We head into the new year following a pretty good year in mobile tech with a lot of advancement in many areas. The first of any year is a good time to reflect on things I would like to see happen in 2005 in the area of mobile technology. You will find below a wish list of things I think would make a big impact on mobile device users, from the Tablet PC user to the PDA person. The items on my wish list are objective as these types of lists usually are and I admit some of the items are very selfish as they address specific needs I have that I would like to see addressed. So continue on for the 2005 Mobile Tech wish list and as always your comments are solicited.
1. Mini-Tablet PC. I have detailed the technical specs for a smaller Tablet PC that I think would be a very popular form factor for those who like the Tablet PC but need a smaller size for increased mobility. The Mini-Tablet would sport a ~8 inch screen and have the full capability of the larger Tablet PC with additional storage capability such as a CF slot. The smaller size would enable the Mini-Tablet to sell more cheaply than current Tablets and help those who cannot currently afford a Tablet experience the benefits a Tablet PC offers.
2. CF CDMA or EV-DO card from Verizon. OK, this is a purely selfish wish and would fill a glaring hole in my mobile capabilities. It would be a great boon for me to be able to use the Verizon NationalAccess (CDMA) or new EV-DO networks from both my Sony U and my Pocket PC without going through a cell phone. Verizon would have to supply drivers for both platforms and I think if they do this they will appeal to the growing market for UPCs.
3. Podcast extension for MP3. Podcasts are great ways to get exposed to new ideas and to keep up with tech news in general but there are few people with the time to listen to the hours and hours of content currently available. I would like to see some type of extensions for Podcast file formats that enable the Podcast creator to add meta-tags or "bookmarks" that signal when a new topic starts. This would have to work with the most common players in use and work similar to the way audio books now function. Most good audio players for the Pocket PC now handle bookmarks and it would be great if the creator could tag them for the convenience of the listener. We should be able to hit a fast forward button in our player of choice and instantly jump to the next topic.
4. Ultra-portable computers (UPCs). I hope we begin to see other UPCs this year that continue to push the envelope like the Sony U and the OQO. I can remember no other genre of device that has generated this much user excitement and at the same time offers a new mobile experience to road warriors. Hopefully we will see devices begin to appear that are cheaper yet still offer full hardware specs for the consumer. A device that fits between the dimunitive size of the OQO and the larger Sony U would be very nice.
5. Apple iTablet. I would love to see Apple come out with a Tablet PC based on OS X. My reasoning is somewhat devious- in addition to being curious what sort of Tablet Apple would release (and it would be innovative no doubt), it would also be the perfect vehicle to bring the Tablet PC concept to the masses. Apple knows how to market and I am confident they would show a lot of consumers how a Tablet can benefit them, something MS and the Tablet PC OEMs don’t seem to know how to do. It would create huge excitement in a genre that needs it desperately.
6. Apple handheld (PDA). Same reasons as the Apple Tablet above. The PDA market is currently stagnant in large part due to a total lack of advertising on the part of Microsoft, Palm, and OEMs. We need a shake-up and Apple can do it. Plus competition is always a good thing.
7. WiFi enabled portable hard drives. It makes perfect sense to me to produce a fast hard drive in a portable form that doesn’t require any cables to hook up to PDAs or UPCs. Nothing fancy here, just a HDD that talks to the device via WiFi which is fast enough for most mobile use.
8. Tablet PC with Dragon. This one is easy if not cheap. It would be very cool to see a Tablet PC that has the Dragon Naturally Speaking (DNS) technology bundled. The speech recognition in the Tablet PC 2005 is pretty good but DNS is far superior in accuracy and ease of use. With most Tablets having good noise cancellation due to array microphones DNS would be super.
9. First Palm PDA with Windows Mobile. This one could happen. Palm announced last year they were looking at offering devices with the MS Windows Mobile operating system and I hope we start seeing them this year.
This list is not intended to fit everyone’s wishes nor is it all encompassing. This simply represents the things I think would make the tools I use better. Let me know what you would like to see in 2005.