Wednesday, 24 January 2007

If only I had an iGadget I liked

Managing MP3s

I am hardly a gadget freak, most probably a technophobe of sorts. I find that I only get gadgets that particularly suit a purpose I have and sometimes no one has been thinking along those lines.

Years ago, I had a number of speech and sermon files which were fragments of talks that needed to be kept in a particular order and played back in that same order to make sense of what was being said.

At first, I put the MP3s on CD but that could only take so much, I needed a device that could handle gigabytes of information, read MP3 tags, allow album arrangement and sequencing by track number.

There were so many MP3 CD players and hardly any hard-disk based portable players that offered all that functionality until I found the Creative DAP (Europe) or Nomad II that appeared to do everything I wanted then – this was before the iPod days and before long 6GB of disk space was insufficient for my needs.

I never got a new MP3 player, but a good friend gave me a 20GB player soon after, I have not asked for a bigger one, but it met my requirements. The market is now filled with entry-level 512 MB MP3 players, that would never have fulfilled my requirements 7 years ago.

Eventually, I found out about the SLiMP3 which allowed you to manage your MP3 files on a server over a network which then linked into your amplifier, there has been much evolution but no revolution.

A phone that works

Everyone who has a mobile phone probably has all their numbers on that device and hardly a backup of that information on some other storage medium be it a computer or on paper.

Indeed, I have not been satisfied with the snail’s pace of development in the home phone; you have integrated answering machine, remote access, possible Short Message Service (SMS) and hands-free functionality.

I have just over 200 numbers on my mobile phone, but there is probably only one phone on the market that allows you to transfer the information from your mobile phone to your home phone.

You either spend six Saturdays clicking each number into the home and all you need is a few names with letters that require a multi-press and FOILS is a matter of clicking 16 times and then an 11 digit number with all the OKs, each entry is the development of repetitive strain fatigue.

It makes you wonder why more devices do not exist to backup you mobile phone data to your PC and a USB cable can used to upload the information to your home phone, in fact, the date should be in your computer address book where it can be corrected, uploaded to your mobile phone and transmitted to your hands free home phone by infra-red, blue tooth or some other wireless means.

The iPhone is a revolution

I have been with Orange for just over 4 years, in the first 3, I had a contract, but now, I have a rolling renewal which is more-or-less a monthly contract.

This is because, I cannot find a decent phone to do what I want because mobile telephony companies prefer to maximize their profits than provide services that are beneficial to their customers.

There are very few phones that take advantage of WiFi connectivity, and where they exist, they are inflexible dud systems, the sophisticated devices cannot be found on the vendors’ shelves.

For instance, I want a phone that serves as a fully functional portable PDA and it does not have to be a BlackBerry where charges for having that kind of device for personal use are prohibitive.

Customer service rating - 0

When I did find a phone I could tolerate, it was running a Dutch operating system, now, Orange is at least a European company and I could not persuade anyone I contacted in that company to one phone configured in English even if it involved shipping it from the UK. There is a lack of initiative that pervades that company.

Worse still is when the latest version of one phone is available in one country and not available in another even though it is the same company and Orange has been a culprit in that matter many times.

In fact, mobile phone companies are going the way of the record and film companies, their inability to innovate and capture the essence of changing demands even provide groundbreaking devices means that outsiders would capture that market and change the face of it before they catch out that they have lost what used to be their niche.

I probably would never get an iPhone, just as I do not have an iMac, iPod or iGadget, but if this amazing innovation gets Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola to make useful products like HTC is introducing to the market and then take on ideas like iPhone such that I should never have to click the 7-key four times to start to say Sorry, we would have come a long way.

Extortionate prices

I am also seriously irked by the fact that with Orange in the Netherlands, France and the UK, I still end up paying prohibitive rates for making and taking calls when I am not in my home country.

These companies are dragging their feet on what should have the European Commission really laying down the law for competitive change on roaming charges. I cannot even tell you that WiFi connections in hotels average €22.00 for 24 hours with Vodafone being the most expensive at €29.50 when I am in Germany – it is utterly extortionate that one has to pay these prices in Europe for rotten phones and un-integrated infrastructure.

The sooner iPhone rocks this cosy boat, the better it would be for customers, now, iPhone does still have its issues, but the goal posts have moved and there is now a new paradigm in mobile communications coming to you in June.

More so, Apple struck a deal with Cingular in the United States where Cingular had to modify their services to accommodate additional features like the voice mail system, the whole methodology needs to change and thanks to Apple, we would yet see change in this rather tired market.

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