A conversation between me and my nephew about getting a Mac has been documented here, and there have also been ongoing discussions about my getting a cell phone. (Actually, I think everyone in the family is tired of the discussions about that one.) Every so often I make noises about a portable music-player-thingy that I can plug into my car’s sound system as well as using with earphones or earbuds or whatever they’re called.
And then there’s my desire for a GPS which will interface with googlemaps, so I can plan my route and download it to the GPS, rather than the GPS trying to put me on every toll road on the continent when there’s a perfectly good no-toll road providing a more direct route to the destination just a little further along the way.
“I-Phone,” my nephew said. “Get an I-Phone. It does it all. It will take pictures: you can throw away that digital camera that you can’t figure out how to use. Then you can instantly upload the picture to your Flickr account. You can search the web. You can have googlemaps open and running while you’re driving the car; you won’t need a GPS. You can read your email. You can text people. You can use it like a “portable music-player-thingy’. It will do it all. There are all kinds of applications to do everything. There’s probably even an application to run a knitting machine, if you have one. By the way, have you bought a Mac yet?”
(I don’t. I haven’t.)
The I-Phone sounds great, except for a few things. I’d considered dumping my landline and using only a cell-phone. But I have maybe 4 phone calls in and out of my home on a weekly basis. Maybe 4; likely fewer. One of those calls will be long-distance to the USA. Canadian readers with cell phones have already seen the issue here: this is going to cost money because of the way the plans work. Further, I really don’t want to have a phone in my pocket, because there are plenty of times when I just don’t want to talk to people (having done it all day at work). Yes, I could simply turn it off, but then why have one? Why have a cell phone to be accessible and then turn it off so you're not accessible. (Unless you're in a concert or church service or class or some situation where you --and everyone around you-- shouldn't be interrupted.)
A cell phone would be convenient if I’m in downtown Toronto and need to call my dinner companion to see if I’m really in the right restaurant or am I in the wrong one or did I get the time and date wrong. Or if my car breaks down on the highway and I need to call CAA for a tow. Or when I'm in the grocery store and need to call Mom and ask her to clarify: "Did you want the low pulp, no pulp or regular pulp orange juice, in low acid or regular, with or without added vitamin C and/or calcium?" But I’m not in Toronto very often, and if my car is going to break down on the highway it will likely be in the USA, so I’d be paying roaming charges and so on, if I can figure out which plan I need that will give me service in the USA.
Mom writes very detailed shopping lists. On paper.
I am not convinced that I want to be able to access email, or send text messages, from anywhere in the world at any time of day. Sometimes, I think, it is useful and important to get away from that immediacy communication.
It sounds like the I-Phone would be supplying me with functionality that I'm not interested in having in the first place. And I think I would be paying a lot of money for that functionality.
So what do I want the I-Gadget to do for me?
- Play music. Earbuds or plugged into the sound system in the car. Especially if I can rip tunes from my CD collection. (Is that even legal?)
- Websearching would be useful. Occasionally accessing a hotmail or yahoo account would be useful, and if I can search the web, I can access those.
- Maintain an address book.
- Be able to take short notes about whatever. The shopping list. Write a reminder to myself to do something when I remember to write the reminder, since I sometimes forget to write myself a reminder when I really should have remembered to do so. (Did that even make sense??)
- Take photos on the fly? Maybe.
- GPS. Maybe. Especially if I can plan the route. (See above.)
- Clean the bathroom. Absolutely.
So, Dear Readers, if you wanted a gadget to do those things, what would you buy? And what am I not considering that I should be thinking about?