On Computers: Mobile phones perform many functions, but not all well
Mobile phones are moving fast to corner the market on electronic devices. With the latest ones hooked to wireless and capable of playing music and making movies, there’s not much more for them to conquer.
On a lot of phones, the phone thing is a small part of the system. They shoot photos, they record voices, they play music and, the big enchilada, they now connect to the Internet.
Latest news: They’re also a TV set. Stations all over the country are busy streaming live TV into the phone wireless networks.
One thing I’ve noticed about devices that combine functions — they usually do the job, but not as well or easily as separate machines.
The music function on a mobile phone is not exactly breathtaking. It sounds more like AM radio. That will improve, but we’re still looking at nickel-size speakers and tinny tonal ranges.
The photos work well, but most are only 5 megapixels. That’s OK for e-mail and online, as the Net sends photos at a low resolution 72 dpi. Try making a 5-by-7 printout from a cell, and you’ll see how far they need to go.
The movies are, well, they can look like 1910 films. The big problem is phones are too light to dampen the usual vibrations and jerky motions. They desperately need motion control.
The Net connection is worthy and is second to voice as the star of the phone. This is still baby steps. Trying to jam a Web site designed for a 16-inch monitor into a phone screen creates some crazy views. That’s changing fast, as progressive Web sites offer phone versions that cut back on the useless graphics and increase readability.
Combo phones as of yet are not affecting sales of stand-alone MP3 players and video and still cameras. The phone does teach us that although they are cool, we still want quality. I’m totally hooked on 15-megapixel cameras and music players that sound like live.
One of the big roadblocks to mobile phones taking over these functions is low storage. Makers are addressing this by adding a slot for a micro-SD storage card, those fingernail-size cards that offer 2 to 64 gigabytes of storage.
For about $5, you can buy a micro-SD card reader for your PC, making transfer of media easy and secure.
I’m not ready to give up my camera and music player for a phone. The quality of these cell peripherals only can increase. They’ve figured out how to do this stuff, now they need to concentrate on doing it well.
Give them a couple of years, and they’ll be right up there with the good guys we enjoy today.