Trends: Tiny computer or big phone?
The road to convergence is something I love to talk about. It's the meeting of several devices into one. There are many ways to reach convergence, and since it's the future, people try to convert every type of device into a do-all one. A smart phone nowadays is a combination of a phone, PDA, camera, music player and multimedia portable device. Historically, we've seen 2 trends in making smart phones. First, companies take a phone and add PDA features, to make a smart phone, such as this Nokia 6682 one. Others take a PDA, and add phone features to it, such as what Palm did with this Treo 650.
One other conversion being done a lot less is taking a laptop and shrinking it into an acceptable format to fit into a pocket, the ideal smart phone size. Some recent ones include the OQO and this newly released Flybook micro-laptop. Generally, they are built on PC hardware and are able to run normal PC applications such as Windows XP. This Flybook has 1GHz processor, 512 Megs of RAM and a 80 Gigs hard disk.
The problems with all these tiny computers is the tiny keyboard, and battery life. To run normal PC applications you can't rely on just a touch screen or a keypad, so you need to have a full keyboard, and the keys have to be tiny. Also, since a PC takes a lot of power, and you don't have the space to put a big battery in the device, the battery life is going to be aweful, with barely 1 or 2 hours of usage. The verdict on tiny computers for now is very poor, however the good news is that they are trying, and when we reach our mythical dream device, able to do everything, we'll have learnt a lot on the way there.