I succumbed to temptation in a weak moment, I purchased a smart phone, the MDA Vario II.There are many reasons why I bought it, and I’ll try to explain some of them here.
Firstly I’ve been wanting a small portable device for browsing the net and playing media files. I had been looking at the Asus R2H UMPC (see previous blog entry), but the cost was somewhat prohibitive. Also it was a touch on the large side for carrying around.
Also, when I’m away from home, as my new work role will now require from time to time, I can check my email, update my blog, and more importantly stay in touch with my family, using a single device.
I’ve also long held a dream of a single portable device that would do for video, music and mobile phone. Now the MDA Vario II can do all of these, but is limited to micro-SD card for storage, which you can buy with up to 4G of space. If it had a 60G internal drive, it’d be truly amazing!
Anyway, it comes with a 2.8 inch, 320 by 240 touch screen, which is more than adequate for general browsing of the net, checking of emails and playing of video. I don’t think I want any higher resolution for such a small screen.
I’ve already set up my mail on it, and connectivity to my wireless network at home, copied my calendar from my Mac and got my contacts in it. Which brings me onto an interesting point.
The Vario II comes with Windows Mobile 5 installed, I use Apple Macs at home. I use iCal, Contacts, iPhoto, iTunes and Entourage for my mail. How to synchronize everything together?
After a quick bit of Googling, I found Missing Sync. What a superb tool. Not only does it allow me to synchronise my contacts and calendars, but also iPhoto and iTunes. Much to my amazement, it even lets me pick and choose which parts of my iTunes/iPhoto libraries to synchronize and where to store them on the phone (The phone’s internal memory or SD card).
As for web browsing, so far I’ve only used the built in MSIE. But it works well resizing of pages works pretty good and some, like this blog, seem to work much better than others. It’s a little hit and miss as to which do and don’t work well. It also comes with a slide out QWERTY keyboard which works superbly. Another advantage is that when you slide the keyboard out the screen automatically rotates 90 degrees. Neat.
So now I have a single device, with some music, some video (on a different SD card), my address/phone book, a calendar (an essential item for me), some photos, internet wherever and whenever I want, and a mobile phone.
Unlike the Apple iPhone this has two very big advantages:
- It can use external storage (micro SD cards)
- I can install applications of my own choice on it.
This all comes in at 176 grams, it’s marginally ‘fatter’ than my iPod and slightly longer, but slightly narrower, a much better shape to hold than my old phone.
I can see that such devices are going to get more and more popular, as people want to use technology rather than being dominated by it. I now believe that all web pages should be able to work with smaller resolution screens, at least until such time as the resolutions get higher. To this end, I’ll be redesigning my website(s) to work with low resolution screens.