February 25, 2009

Smartphone Mobile Experience Progresses Nicely

A little over a year ago, when I was shopping for a laptop, I really wanted a laptop that was 4lbs or less (in the ultra-portable category) with high performance. I thought this would give me the freedom to experience mobile computing on the fly. At the time I was looking at the Sony VAIO S series as well as Dell's XPS M1330 both will cost me roughly $1800-2000 with a reasonable spec. I ended up with a 15.4" MacBook Pro because of its sheer power and graphics capability. In the back of my mind, I always thought I'd pickup an ultra portable later on.
Throughout the past year, some interesting things happened. MacBook Air, Netbooks like the Eee PC and extreme ultra portables have arrived the scene. While small, their cost and low CPU performance never made me think twice about them. Yesterday, I saw an amazing offer from Dell XPS M1330 with reasonable features for as low as $800, I still did not find myself intrigued at any of the options mentioned above. Why is that?

For one, the smartphones have really stepped up over the past year. iPhone in its current firmware version has drastically improved since its first days (albeit still lacking copy & paste function). Google G1 has arrived offering a new flavor in open source mobile experience. BlackBerry(s) have been refined including its all new touchscreen interface. Even the boring old Windows 6.1 is now sexier thanks to HTC's overlay.

But what does this mean? It means that smartphones have finally leveraged light and robust applications to carry a very focused functions which gets our job done whenever we want to: ie. check your emails or chat online via IM, look up weather conditions for local or traveling destination, get a stock quote, grab a movie review to help you decide what to rent/buy, look up side effects of a medication, check flight status, and so much more can be retrieved on your little smartphone from anyone at anytime.

I didn't bring my personal laptop on my last trip visiting friends and family to the West Coast. My iPhone managed to get me through the entire trip for all the basic computing needs. I was even playing a FaceBook game called Mob Wars over Safari in the non-mobile friendly site. To be fair, I did bring my work laptop along simply because I was in the middle of a project integration and VPN is required to access some information. Perhaps that will be the next step for smartphones. As for me, the chances of me picking up an ultraportable laptop in the near future is slim so long as my MacBook Pro is still going strong.

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