OK, so it was a bit of a risk. Setting off for a week's
camping holiday in the wilds with only my new Nokia 6630 (Symbian
smartphone) to do everything. And I mean everything. PDA, email, web (news,
weather), satellite navigation, camera, MP3 player, video player. Oh, and I
used it as a phone/SMS device each day as well. And for playing games (well,
this was a holiday, after all). No backup devices, no other gadgets whatsoever,
this tiny device had to do the lot. When I think of the paraphernalia I used to
take with me...!
The risks were twofold. Firstly that the 6630 would break
down in some way. I wasn't too worried on this score, since the one piece
design and my (hopefully careful) handling should keep it going. Though I did
write down on a piece of paper the basic reference and booking numbers needed
for the things we were doing, just in case.
Secondly, and perhaps more worryingly, was the risk that
the single Series 60 device wouldn't do everything I needed it to. After all, I
used to bring along a Psion palmtop with full keyboard, an Olympus 35mm camera
and a Sony CD player, so the standard was pretty high. For the purposes of the
experiment, I'd left my previously all-conquering Nokia 9500 at home. Gulp. At
least the 6630 was going to take much higher quality holiday photos.
So, 7 days later, how did I get on? Well, I didn't miss the
qwerty keyboard too much. Much of this article was written on the 6630, though
I used my Bluetooth keyboard for most of it, a system which works really well
for when you know you need to do some serious typing.
I certainly didn't miss not having a traditional
standalone camera, as having a Megapixel camera inside your phone, always at
the ready, meant that I was always able to snap 'the moment', in high quality
JPG that would stand up well to printing out for the family album. Music was
slightly more of a problem, due to the currently limited capacity of DV RS-MMC
cards. Once I'd taken away 128MB for
MOBILE 5 and another 100MB for games and assorted videos, 256MB was only
really enough for about 8 CDs worth, even using the super-efficient
OggPlay. Still, they kept me entertained well
enough, though I'll be putting a different 8 CD selection on as soon as I get a
spare moment back home.
TomTom MOBILE 5, with its Bluetooth GPS, was a real
boon, getting me from specific UK postcodes and addresses with no dramas, and
twice saving me a lot of time by routing me around town centre roadworks. Only
once did it get confused, due to a small error in the underlying TeleAtlas
mapping data. The only thing to watch for was that it takes 6MB of RAM, which
means that most other apps have to be closed first, on the 6630 at least.
Email. Me? A workaholic?
Checking email is really the basis for me making a big
deal out of taking a smartphone or palmtop on holiday with me, Not that I'm a
workaholic, but being able to respond to anything really urgent at the start
and end of each day actually makes me much more relaxed and confident that I'm
not missing anything vital. Series 60's Messaging application is still a
slightly basic email client, but the 'look at headers and then grab the ones
you want' system works supremely well on a tiny smartphone. Being able to dash
off even a one line reply, saying "Yes, see xxxxx" or "Thanks. I'm on holiday
for the next four days, but I'll see to it when I get back" can make all the
difference between someone thinking that you've gone away for good or that
you're not interested in them, and a happy customer who knows that you respond
quickly and that you're not ignoring them.
Typing one or two line replies on a typical T9 keypad does
involve a slight learning curve, but it's one well worth climbing. Sussing out
how to help T9 learn the names of those you write about, plus any special
jargon, and working out how to put in punctuation quickly, makes all the
difference. With a little practice, it's quite practical to get up to 20 words
per minute, which is double what you might get from scribbling gestures on a
Palm or Pocket PC, although less than you'd expect from a Nokia 9500.
What about my other most used applications? The built-in
Notes was my staple for jotting down ideas before I forgot them and for
writing articles (like this one) - once home, these were all synced happily
across to Outlook, of course.
Also built-in is 'Memory card', useful because it
has a 'backup' function, backing up all my new notes to card in the unlikely
event that the 6630 dies a death before I get back to my PC.
The freeware jmIrc did the job for
occasional chats in #mobitopia and Web (Opera) was useful for checking
the latest headlines over on AllAboutSymbian and in the world at
On the games front, I spent most of my time trying to
break par in Golf
Pro Contest. Fore! Oh, and trying to beat my wife at Yahtzee.
The experiment was a big success and the Nokia 6630 has
now become my PDA/smartphone of choice. Like every other device, it has its
foibles, but the current marque of Series 60 v2 smartphones with stereo sound
are now ready for real world use as an all-in-one everything replacement