An Improbable Journey – How I Learned to Love My Smart Phone

improbable journeyA smart phone is worth the added cost and bother to have on-the-road access beyond phone calling and texting.

This year my winter solstice festivities coincided with driving 1800 miles from Texas to California, just one day after acquiring a Droid 2 smart phone. This was an intriguing learning experience as, in previous journeys, I had learned how to use a laptop with wireless on the road, and later, how to use a portable GPS on the road.

I DO like having a smart phone. It does all the things my feature phone did (calls, texts, camera) but with improvements (higher resolution camera, ability to access Internet). It also does SOME things better than my portable GPS. But I’m still glad I have all three.

Content Creation

  • Like my old feature phone, my new smart phone lets me create pictorial content.
  • Unlike my feature phone, my smart phone lets me create and post simple web content such as tweets, short blog posts, and short replies to email. And playing videos works great on a smart phone for impromptu demonstrations to clients.
  • A laptop is still better for creating substantive content such as website updates, pictorial edits, video edits, and complex posts.

Travel 

  • Like my portable GPS, my new smart phone lets me browse maps, find restaurants and banks, and get driving directions.
  • Unlike my portable GPS, my smart phone lets me browse maps more fluidly with finger flicks, and browse routes in 3D. It also gives me walking directions with satellite imagery in 3D. A smart phone is also easier to use for checking the weather or finding a place to eat.
  • A portable GPS is still better for dedicated travel use between destination points and addresses in pre-determined, multiple new locations. And planning and implementing a long trip ahead of time is still easier with a laptop and a portable GPS.
    • For one thing, a portable GPS is self-contained and does not depend on Internet access to show you where you are and what you are near.
    • For another, you don’t have to keep interrupting it or taking it down from the windscreen to answer phone calls.

Web Interaction

  • Interacting with web sites is still net easier on a laptop.
    • Mobile versions of Web 2.0 sites can be exercises in frustration. Sure, you can read emails and posts from others; but just TRY to respond and reply intelligently, at length, while fumbling with a keyboard and functions that are hiding through altered access paths.
    • Even full sites can be tough to work with on a smart phone. High resolution screens make full sites surprisingly readable. But you still have to expand them with your fingers (Multi touch) if you want to click one of those tiny little links, which are so much easier to see and click on a laptop screen using a touchpad or mouse.

Keyboards

  • I am very glad, on the advice of others, that I got a separate QWERTY keyboard with raised keys to augment the flat, virtual screen keyboard.
    • Smart phone QWERTY keys are admittedly harder to use than laptop full-size keys, but still WAY easier to use than virtual keys.

Conclusion

  • A smart phone is worth the added cost and bother to have on-the-road web interactions beyond phone calling and texting.

Also see: David Pogue and the App Phone – an UP Experience Post

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