Preferred personal media device (CES 2007)

What follows is a guest entry by a visionary colleague.
Disclaimer: Though he is a friend of mine, we do have differences of opinion. So these are his ideas, not my own. However, I plan to have a short special edition 'AG Speaks' chat to talk about the CES(Consumer Electronics Show) and the short article.

Consumers have long awaited a truly converged device. I'm not talking about a simple camera phone, but a device that would combine the best of all of their Consumer Electronics world. Today you can see several people weighted down with a digital camera, an IPOD, two cell phones, and a Nintendo DS. Granted this example may be a bit extreme, but the concept is very real. Consumers carrying multiple devices to meet all of their needs.

In this article I will attempt to detail specifications for what I call: "The Preferred Personal Media Player".

To begin with we will need to have the utility of the following devices:

  • Smartphone/PDA
  • MP3 Player (with radio)
  • Video Player
  • Digital Camera
  • Game System
  • GPS System

The important part of this device is having everything integrate together. To get the most out of this system special attention must be made to adding the following key features:

  • Bluetooth
  • Wifi
  • SD Capability
  • Modem
  • Speakerphone
  • Full Keyboard

    Bluetooth
    Bluetooth is critical for the device. This will not only allow groups to share data, but it also enables hands free phone and hands free music selection. This feature will also make it possible to record dictation as well as critical calls.

    Wifi
    This feature is a must for not only getting online but also for quickly transferring data to and from the device without a cable.

    SD Capability
    This feature is critical for many reasons. First, the device will need to have expandable memory and with the projected growth in capacity of flash media, soon consumers will be able to place full HD movies on one SD card. This capacity will allow for more than adequate room for your photos, music, movies, and yes even games. There is also, however another not so obvious reason for this feature. This slot will enable compatibility with future wireless technologies. Today there are already SD Bluetooth and SD Wifi adapters.

Modem
Many people are familiar with several of the cellular options. Smartphones that can tether physically or wirelessly to your laptop or better yet, allow you to surf right on the device itself. Somewhere in all of the confusion, someone forgot about POTS or plain old telephone service. Over 80% of traffic on handheld devices seems to be email or instant messages. Surfing is available, however in terms of traffic, a majority of it is text. Text doesn't require as much bandwidth as most of these devices offer. A device that allows the user to log on to Netzero or Juno over their phone line would be much more efficient and cost effective.

Speakerphone

This is a common feature that is often poorly implemented. In this device the manufacturer should ensure that this feature works extremely well. This ability will impact the devices voice command capabilities which should prove to be a popular navigation tool.

Full Keyboard
I mentioned earlier how important text messaging and email is. A carefully sized QWERTY is important for heavy use. Most popular smart phones today use either small push buttons or a larger keyboard that slides from under the device. I personally prefer the slider option, but whichever implementation is chosen it is important that the keys be sized and spaced appropriately. Bloggers and reviewers have been very unforgiving to those devices that are less than user friendly.

This is usually where most manufacturers stop. Little thought goes into lifestyle and how these devices are used in the home, the car, or the hotel room. If we look a little closer at the cradle for this device, I have a few more suggestions:

An External Monitor

There are so many times when a traveler in his hotel room, may want to complete his game, continue his Word Document, or finish viewing the latest Episode of 24…On the TV in his home or hotel room. I love the convenience of a converged device, but if I am at home with access to a television, why not use the larger screen to continue my work or entertainment. I understand the difficulties in trying to add additional connectors to the device. This is why I propose utilizing the base. There will be ample room to accommodate USB, Coax, Phono, S-Video, and even HD.

The market has already created a standalone flash enabled device (Sandisk Vmate). The capability is already there. In fact, I would take this a step further and allow the system to record output.

Power Strategy
Consumers are consistently plagued by lack of power. Batteries run down too quick and take forever to charge. There is a solution that is more strategic than it is technological: Using two batteries. I had a cordless phone once that had a battery stored in the base unit. Whenever the handset ran down I would just simply switch batteries. No waiting and I always had power – no waiting. I realize battery technology is changing quickly, but why not include this feature as the technology matures.

Home Phone Network
Many of my friends no longer have a home phone. They use only their cellphone. All of their homes are wired and set up for phone service, however they have no way of connecting their phones to the house line. Consumers should be able to use their cellular service throughout their homes land line system. This would allow you the convenience of having a phone nearby throughout your home while still charging your cellphone in its base.

Again there is a device that offers this functionality called Dock-n-Talk. Combining this technology into the base of this system would again expand its utility.

I think that this system would become a very powerful platform and would take a lot of technological in house capabilities to develop. Most likely several companies would have to team up to deliver this solution, but I believe the public is patiently awaiting.

I originally though of Apple bringing this concept to life. Their success with the IPOD, Video IPOD and their computer business made them a strong candidate. After careful review with some of my counterparts we came up with another company that could deliver this device alone:

Sony

Although they haven't been in the forefront of the MP3 revolution they do have a significant and rich heritage. They develop personal computers, Cellphones, MP3 players, Digital Cameras, Gamesystems, Camcorders, and PDAs. In terms of a device to use as a platform, I would suggest the PSP. It is probably the most advanced hardware of its size.

Also of importance, Sony also used to produce TIVOs and has developed its own GPS system. If this company could effectively weave these technologies into the Preferred Personal Media Player, they very well may find the world beating a path to their door.

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    This page contains a single entry by AG published on January 11, 2007 12:38 AM.

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