Smart Phones – a serious contender for everyday productivity & learning..?

Small is beautiful! But is it really practical?

I rely on being connected with access to my key apps, communication tools and unlimited supply of information – increasingly location specific. I’m also (slowly) trying to reduce the amount of stuff and clutter that I have, both at home and when out and about. I’ll always aspire to the minimalist way of life but acknowledge that this will never be a reality ūüėČ

So, if it is a given that the ‘manbag’ is now as acceptable as the male handbag in our¬†cosmopolitan¬†existence, then this is a good starting point for stuff limitation.

Indiana Jones with his Manbag

Indiana Jones with his Manbag

My starting point back in 2006 was a manbag capable of housing a Samsung Q1, mobile phone and wallet. Although smaller than a standard laptop bag, with dimensions to support a 15-17″ device, my look was bulky and still reasonably weighty. I could link the mobile phone up to the Q1 to get a vague shot at internet access – the phone, a Samsung D400, alone was a no hoper on the web and apps front despite being the latest and supposedly greatest at the time.

Samsung Q1 and D400

Samsung Q1 and D400

And ultimately, the Q1 was not a heap better. The screen resolution was just not up to scratch and the battery life, although good compared to your standard laptops of the time, barely managed a couple of hours after a year’s regular use.As soon as it was possible for me to do so, I had moved back to a laptop – a Dell 430 which was about as small as I deemed practically feasible at the time. In the mobile stakes it proved pretty useless after a short while with dreadful battery life the main problem. Didn’t fit the manbag either!

Dell D430

Dell D430

Then came the Samsung NC10. Ultra mobile perfection when it arrived and still holds its own today! A usable screen, keyboard and awesome battery life that has not seemingly diminished in over 2 years of use! Plenty of connectivity options to boot and extremely well built. I firmly believe that the NC10 and its successors and imitators are currently the only way to go in the classroom, mobile working and just plain old social-wise.

Samsung NC10

Samsung NC10

And now comes the SMART phone. And I say now despite the existence of this marketplace for quite some time. It is really only over the past few years that these devices have become a practical mobile alternative to supporting short burst communication and productivity tasks. I started with the Blackberry Bold 9000… I wasn’t ready for touch screen and found the excellent keyboard and¬†track-pad¬†reassuring and¬†surprisingly¬†nimble to use. So, here I was in a position to downsize the manbag – well most of the time – email was a doddle, Facebook kept me socially connected and a decent web browser teamed with manageable screen size and GPS gave me access to most of the info that I needed most of the time. Battery life was also good enough – I’m quite happy for the overnight charging routine! Where the Bold fell down at the time was around the apps available and their true ease of use within the screen real estate and keyboard navigation.

iPhone 4_& HTC Desire

iPhone 4 & HTC Desire

With great trepidation (for me anyway), I took the slightly more expensive plunge for the iPhone 4… The closest competition seemed to be the HTC Desire with Google Android OS. Reviews suggested that there was little between the two; the main being that the iPhone just worked, was intuitive and had the best wealth and integration of apps. The Android OS gives you more geek factor in terms of getting under the bonnet.

I’m hooked! I can’t say that the iPhone replaces my little Samsung NC10. But it’s a 40/60 % split in use between the two. The iPhone is spot on for short tasks like viewing and small edits with Google Apps and other office tools. ¬†I’m posting on WordPress, Twitter and Facebook. Photo stuff is a breeze with Flickr and Facebook. Dropbox and ZumoDrive keep everything stored and synchronised. And that’s without the many, many other apps that float my boat! Internet access with location services, music, talking and so on is all without effort – and I can go on a bit on the talking front! The option to pinch and zoom and switch between portrait and landscape at the flick of a wrist makes for a strong case for the size being really practical. Battery life still fits with the overnight charge regime and that’s despite comparatively¬†far greater use.

More time spent with some of the apps that could be relevant to education is now needed to round this article off!

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