9 Aug 2010

Touchphone Woes

It was a moment of glee when I picked up my first touchphone mobile. Ah - at that moment there were a thousand plans working overtime in my mind on how I would best utilize the device.

In all anticipation I went all-out to have the gizmo (won't name it - though you have a clue) with the maximum features. So there's WiFi, GPS, keypad, Bluetooth .. blah blah all the stuff that was considered leading edge. For once, I threw economics of rationality out of the window. Played a blind ear to some of my like-minded friends who chanted the mantra - "A phone is that - just a device - to talk and converse".

Well, it should be added that till this one, I'd been a devoted admirer of low budget phones. The E398 & LG KP-199 that I had before this one were little wonders in their own way. The former was perhaps the most moddable phone around ( anyone visiting http://www.e398mod.com/ would understand the addiction ). The latter was a low budget pocket powerhouse that would remain charged all through the week.

So what is it - you may ask - that I found problematic with my touchscreen phone. Well - the fact is that this one as well a couple of other "touchies" that I evaluate at airport counters have the same problem - superficial features and no real meat beneath that glamour of touch. Here are a few points

1) The touch interface is no doubt slick-looking but then you can't control the font size, the widget placement options (which seem to always keep dragging here and there) and worst of all - while scrolling through the phonebook you have a real chance of adding RSI to your list of ailments. Somehow the thumb is the most overworked appendage when it comes to touchscreen's.

2)  The biggest loss is for the one's who are addicted to gaming - believe me you'll lose out on a lot of favourite games. Forget RPG variants - fine control of player movements is often a problem and you'll be best off playing games like "bursting bubbles" or "Tetris". (Disclaimer - I'm not considering the iPhone in this league of  touchphones - have seen some pretty amazing games on that console).

3) Taking notes, reading ebooks - somehow reading ebooks was big on my wannabe list of items but haven't yet found a reader that allows me to effortlessly do that  - i.e without twiddling thumbs everytime I need to scan the page from left to right and back. Reflowing PDF might help but my current reader doesn't do that. 

Also the manufacturer has designed the J2ME application container such that it only allows apps to be installed OTA(Over The Air). So lots of workarounds needed to get an application jar onto the phone. Hope that a "mod" comes out soon to alleviate this crucial limitation.

Somehow I still yearn for the old E398 and the flexibility it afforded in every aspect.

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