Phones: they make great phones!

Here is iRiver’s “PSP killer”, the G10 (via New Links). Looks nice, but the PSP is bound to win for two reasons:

  1. WipEout Pure (a return to form for the WipEout series!)
  2. Lumines (the most addictive puzzle game I’ve played in ages)

While we’re on fancy new-fangled gadgets, I’ve been hearing one or two people predicting that 2006 will herald the end of mobile phones, MP3 players and hand-held games consoles being separate. I doubt this. It’s been tried several times before. As far as I’m concerned, phones are only ever successful as phones.

Sure, camera phones took off, but only as a novelty as far as I’m concerned. If you really want to take a photograph, you are going to reach for the digital camera every time, not the piece of crap that was appended onto your phone as an afterthought.

As for gaming, remember the N-gage? It didn’t kill anything apart from itself. Then there’s the music. Rokr anyone? Here’s a neat article I found via Wikipedia:

What [the Rokr] seems to lack, is any realisation of the fact that actually, it is difficult to make a device which is both a great phone and a great iPod.

The problem is that power limitations mean you don’t want to play too many tunes before your phone goes dead; that you don’t want to have too many calls before your MP3 player goes quiet; and that the controls are a compromise.

I’m sure this time last year Sony were banging on about their “iPod killer” — did it kill the iPod? I bet nobody can even remember what it is now (I certainly can’t). I have a friend who has a Sony Ericsson phone with Walkman branding on it. Another friend asked him if he actually listens to music on it, and he just laughed — of course he uses his iPod to listen to music.

My iRiver can play music (obviously), but you can also view images and text files on it. Have I used either of the latter two functions? Of course not. The images do look quite nice, but why would I need to look at images when I’m on the move? The text function, meanwhile, is really fiddly, and I don’t know what on earth I could use it for. As one entertaining iRiver fanboy told me in the comments once:

your [sic] a twat… the [iRiver] h340 now plays videos aswell (full length movies to watch) … hmm why would you want that you will probably say… and you dont even deserve to know why it has picture and text capabilities, READ YOUR MANUAL!

Translation: “I don’t have the foggiest either!”

If there ever is a decent device that can be used as an MP3 player, a games console and a mobile phone all in one, I’d love to see it — but I’ll have to see it to believe it. In the meantime, I’d use an iRiver for listening to music, a PSP for playing games and, er, my phone to use as a phone.

1 comment

  1. I quite want one of the old iRiver series (H3xx), since Vorbis support is a “big thing” for me, but they’re not made anymore, and their newer models don’t play Vorbis. And those iAudio players just look awful.

    Perhaps bizarrely, the best balance between features and cold, hard cash I’ve seen at the moment is actually Apple’s iPods. Which is neat, but I still want an iRiver.

    The problem you describe with combining devices is not new though – there’s a large camp of usability technicians who believe that personal devices should serve only one purpose, and serve it well. “To know the task, is to know the device” (paraphrased) is the doctrine. Obviously there’s a tradeoff between usabilty and functionality. I think MP3 players and phones will best be left seperate for the foreseeable future, since they’re disparate tasks.

    Incidentally, though, I have an SE phone (the K750i, which is the same as the Walkman one with less “Orange”) and I use it to play MP3s… When I get bored replacing the batteries in my crap little USB-stick player thing.