In the last couple of week I have taken ownership of a shiny new mobile phone.
In the last few years I have used my trusty Nokia E75. A small phone with a large slide out keyboard. The battery life was enough for me to last a whole day at a conference blogging or tweeting, and this with relatively fast typing and few errors.
But alas it’s time to move on.
I wanted to go android as I thought this would be a sensible way forward, and I really wanted a phone with a slide out keyboard. Unfortunately the only android phone that Orange offer was a Motorola with droid 1.6 and a weird square form factor. So when the chance presented itself I took the new Motorola Atrix.
Powerful, long battery life and expandable… so I thought. Motorola even ship a Bluetooth keyboard for it and a full laptop style doc is available (if a little over priced). But 2 weeks on and Orange have failed to ship my bluetooth keyboard accessory :(
Over the last week or so of getting used to the new machine I have come to realise that for a man with bananas for fingers the touch keyboard while functional is slow – added to that starts to cause a real pain in the finger (yes you can only “prod” this type of screen keyboard) and did it mention it is slow and inaccurate? Even using a swipe based approach called “Swype” – a method where you glide or swipe your finger across the letters spelling the word is just way too slow compared to a real thumb keyboard. A good workaround – but still a workaround.
However the voice to text function is brilliant. Much better than the dragon software I have had on my desktop pc. But you cannot talk in a conference to take notes!
Consumption or generation?
I like to generate content as well as consume it. Don’t get me wrong the Artix is an awesome handset… for consumption.. but touch only is not good for generating content, at least not on a 4 inch phone screen. I suspect that while a tablet is better than a phone – the size limitation will continue to be a problem/ weakness.
This has led me to believe that there are two types of device – those for content generation and social interacting – and one for consumption. Even my 14yr old who has both an android handset and an ipod touch is beginning to wish her handset had a keyboard!
What to have for learning?
Will the ipads or tablets really replace the laptop – well if we in the world of learning want to give our people access to content which required graphical interaction (tap on image) then a tablet is ideal – but if you want people to interact and collaborate then it seems that the keyboard is king. Sure a tablet is convenient, in that one can use it sitting or standing, on transport etc, however there is a reason why the majority of ipad users leave their ipad at home!
Certainly the advantages of a touch screen can aid interactions, but if we want contribution and detailed interaction then a keyboard will be a requirement if we want to maintain a level of productivity and keep stress as low as practical during learning activities.
For me – I miss my keyboard on my phone.. now if only I could add one easily….