|I don't want a mobile phone, a netbook or a laptop. These days all I want is a converged device in a micro laptop form factor. I want netbook-like functionality but with instant-on, half decent battery life, voice capability, GPS, multimedia and I want it all fitting in my back pocket. The closest I came to my ideal was my beloved Nokia E90 which served me well between August 2007 and August 2009 but was finally kicked out of bed for three reasons – it was brick-like and unsexy compared to the iPhone everyone else was using, it was starting to behave erratically and, most importantly, my needs had moved on and although the E90 could just about handle Twitter, mobile internet and GPS, it didn't do it half as well as the newer devices coming to market which is why I went for the Nokia N97. However....
The N97 was panned by most reviewers although I was positive about it but my N97 love affair only lasted about six months before the Palm Pre came onto the scene and opened my eyes to the inadequacies of Nokia's then-flagship phone. Every now and again I find myself switching the N97 back on because I love it's form factor and miss it's good camera but all too quickly I rediscover the appallingly small 'C:' drive with its memory error messages, the clunky & dated Symbian interface and the hopeless Ovi store where you can pay for software with no guarantee that it will work with your phone and no refund if it doesn't. Worse is the monstrously ugly non-HTML Messaging application with no support for HTML or conversation views. While third party apps exist to address some of these shortcomings, I object to being expected to pay out for the likes of Profimail and SMS Chat when their functionality should have been included as standard for a long time now. "What about the N900?" I hear you cry! My arguement against that is the Nokia N770 tablet I bought which ran an older version of the N900's Maemo OS. It was a truly awful device and as soon as Nokia brought out the N800 they did their usual trick of sticking two fingers up at those who had already shelled out for the older model. Once Nokia release the N900's successor running MeeGo, they'll forget about the N900 user base and will pretend Maemo never existed leaving it to rot and be supported by dedicated homebrewers.
The Palm Pre I already have is great, but it's not the form factor I'm after and with no other adoptors of WebOS outside of Palm I'm worried the Pre's wonderful interface is going to get left behind in a market where iOS, Android and RIM operating systems are increasing their dominance. I'm fed up of searching the Pre App Catalogue or Preware for applications that should provide age-old functionality which either isn't there, isn't stable or misses out features I need. It's mainly old low-tech apps I'm after such as decent IRC and SSH clients. My E90 (and my N97 for that matter) used WirelessIRC from mobileways.de and it is still the only dependable mobile IRC client I've found on whatever device I use. The Pre just doesn't have this functionality – at least, not in any reliable, workable form.
So how about Android? I have a HTC Legend to play with and Android is certainly well supported so I should be able to find any software I need. I can't say I'm impressed with Android 2.1 however as it takes far too many taps and swipes to perform any operation and it lacks the simplicity and intuitiveness offered by iOS and WebOS. I'm hoping Android 2.2 (which I haven't seen yet) will address this complaint as I believe it is the best option I've got in the future. In fact, other than the fiddly user experience, the only thing holding me back from using the Legend over the Pre is the lack of a physical keyboard. That on-screen nonsense just doesn't do it for me and, I suspect, never will.
Sadly it appears the mobile device I'll be completely satisfied with still hasn't been made yet. What I want is the Nokia E7's form factor but with the Android operating system (albeit improved on what I've seen on the HTC Legend). I know there are Android devices out there with physical qwerty keyboards but they tend to be the slide-out version and don't offer the angled screen of the Nokia N97/E7 which would allow my electronic sidekick to sit on my desk beside my computer keyboard with the screen at an optimal viewing angle while it keeps an eye on my IRC, mail and Twitter shenanigans.
The upcoming Nokia E7. Love the form factor, shame about the OS... and the OVI experience... and Nokia
I see talk of such devices emerging in the coming months so I remain hopeful that sometime soon I'll have the style of phone I want with all the whistles, bells and application support I need. It's just a shame that in 2010 with all the fast moving development and the plethora of manufacturers out there, I don't have such a device in my pocket already.