I have a confession to make. For the last three years or so, since the launch of the iPhone, I have been a staunch supporter of a dwindling resistance, rallying against the rapid proliferation of the touch screen slab. At times I have felt like a bit of a lone ranger, and in the last nine months or so, it has become apparent that indeed the resistance has been crushed. Being a bit of a technophile, I should have been first in line lapping up these wonders of innovation. To understand where I was coming from we need to think back to the late nineties and early noughties, and the end of the era of the ‘brick’. There was a pleasing general trend of a reduced form factor, even as the amount of technology going into these things was increasing. Being a bit on the small side myself, this was something that suited me just fine. The sheer scale of reductionism was mind boggling, and it resulted in devices that were advanced yet compact and pocket friendly. I still remember my Nokia 8210 very fondly and more recently the phenomenal N95 and the updated N95 8GB were mind-blowing and from experience, can still hold their own in 2010.
In my perfect world there would be one device to rule them all, and the N95 andN95 8GB were the first truly converged mobile devices with a simply staggering feature list. Many new cell phones these days certainly harbour such pretensions. My trusty old bruised and battered Nokia 6710 Navigator, the foot soldier and a bit of a simpleton, at the moment serves as my primary email client, web browser, diary, contacts manager, task manager, music player, alarm clock, GPS unit, camera (over 500 photos taken in the last 12 months), digital wallet and safe, flash drive and in desperate times it also serves as a modem. All the while, the traditional phone features like call quality and reception are superlative. This is what I look for in a mobile device, a convergence of functions, all wrapped up in a neat durable and portable package.
The spectre of the touch screen slabs looms large however. These days, the mobile internet age is dominant, social networking is entrenched, mobile gaming is well advanced and media consumption is simply a must. It’s all about big screens, prodding, flicking and pinching. It’s all about the fast processors; GPUs, oodles of RAM, massive hard drives, and hi-resolution displays. And it seems that contrary to the trend earlier in the century, with innovation, bigger is better, much bettter! And indeed in the domain of the touch screen slab is where much of the action is taking place in the mobile sphere. And as such I have relented. I fully expect my next device to be a giant touch screen slab.
Luckily then for the next two weeks or so, thanks to Nokia South Africa, I will be putting my trusty foot soldier aside (save for a few side by side comparisons), and will be exclusively using Nokia’s latest full touch multimedia monster, the N8. I dare say I have become very set in my ways, and I will be looking to see if the N8 can fully replace my current device. The N8 must be able to fulfil most of the requirements set out above, and hopefully improve on the usability, while introducing new features I never knew I needed. How will it fair, or more importantly how will I fair? Will the N8 step up to plate or will I long for a return to a good old fashioned old school key pad and trusty T9? Grab a coffee and please peruse the reading list on the left at your leisure.