I’ve been thinking a lot about this and as someone who’s really looking forward to a 7” webOS tablet, I’ve come up with some features that would be advantageous for HP to include in the Opal.
- Ultra Slim and light form factor. 7” devices are designed with portability in mind, why not make a feature and a unique selling point out of it: “The HP TouchPad7: the thinnest and lightest 7” ultraportable tablet you can buy, all the power of webOS no matter where you are”. Or something along those lines.
- 3G/4G (geo-dependent) option AT RELEASE! Not a month or 2 months later, as soon as it’s released. Why? Because this is your portable webOS powerhouse HP, it’s so light and thin that everybody will be carrying it everywhere, so it NEEDS cellular connectivity straight away.
- Front and rear cameras: once again, emphasis on portability, people like to take snapshots. Taking a photo with a 10” tablet in the street is slightly ridiculous, 7”, not so bad. If your webOS phone is in your pocket and your tablet is out while you’re reading/browsing/gaming on it and you want to take a quick snapshot, the option should be there! Make it a 1080p video recorder too and it’s a bonus.
- Variety of back cover finishes, soft touch, glossy, whatever, it’s a nice touch.
- Digital Pen: This could be another nice selling point, putting it up against HTC’s Flyer, good for students/road warriors, writers, artists etc. I know as an architect/designer I myself would like to have a little book sized device that I can quickly sketch on when talking design with someone.
Those are the main things I thought of, here’s a few rubbish mockups:
Just a reminder to myself of what my next few posts will be about
So the illustration above is pretty self explanatory but here’s some commentary to go along with it.
I got my first ever mobile phone, the Nokia 3210 in 2001 at the tender age of 14, it was my older brother’s old phone after he upgraded to the Nokia 6210, which was then handed down to me later on, along with all the other phones I had up to 2003.
2003 was when I got my first ever own phone, mine, brand new out of the box, it was amazing, it was the Nokia 3650. A phone well ahead of its time, the first to do video recording, and what we now know as multi-tasking and apps. I didn’t know it back then but the task switcher and ability to install games, office apps, mp3 player software, divx playing software, themes, tweaks and expandable memory via a MMC were all groundbreaking features which wouldn’t hit the main stream til at least another 2 years.
I was in love with Symbian S60, and all my phones for the next 6 years would be Symbian smartphones.
By 2009, the iPhone and iOS had become well estabilished, my 1st gen iPod Touch was making my Symbian phones seem archaic and clunky, despite the latter having a number of superior features, and my long lived fear of touchscreens was finally coming to an end, so in January 2011 I bought my first touchscreen smartphone: The Nokia 5800 Music Xpress. Unfortunately it was the last Symbian device I would own and the last Nokia device I would own. After 8 years of loyalty to Nokia, our relationship had come to an end. I felt Nokia had dropped the ball and stopped innovating as they once did.
Devices like the N97, a supposedly flagship device were being released with underpowered internals and unoptimised and buggy software, but were still being charged for at a premium price. I decided it was time to try out a fledgling new OS, one that offered me what Symbian had offered 6 years ago, a new platform to be part of, an opportunity to be an early adopter of a platform that was starting off slowly but would pick up momentum. This new Mobile OS was called Android, and it was by a team bought up by Google.
I pre-ordered my HTC Hero, so I was one of the first people in Europe to get it. The HTC Dream, or T-Mobile G1 hadn’t gotten that much attention, outside of early adopters and linux geeks, and the HTC Magic hadn’t gained much traction either. The Hero, HTC’s first device to run the iteration of Sense that we all now know and love really caught my eye. The virtual keyboard was better than I hoped, and apps were beginning to pour in faster and faster. It multitasked, and did Gmail well. It felt good in the hand. But something was missing from the experience.
I came to the conclusion that I liked HTC Sense, but I didn’t like Android, so I decided to get a HTC HD2 - HTC’s flagship Windows Mobile 6.5 phone running Sense.
Sense only went so deep in to WM6.5, and like Sybmian S60 before, Microsoft’s mobile OS just hadn’t been touch optimised, and despite HTC’s best efforts, WM6 just couldn’t be made attractive no matter how much proverbial lipstick was applied. Also, the 4.3” screened phone was too big for my hands :-/ And I like to walk and text one-handed without fear of dropping my phone.
So I decided to go back to Android, but I decided I wanted a hardware keyboard, and a screen somewhere between the Hero and the HD2, so I bought my first Motorola: The Milestone, aka the Euro Droid.
I enjoyed the Milestone for a few months due to its speed and power, little lag and sizeable screen for web-browsing. However typing on it wasn’t quite the joy I’d hoped it would be, and constantly turning the device landscape became tiresome. It changed the way I’d want to use the phone, inconsistent, unergonomic.
A year before, at CES 2009, Palm had announced their come back with the introduction of webOS and the Palm Pre. Delayed sales, faulty hardware and buggy software took the wind out of their newly washed sails and they spend the next year catching up and releasing new products with incremental changes, the Pre Plus, the Pixi Plus. webOS had caught my eye at CES09 but lost momentum since and those who would’ve gone for webOS instead went for the new batch of Android devices.
After reading the reviews about the Pixi Plus (imo what the Pixi should’ve been anyway) I was intrigued. I downloaded the webOS 1.4 SDK and set up the device in the emulator as I would in real life. A Google account for mail and calendar, a Google account JUST for contacts, Yahoo mail, Facebook for calendar, contacts and photo/video upload, Youtube account for video upload, and it all just…worked! Auto backup to my Palm Profile would mean easy restoration. A gorgeous UI, swiping gestures meant screen real estate was preserved by having no back or forward buttons and a keyboard to die for, Joshua Topolsky, formerly of Engadget, now in charge of This Is My Next agreed:
Look, we’re just going to say it: the Pixi’s keyboard is totally awesome. Admittedly, we weren’t expecting fireworks when we first laid eyes on this tiny QWERTY, but the experience of using it day to day has been nothing short of a revelation. You would think that the tight spacing and tiny keys would make typing a difficult task, but Palm has cleverly given the Pixi keyboard snappy tactile feedback and a substantial height boost, making tapping away a serious pleasure. Weirdly, typing on the Pixi keyboard is kind of like using the iPhone keyboard — they have a similar size, shape, and spacing — but of course, you’ve got the advantage of physical keys with the Pixi.
Taken from the Engadget Palm Pixi Review, Nov 2009
So I went ahead and found myself a UK GSM Pixi Plus, unlocked it to use my T-Mobile sim and began to use webOS as my new day to day mobile OS. And it was blissful. A joy, a pleasure, and every other positive adjective you can think of. But it was not without its negatives. The Pixi’s weak processor soon began to show in day to day use, and the smaller 2.6” screen and 400x320 resolution meant that the majority of apps in the Palm App Catalogue were not compatible. I loved webOS but I needed more power, more screen real estate, and more apps!
That’s when I made the jump to the Palm Pre Plus. it’s been almost a year I’ve owned this one, single phone, and since then, no Android, iOS, WP7, BB or Symbian phone has even made me look up from my Pre Plus. I installed Android 2.3 on my HD2, dual booting WP7, but both were frustrating to use, especially Android. The only phone I’ve wanted over my Pre Plus is the soon to be released (fingers crossed) HP Pre 3, which IS the next phone I will get.
So that’s a brief history of how I got from my original Nokia 3210 to my Palm Pre Plus. Stay tuned for more in depth looks at each OS I’ve used and the good and bad points of each.