Every morning as I leave my house, I double-check that I have two things before I walk out the door — my Android-based smart phone and my laptop. I guess the digital apple truly doesn’t fall far from the electronic tree, because every morning I watch both my boys grab their iPods, cell phones, and laptops to go to school. At least their paper book load is very light due to online homework and testing. About the only nonelectronic things they carry are their skateboards.
Most people are no different. All that differs are the devices they carry with them. For some, it’s an iPod and smart phone, for others, an e-reader, laptop, and cell phone; and for still others, digital cameras, share points, GPS, and gaming devices. We all seem to be carrying multiple devices when we leave our homes to start the day. Not to mention all the cords, chargers, and other accessories we need to drag along.
While both of my devices provide me easy access to what I need (Internet, e-mail, writing tools, image editing, etc.), the smart phone is a bit cruder when it comes to input. Plain and simple: typing. I actually prefer a tactile keyboard to the touchscreen keyboard on some devices like the iPad. I’m not sure what the difference in typing speed is between the two keyboards, but the world record for texting is around 50 words/min compared to 216 words/min on a standard keyboard. I know we all don’t have that typing speed, but from a productivity point of view you can say typing is about 75% less productive on a smart phone than on a standard keyboard.
For device users, it all seems to come down to the intent they have for their devices. For me, it is a matter of productivity. The phone and the laptop help me get my work done as well as letting me have a bit of digital fun. But the smart phone just can’t provide the same level of tools and productivity I need, even if the reason is partially due to my human limitations.
For my teen boys, on the other hand, it is the reciprocal. A lot of what they do is relaying their experiences out digitally, whether it be art they’ve created or opinions they have. (Not all that different than what I and Estelle Zagaria, the artist who worked on this article, have done here. But that’s another article on its own.) All that can be done from a smart phone, but when my boys need super productivity to do some homework, create more elaborate art, or write reports, they turn to their laptops. When it comes to music, though, the device is all status symbol: It’s an iPod or nothing.
While by no means any type of official study, I recently asked the members of Electronic Products’ Facebook page (www.facebook.com/pages/Electronic-Products-Magazine/24662067330) what device they found most useful? Here are the results:
Smart Phone 30%
I think all afflicted device carriers feel the need to be relieved of their multiple devices. Personally, I think some day we’ll haul around only one device — a hybrid of a smart phone and laptop — but right now most of us will juggle multiple devices, even with the advent of the iPad. Let us see.