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September 1, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

The all-in-one solution?

I was one of the last people on the block to get a laptop. Among the last, anyway, within the circles I travel in. And I was late to PDAs. I got a Palm in July 2001. I could even tell you the date, since it marks the start of my electronic calendar. I ate at Wild Ginger that night. It was the first event I recorded besides the purchase of the Palm itself. I already had a cell phone. And it was Christmas 2001 that we got our first digital camera. That’s also easy to remember, because the first digital photos we have were taken at my sister-in-law’s place on New Year’s Day 2002. Most notably, there is a great photo of Joel with his grandfather (my father-in-law), the last photo of them together before Stew died that March.

Every time I traveled, I would have five pieces of electronics to bring with me. The phone, the Palm, the camera, the laptop. Let’s see. What am I forgetting? Oh, the iPod, though I didn’t get one for another few years. It was the original iPod shuffle. So there I was, carrying five things onto the plane whenever we flew somewhere. How long would I have to wait for that glorious moment of convergence, when I could do everything on one device?

You know what happened. PDA and phone? Sure, combining them happened quickly, with the further convenience that you didn’t have to maintain separate contacts lists on them. Even better, in due course, you could sync the contacts between PDA/phone and computer, as well as the calendar. I waited until July 2006 to join that world, with my Palm Treo. But I still needed a separate iPod and laptop, and a camera too, since the Treo camera wasn’t so good.

The iPhone came next, though I didn’t get one until my Treo contract with Sprint expired. Now I had the phone, PDA, and iPod functions all in one. And a camera, but still a lousy one. On the other hand, the email and web browsing weren’t bad, so the laptop wasn’t essential.

Then a newer iPhone came, with better camera and even a video camera. And faster web browsing. My five objects had converged. Except by now a sixth object had shown up on the scene and become part of our lives: the Kindle. Well, there was Kindle convergence too, thanks to the iPhone’s Kindle app. I could have all six functions — phone, PDA, iPod, camera, internet-connected computer, e-reader — on one. Convergence at last.

So one might think. But as I start to lay out my electronics in order to decide what to bring with me on our upcoming vacation, I’m having a heck of a time letting go of anything. Here’s my thinking:

1. iPhone. Gotta have it. It’s my phone after all.

2. Kindle. Gotta have it. I can’t read books outdoors in bright light on an iPhone or iPad. And I sure hope to be sitting outdoors in bright light. No choice. The Kindle is coming with me.

3. Laptop. Gotta have it. When I’m away awhile, email accumulates. I don’t want to be responding on the iPhone. Or the iPad. And what if I want to blog? I need the full keyboard. It’s coming.

4. iPad. Gotta have it. Yes, I can’t read the screen in that bright outdoor light. But it’s great for lying in bed and checking email, reading through my RSS feeds, browsing the web. Holding the laptop up whie lying down is a pain compared to the iPad. Plus, OmniFocus on the iPad is so much better than on the iPhone or laptop. I better take it.

5. Digital SLR. Gotta have it. You don’t really expect me to take photos with the iPhone or iPad do you? I bought a new prime (fixed focal length) lens for it earlier in the summer that is so much lighter than my behemoth wide-angle zoom lens or my long-range zoom. And the new lens is fast. I don’t even need to bring the flash, since the lens will work in fairly dim light. I figured I would have no reason to leave the camera at home anymore. One small lens. No lens changing. No flash to attach. This is my chance to try it out.

Where have I gone wrong?

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