The Gadget Gap

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This week’s WSJ.com column (subscription only, I’m afraid) is about what I call The Hole — the absence of decent devices in terms of size, weight and functionality between the smartphone and the notebook. To me it’s not just about cramming everything you can into a smaller device, it’s about making something that people enjoying having with them when they’re away from their computer:  

The recent excitement about the iPhone illustrates, among other things, that we have a more emotional relationship with our gadgets than some manufacturers allow for. It’s all about an experience — the physical feel of the device, the elegance of its interface, the interaction with it. The more connected we become, the more important this will become, because those devices serve as conduits to the worlds and communities we inhabit online. The lesson? Filling the Hole means taking the lessons we’ve learned with cellphones, iPods and iPhones and applying them to devices that are a little larger, not the other way around: trying to cram our workshop tools into something smaller.

I’m a bit slow off the mark posting this, so I’ve already received some interesting mail from readers. One points me to the the Pepper Computer (pictured above), saying they covert the device because they:

Typically watch TV with the family in the evening. There are many times I want to check out email or want to follow up on something I see while watching the news, etc. Instead of lugging out the laptop plopping it on the coffee table and making it look like I’m not paying attention to the family, I thought it would be cool to just pick up a small web device and do it right there on the spot. Plus you have the convenience of it being a remote control. No remote clutter and it serves a valuable purpose earning a coveted space on the coffee table. (With high end remotes costing $500+, the Pepper Pad seems even more reasonable!)

Another, Daniel Gentleman of Tabletblog.com, points to the power of instant-on in such gadgets as Nokia’s N800:

This is why people still use the awful browsers and email clients on smartphones. They’re simply ready to work as soon as you pick them up. This feature is often overlooked yet critical in that gadget gap.

Very true, and something I’d omitted to mention in my piece.

28. July 2007 by jeremy
Categories: Devices | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 comments

Comments (5)

  1. You’re so right about the hole. I’ve been coveting the N800 ever since I heard about it.

    Good column, too — I get the print edition of WSJ but never see your column, does it appear in the Asian edition? Or buried somewhere in U.S. edition?

  2. In other words, the Palm Foleo, with its instant-on features, fills this gap exactly.

    http://www.palm.com/us/products/mobilecompanion/foleo/?creativeID=US_L_foleo

  3. Sort of. I suspect it’s too business oriented — email, word processing, doesn’t take into account the richer things we do with gadgets these days.

  4. I’ve read about the Palm Foleo, and thought it was perfect for my needs – instant-on, small enough, light enough, thin enough, though I’m not sure how compatible its operating system would be with my Windows desktop.

    It’s very niche, true, mostly for peeps in the field I’m in, but I think it would also suit business people who don’t want a converged device like the multimedia-esque N800 or iPhone, or resource-heavy Windows-based FlipStart.

    And what I’m really keen to know more about is PolymerVision and Telecom Italia’s Librofonino. wOOt!

    p/s funny you wrote abt Digital Deliverance when you did, I was thinking similarly along those lines when convo-ing with MDeC (Malaysian Development Corporation), a government-owned corporation in Malaysia!!! Couldn’t believe his response!

    Nice blog btw 🙂

  5. Cat, thanks for dropping by and good to meet you the other day.. So what the MDeC guy say?