Smartphones Killed the PDA Star (and more)

I saw you back in Comdex in 83 – You were a exciting new technology – a marvel to me with a touchscreen.

Ohhhh, ohhh

But times have changed and you are now put to the side – the integration with the phone makes it real nice – and you get tossed in the scrap pile to die.

Ohhh, ohhh

I used your applications

ohhh, ohhh

And all your revelations….


I did have a PDA. I had a few of them. Palm, iPaq, Axim and a host of others. However, 2 years ago I got my first Smartphone. That pretty much put my last PDA to the side.

Earlier in the week I read the article “5 things the Smartphone Killed“. While I am not in total agreeance of the list just yet, I do agree on a lot of their items and I can see the Smartphone can totally engulf all the item replacements.

PDA – The Smartphone is based on PDA technology. Being able to run applications and do work anywhere via your phone and either a wireless, EDGE or 3G network. You could even connect up to your company, pull up that spreadsheet, make changes and save it back to the network. Heck – I’ve even remoted and rebooted a computer from my Smartphone.

MP3 – This is the first item that I don’t totally in agree on just yet. I have a separate MP3 player and the reason why is simple: I can plug a set of standard headphones into it. For me to listen through my phone with comfortable headphones, I have to use an adapter plug which I do have, but it gets in the way when I use it.

I expect that headphone technology will require us to go past the conventional “Headphone Jack”. Believe it or not, headphones are getting better, too. New technologies of headphone drivers to separate the Bass, Mids and treble, so there will be a point where the headphones will need more than just a 1/4″ jack to drive them. Some Smartphones use the USB port for the headphones. That would be a great standard – but it should be across the board. I don’t want to go to WalMart and find the set of headphones doesn’t work with my player.

Calculator – I remember my first scientific calculator – It cost $250. I could sine, cosine, find the square root and do a lot of cool mathematical functions. I haven’t needed to do those since classes I took in High School and College. However, if I do need to make those calculations, it’s good to know I can download an application and run it on my Smartphone.

I will even choose the calculator on my Smartphone over the calculator on my computer. The touchpad makes it easier. I want to get the number and go – but I will always try to calculate the numbers in my head first.

Camera – I think Smartphones’ technology is far from replacing this right now. I still want a Optical zoom as oppose to a digital.  This makes a difference on a good picture vs. a dark one.

Another issue is a flash. Some Smartphones don’t have a flash. Some do, but it’s really not that powerful. If you look at a professional camera, you notice the flash actually is not on the camera. That is because the closer the flash to the lens, the more the flash can interfere with the picture. Therefore, the closer to the lens, the less powerful the flash can be so it doesn’t wash out the picture.

I am not asking for high quality. If you have a camera above 5 Megapixel, you better have a decent quality for darker shots. After all, isn’t a High Quality Grain an Oxymoron?

UMPC – I don’t agree with this at all. UMPC’s have a niche in the market – smaller than a laptop and larger than a smartphone. A 2 hand keyboard and at least a 7″ screen are two things a smartphone cannot compete with.

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There are a few other items I can see a smartphone replace. I have also been looking at technology that could soon BE in a Smartphone. Here is what I would add:

Projector – There is a company out there that has a small projector that might not power large, high definition content just yet, but you might be able to project your screen on a wall for a 2 minute presentation.

Reader – The Kindle has not taken off in the direction expected. It’s not totally dead yet and a lot of people would have to warm up to the idea, but with the idea of a projector, you might be able to replace the reader in certain situations. I could see myself projecting a book on the ceiling of my bedroom and read a chapter before going to bed.

Of course, otherwise the Smartphone screen would be too small to read a regular book. It would get too annoying to flip and scroll. While Smartphones will take away a small portion from e-readers, it couldn’t take it completely away.

Keys, Wallet, Business Card – A few months ago we reacted to an article about how a phone is more important. At that time I went one step further in suggesting an ID could become electronic: The ID would be projected by the cell company via the State issued for security – the ID then would be beamed into a receiver which would confirm identification.

Keys would be quicker to accomplish ditching. You could easily configure a house electronically. The Smartphone would access the Internet, then tell the Smarthouse to lock or unlock the doors. Of course, have a good backup if your phone dies….

I have beamed many cards from PDA to PDA. I still like the idea of having a physical business card, but the one thing I don’t like is if the person changes credentials, the card becomes no good. Could you imagine a card that updated when a person moved to a new location, changed a phone number or even changed jobs or professions?

Alarm Clock – I haven’t turned on my clock in over a year. If I need alerts, I will set up the phone to do so. It works even better at a hotel where I get confused over their alarm clocks anyway. I just unplug the clock completely. I usually need the plug socket for something else, like my phone charger.

Remote Control – Do I have the TV remote or the DVR remote? With a Smartphone, you may never have the problem of searching the sofa cushions for the lost remote. It’s better than a “Universal remote” because you can call up the specific model remote and have all the buttons that remote would.

Game Systems – Apple and their “Accelerometer” technology allows the phone to not need a joystick. Then again, you might have a harder time playing a game on a boat or airplane. Still, the App. store has a lot of great games that could easily replace the PSP or Nintendo DS.

The Smartphone can take over a lot more. Like I stated before, audio connection usually needs an adapter for use. Here is what I would add to a Smartphone to make it more useful and replace more items.

USB 3.0? – I am hoping once the specification comes standard, it can not only create a smaller cable connection but also be adaptable for Smartphones pretty quick. Not only would that create faster connection between phone and computer, it could be a universal connection to many different items.

The USB connection on my phone right now allows me to connect and charge the phone. USB to projectors, other phones, PSP’s and many other items to communicate would make it the central hub for everything. You might even be able to connect the Smartphone to a dock that connects to a monitor, keyboard and mouse.

SSD – Solid State Drives are not the Hard drive killer just yet, but their low power and heat could really propel a Smartphone to a new level. You could easily make your Smartphone into a external Hard Drive with a 64 GB or larger SSD card in it.

Bluetooth – Yes, phones have Bluetooth already, but even the average IT pro doesn’t utilize the technology to it’s potential. Some try to compare Bluetooth to wireless, but I think Bluetooth should redirect the other way.

Right now Bluetooth has a small range of 30 to 300 feet to connect Class 3 devices. The limited range can be an advantage because it doesn’t interfere with other signals. Have you ever walked through a store with your Bluetooth reciever on your ear, then hear a beep from the reciever simply because there might be a conflicting signal? Well, if you can limit the range on your Bluetooth to say 5-10 feet, that might be less likely to happen.

I don’t think a Smartphone will replace a computer just yet. There is still a big issue about loosing a phone easier than a computer. However I can see the majority of people in as little as 2 years rely on their Smartphone more than other items. After all, anything you can have on your person will be used more than something you have to find, or sit down in a specific location for.

So the real term is Video Killed the PDA, Calculator and more stars…

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