As the owner of a Tapwave Zodiac, I’m pretty far behind the curve (or way ahead, depending on how you look at it) with regard to PDA/handheld/UMPC/convergent device development. I love these gadgets, mind you, but the last time I went to buy one I found such a dearth of Palm OS devices (you can have a LifeDrive, or a Treo, or, um, a different Treo, or, um . . .) that I got depressed and kind of gave up.
So anyway, I didn’t hear about the whole Origami thing until someone on Tapland mentioned it in passing, as it were. (Us Zodiac folks are always on the lookout for handheld devices with decent graphics, you see.) That, combined with a need to get my wife a new cell phone, sent me out looking at the market for convergent devices, SmartPhones, UMPCs, and the like.
As everyone reading this blog probably knows–hey, I said I was behind the curve–there’s an awful lot of overlap in these devices. There are smartphones with 4″, full VGA screens that run Windows Mobile 5; there are PDAs that have Bluetooth and WiFi built-in, but don’t have cell phone capability; there are UMPCs that (it seems to me) might as well be really expensive PDAs with slide-out keyboards. Or even without slide-out keyboards. And on and on.
Eventually I got a little frustrated, because I had some very specific ideas on what I was looking for (screens of a certain size and resolution; a certain amount of processing power and RAM; a certain amount of battery life; etc.), but every site that I went to–be it Carrypad, or Engadget, or The Gadgeteer, or Dynamism (a great site, and thanks to Julie of The Gadgeteer for mentioning it!) or C|Net or what have you–had a slightly different focus, presented a slightly different list of specs, and never seemed to have enough data to give me the ability to make an apples-to-apples comparison of devices.
Now, I realize that in some ways it is inherently ridiculous to compare, say, the Asus R2H to the Tapwave Zodiac. On the other hand, I am looking for a device that fulfills the same basic set of requirements for my personal use. I want to read eBooks, preferably one-handed; that implies certain weight restrictions, the capability for one-handed operation, a certain minimum screen size, resolution, and brightness, and so on. I like to rip DVDs and watch them on my device; that again implies a certain minimum screen size, resolution, and brightness, a certain minimum processor speed and/or the existence of a second graphics processor, and that sort of thing. I enjoy web surfing on my device; again there are screen issues, and now we have WiFi or 3G/GPRS capability, and the like. That is my list.
Yours is going to be different. (Though it’s clear Microsoft is hoping there’s enough overlap in everyone’s requirements that the Origami machines sell, of course!)
So what I ended up doing was creating a list of the specs that are important to me, and then pulled those specs for several devices from my Zodiac up to the R2H out of the various web sites. Based on that, I also created specs for a “dream machine” for myself, which is probably just a chimerical as world peace, but gives me pleasure to contemplate even so.
I invite other folks to suggest gizmos to add to the list. My only caveat: if it’s too big for Judie’s hand, it ain’t going to work. So anything bigger than an R2H I would consider right out. But boy, I’d love to find that “dream machine.”
Added 11/01/06: Noticed last night onthat Samsung has released an updated version of the Q1–imaginatively named the “Q1b;” way to go, Samsung!–that makes it a machine comparable to the Asus R2H in a lot of ways. It’s cheaper, lighter, and it has a faster processor now; could be an interesting device (still too big for *me*, but we know how picky *I* am). So I went ahead and added it to the spreadsheet, and attached it for ya.
Download Doug’s comparison list here: gizmos_with_edits.xls