Mobile Technology's Near Misses
Smartphones and lightning-fast tablets. We take then for granted nowadays. With their multi-core processors, generous memory specs, and seemingly endless variety of apps, the concept of a network-connected, hand-held mobile computer certainly isn't new. Years ago, I reported on several cutting-edge wireless devices that were truly ahead of their time. For example, the Linux-powered Nokia 770 hand-held, circa 2006. This little gem sported a screaming 200 MHz ARM processor, 802.11b enabled WiFi, and an 800 x 480 LCD display. Nokia thought they could capture the market with a Linux operating system clone and community application development model. Ari Jaaksi, the 770's development director loaned me one for a review. In spite of the enthusiasm in the market, I don't think they ever sold very many of them. Does anybody remember the HP 3715 Mobile Media Companion? Purchasing one of these $500+ pocket rockets was only possible through a series of articles, I wrote, on how to integrate the thing with a Linux infrastructure. I thought for sure, that this little personal data assistant (PDA) had a bright future. It had good sound card capabilities and could record .wav files with a tiny microphone. It had an 8-hour battery life and a color 320 x 240, touch-screen display that switched between landscape and portrait modes. 152 MB was surely more than enough on-board memory and a full-sized SD memory card slot rounded out the storage package. It also had a 1.2 mega-pixel camera and took very clear pictures. The original 2 GB SD card still has photos from 2005 on it. It's nearly identical in size (well, about twice the thickness) of my current Samsung Galaxy S smart phone. I remember thinking how cool it was to be able to go to Panera Bread and look things up on this tiny little electronic marvel. Alas, the Windows Mobile-based wonder never really caught on. I don't think I've ever seen another one in the wild.