Seeking Convergence

This week the Consumer Electronics Show is in Las Vegas and the dazzling new gadgets will fill web pages and newspapers for days to come and then, later this week, all eyes will turn to MacWorld and the latest doodads from Apple.

Within the next year or so, many of the items being ballyhooed this week will seep into stores and be available mere mortals like you and me to purchase. The question, though, is do we need it all?

One of the headlines this morning was about Verizon introducing a 2” screen for a phone to allow a better image for their V-cast video, now with expanded programming options. Now, to me, 2” is too damned small to see anything but the phone number I’m dialing or the text message I’m receiving. To date, nothing offered as a cell phone video has once enticed me to consider upgrading my phone and paying an extra monthly fee.

Could it be that I’ve crossed that line that divides generations and I’m now “old”? To me, cell phones are communications tools not portable entertainment centers. No review I’ve read has made any single phone worth purchasing just for its audio or video capabilities. If I want portable music, nothing seems to be the iPod for fidelity, storage and ease of use (and even their screens are too damned small to watch a TV episode).

All along, I’ve been waiting for some form of convergence where a nifty portable eBook reader and PDA would solve some issues. I saw a Sony unit that came really close but was way too expensive. Additionally, while I could download books to the unit, I still can’t download magazines with their color photography. Nor can these run any sort of video even though the screen size is a lot more palatable for use personal use away from home.

My impression is that the electronics manufacturers are trying to make the simple cell phone do too much and are asking for too much money for the services. Instead, they need to be addressing larger issues that require more versatile all-in-one devices at a size that makes sense.

Discuss.

4 comments

  • No, you’re not old, Bob. I’m 25 and even I think that all a cell phone needs to do is get good reception and hold a decent battery charge. (Though, to be honest, I may be an atypical case, since I still resist cameraphones.)

    I think you’re right; manufacturers are trying to cram more existing features into existing products, but only the truly revolutionary items have impact and stick around, like the iPod. I know that Apple is banking on iTV to revolutionize the entire home entertainment experience… but we’ll see if that works.

    I still don’t even have an iPod. Maybe I am a really bad example.

    -Andy Holman

  • Paul Balze

    My cell phone is almost five years old and doesn’t even have a color screen. I guess I’m in the “good reception/decent battery charge” camp.

  • Bob Ahrens

    My best vehicle is a 1988 Jeep Cherokee with 200,000 miles on it.I’ve STILL got my Atari 2600 , Texas Instruments TI-99-4A, Commodore 64, TRS-80, Atari 800, IBM Aptiva and a Dell Pentium III that runs Windows 95. Proudly. My stereo is a “non” remote-able Pioneer 400 watt receiver, and yes, I still have a turntable and my vinyl collection….my TV does not have Dolby Surround. I just now managed to get a CORDLESS phone in the house. I like Sci-Fi modeling…. not the 3-D rendering kind, but the glue and paint kind…
    and I refuse- REFUSE- to get on the I-POD wagon.
    You know how long it’s taken to get CD copies of all that vinyl I have at home?

  • Steve D.

    I told my kid how about the first computers we saw back in JJHS. You typed in a message and waited hours on that old paper9 can’t rememeber what it’s called) for a printout.
    In school , in history, the teacher showed he class what a record player is. He had never seen one. We’re not old Bob,we’ve become”practical”