This past weekend, I flew to Florida to visit a friend who works at SeaWorld. It was definitely a fun trip... we visited Disney and went to the beach and had a really great time overall. During the flight back, however, I began thinking about how amazing it is that we have so much portable technology.
I only brought carry-on luggage... one regulation-sized suitcase, and one backpack. In my backpack, I had my iPod (160 GB, stuffed full of music, podcasts, and the latest episodes of Lost), a portable DVD player (6 hour battery life), some DVDs, and a book. My phone, a MyTouch, has an 'airplane' mode, so even though I couldn't make any calls on it, I was able to play games on it and read anything that had been downloaded to the memory card. I didn't bring my work laptop this time, but if I had, I would have been able to browse the internet on the flight, as there was wi-fi available on the plane. I even had access to XM radio via the plane itself, so even though I couldn't use any electronics during takeoff and landing, I still had a wide variety of music to listen to.
Contrast all of those options (for a mere 2 hour flight) with what we had just 20 years ago... books and walkmen?
In a way, it seems like there were almost too many options. Even though I never actually used my portable DVD player during either flight, I was still compelled to bring it. Knowing that there was free wi-fi on the plane made me want to bring a laptop, just to take advantage of it. I've wanted a Kindle for a while, and if I had one, I definitely would have brought that as well.
I wondered if we are ripe for consolidation efforts... some new wave of technology that promises to be your everything-in-one device. I know smartphones have been answering that need to some degree, but on a smaller scale. Then it occurred to me: is this what the iPad is trying to be? (The answer? Yes
.) Before now, I made fun of the iPad, and felt that its problem is that it doesn't know what it is trying to be or who it is trying to appeal to. Now I think I have a better understanding of what it is at least trying to accomplish. I'm not convinced that it is going to fill the void very WELL, but I at least see what void it is trying to fill.
Overall, I'm glad that I have so much portable technology. While it may seem like overkill to some, I like having options. I'm definitely interested to see what consolidation effort wins out, eventually.
Posted by on Sun, 21 Mar 2010