Thursday, January 28, 2010

More on Cell Phones

As long term readers know, I've long been in search of a better pocket computer/web browser/cell phone. Recent developments:

1. I spent some time with a Droid at a Verizon store and found that, although the physical keyboard is very poor, the on screen keyboard is considerably better than I expected—in part because it provides good visual feedback as you type.

2. While the Android OS does not provide support for bluetooth keyboards in its bluetooth stack, there is now third party software that permits some, but not all, bluetooth keyboards to work with an Android phone. It supports SPP keyboards but not HID ones. Unfortunately, the folding bluetooth keyboard I already own is HID, so I have not yet had a chance to try out the KeyPro software.

Combining these two, I'm wondering if my insistance on a phone with a physical keyboard is a mistake. I might be better off getting a phone with a large screen and no keyboard, plus a suitable bluetooth keyboard to use when I want to enter substantial amounts of text—posting to this blog or Usenet, or editing a book manuscript. That would give me a pretty good laptop substitute. It wouldn't run the same software as my desktop but it would handle the same word processing documents, and I could manage email by a combination of gmail and web access to the server that holds my Eudora mail. It's tempting.

One obvious candidate is the Google phone. One limitation of that is that it doesn't yet run on Verizon, which seems to be generally agreed to have the best 3G network. One problem with most Verizon phones is that Verizon uses a different system from everyone else, with the result that its phones mostly won't work abroad and can not be shifted to another carrier. The one exception I know of is the Touch Pro 2. The Verizon version works both on Verizon and abroad, and I gather it is physically capable of working on (at least) the AT&T and T-Mobile networks, although set up not to. It also has a big screen and a better keyboard than the Droid. Unfortunately, it runs Windows Mobile, and I'm inclined to stick with Android if possible.

Another possibility is the HTC Supersonic, which is apparently an Android version of the HD2, currently available in Europe. It has an even bigger screen than the others and a faster processor. On the other hand, if rumors are correct, it's headed for the Sprint network.

If HTC would produce a Verizon/worldphone version of the Supersonic, or Google produce the equivalent for their phone ... . And while I'm dreaming, perhaps the next upgrade to Android will include HID support in the bluetooth stack.


chris said...

You may be best off getting a 4g LTE-capable phone on Verizon when they officially roll out their 4g coverage plan this year. Until then, it's a waiting-game with no clear winner..

sconzey said...

I long ago gave up trying to unite my laptop and palmtop computing needs (although the Palm LifeDrive came pretty close)

Nowadays, I either use my eeePC netbook with my tiny Samsung F210 as a bluetooth modem, or I use my Blackberry.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered Palm Pre on Sprint? It has a decent physical keyboard and a large enough (and good enough) touchscreen for an on-screen keyboard. And the OS is wonderful.

Unknown said...

There should be a very significant update to the iPhone soon. There are heaps of rumors there will be a verizon compatible offering.

Johannes said...

I never understood why you didn't just get an iphone. Its OS is clearly more mature and the hardware is beyond competition (if you ask me). Is it beecause of the AT&T stuff?

Anonymous said...

iPhone is not very libertarian but rather monopolistic (see how Apple is trying to block competition via blocking Apps).

Anonymous said...

Nokia N900. Enough said.

Ian Eisenberg said...
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