Earlier this month I made a bold prediction that within five years we’ll see people replacing their smartphone with not another handset, but a small tablet. Voice is being supplanted by data-centric activities and we’re consuming more content than ever, so a larger, but still mobile, display will appeal. The idea is highly debatable, of course, and many commenters pointed out why they don’t see this ever happening, even though the majority of our commenters thought this scenario could become a reality.
Aside from the pocketability of a smartphone, folks simply don’t want to rely on wired or wireless headsets for their voice calls. And speakerphone conversations? Sure they work, but you lose out on privacy, since anyone nearby can hear both sides of the conversation. These are totally valid concerns, but I like thinking beyond the limitations of current mobile devices.
So I recently ordered a Bluetooth handset from Hong Kong: Samsung’s HM5000, for about $45 shipped to the U.S. This type of form factor brings the portability of traditional Bluetooth headset, but doesn’t require you to wear it on your ear. Instead, it looks like a pen, so it fits in a shirt or pants pocket; it even has a pen-like clip to help carry it. A single Talk button and a volume rocker are the only items to press.
To use the HM5000, you just tap the Talk button to answer an incoming cellular or VoIP call — the device vibrates to alert you — from a phone or tablet. The handset has a small earpiece on one end and a microphone on the other: Think of it like a very thin, small handset that looks like a gadget right out of a James Bond movie. The HM5000 supports multipoint connections so it can be paired with two different phones or tablets.
There’s no display on the HM5000, so I’ll have to look at my tablet to see who’s calling, but this is a step in the direction. Ideally, I’d like to see a small display on future handsets with this style to view caller ID information and even text messages.
Will it work effectively to allow my tablet truly replace my smartphone? On paper, I’d say yes but I’ll have to give it a solid few days of testing to see. I’ll follow up with a video look at my likes and dislikes shortly, so stay tuned.