not.