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Ode to the Smartphone

Smartphone: 'A smartphone is a mobile phone offering advanced capabilities beyond a typical mobile phone, often with PC-like functionality' - wikipedia

When simply dialing a number and talking to people just isn't enough, you can always count on your smartphone to fill many other needs. Send text messages, read and write emails, buy movie tickets online, check weather & sports scores, snap photos, manage your calendar and contacts, play games... You can do those things and much more, all while having your spouse complain about being neglected. 'But', you should remark to them, 'Could you offer me such a wide array of functions on demand?'

For the first time ever, I finally feel like I have the perfect smartphone device which not only meets all of my rabid technological needs, but is extremely functional and ergonomic. I was first introduced to the concept of a smartphone when my buddy touted the original T-Mobile Sidekick (Color Version) back in 2003. Back then I was just a regular cell phone user, the only practical functions available to me were voice calls and text messaging (and let's not forget that super robust version of text based mobile web). Seeing this device made me more excited than when I picked up Verizon's first ever color cell phone a few years earlier. I decided that I absolutely needed one, so I went out the next day and set up a second cell phone contract with T-Mobile specifically to use that device for internet and chat.

Then T-Mobile came out with the Sidekick II, which offered some functional and design improvements. Of course I had to upgrade. Using such devices was extremely appealing for me. They enabled me to use a slide-out keyboard to send text messages faster than all of my friends, not to mention surf real web sites from just about anywhere. Clothes shopping with my girlfriend suddenly became fun. Sitting in the designated 'male' waiting areas in these stores earned me much envy and respect. Despite the fact that those female-centric retail meccas fail to offer us men any amenities to pass the time (while our women try on 10 different versions of the same top), my dilemma was no longer a matter of boredom like the other guys - For me it was having to stop surfing the net and chatting online with my palm sized companion when she was finally done. It was a win-win for everyone.

While the Sidekick devices were great and served a lot of my needs, I had several gripes: Having to carry around a regular phone for talking (with my original Verizon Wireless number), a relatively slow internet connection, and the lack of decent T-Mobile reception in my area. Not too long after I started using the Sidekick II, a security consultant for the company I was working at brandished his newest gadget: The Audiovox XV6600 for Verizon Wireless. Not only did this smartphone offer internet access like my Sidekick II, it accessed the web at broadband speeds (through Verizon's revolutionary EV-DO platform). Furthermore, the XV6600 had a slide-out keyboard, it ran Windows Mobile, and it had a touch screen. And since my primary cell phone was with Verizon Wireless to begin with, it offered me a chance to carry around a consolidated device for both a regular cell phone and an internet smartphone.

The XV6600 was the beginning of my love affair with Windows Mobile. I came to appreciate these devices because they could sync data with my regular PC and they offered that familiar Windows look and feel that I had come to appreciate. I even found a way to rig the device to be used as a USB modem. That allowed me to take the company laptop and connect to the internet from a park bench. Naturally, when Verizon came out with the XV6700 (the next-gen version of the XV6600), I had to get one. It offered a few performance improvements over its predecessor, looked cleaner, and ran a newer version of Windows Mobile.

Around that time Verizon started to offer a few other smartphone devices, but they were all lacking for me in a couple of areas. Either they did not run Windows Mobile (they had Palm OS or Blackberry's interface), or the device was not a touch screen. But despite my thorough enjoyment of these Windows Mobile touch screen devices, I realized the impossibility of safely driving while attempting to dial a phone number. There were no raised keys for dialing numbers without looking. It was too easy to 'fat finger' the wrong option if you weren't using the stylus. Also, the devices did not offer a voice dialing option unless you wanted to purchase an additional piece of software for Windows Mobile. So, for a couple of years I longed for the perfect smartphone which met all of my demands:

Broadband internet, slide-out keyboard, large sized vivid color touch screen, windows mobile, wi-fi capable, bluetooth, camera, speaker phone, voice recognition, numeric pad on front for dialing, all in a compact design.

Enter the Samsung SCH-i760 (i760 for short) from Verizon Wireless.

Samsung i760

Among Verizon's newest devices (which offer part but not all of my wishlist of features above), comes this handy gem. It's as though the universe designed this device with me in mind. With their other high-end devices coming out this month (LG's Voyager modeled after the iPhone, XV6800 successor of the XV6700), Verizon Wireless avoided making much fuss about their Samsung i760. In fact, the only reason I discovered it was due to my frequent ritual of returning to their web site to see if new phones were out yet. I managed to pick it up the day before its official street launch.

Why Verizon is keeping this device so hush hush is beyond me. Like I said before, all of their other devices lack one or more of the features I listed above. So why not push the hell out of this one? I wonder if there are any states or inconspicuous countries out there which would allow you to legally marry an electronic device? Probably not a good idea though, as I'm sure in 2 more years there will be something even better out, and the divorce could get ugly...

Friday, November 9 2007 10:54:09 AM in Gadgetry

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