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Do You Really Need All Those Different Mobile Devices?

Do You Really Need All Those Different Mobile Devices?
Here at Retrevo, we often get the opportunity to try out a lot of new gear, and lately we have been checking out some of the latest mobile devices. The more we use them the stronger we feel you really do need all those devices. As two of our favorite marketing gurus, Trout and Reis once said; things don’t converge, they diverge or get segmented. This is as true for automobiles that have segmented into SUVs, minivans, sports cars and so on, as it is for gadgets that have segmented into categories like e-readers, tablets, smartphones and most recently phablets. Here’s a rundown of some gadgets and gear we’ve been testing.
The Ultimate Windows 8 Laptop vs. Apple’s MacBookWe’ll be the first to admit that we find ourselves using our laptops less and less but there’s still no substitute for a “real” computer with a “real” keyboard, running a “real” operating system that runs all the common apps, plug-ins and can be hooked up easily to projectors and other devices. As much as we appreciate the elegance and ease of use of Apple Macbooks, particularly the MacBook Air, The Thinkpad X1 Carbon Touch from Lenovo that we have been toting around, comes closest to perfection in a laptop. The Carbon Touch as the name says is made of lightweight carbon fiber which makes for a thin and light 14-inch laptop. This laptop has the latest Ivy Bridge processing power along with an SSD drive that makes for a very responsive machine. Perhaps the feature we like most is the touchscreen display which makes Windows 8 so much easier to use. We suspect we’ll see a touchscreen on a MacBook before too long unless Apple jumps right to a gesture controller like Leap Motion’s. The Carbon X1 not only offers the touchscreen for those times you want to reach out and tap, swipe or pinch Window’s Metro UI, but there’s also the little red nubbin familiar to many Thinkpad users or a versatile touchpad at your disposal. It’s also the little things that count like a USB 3.0 port, a USB 2.0 port that can be left on to charge a device when the machine is sleeping, a lighted keyboard, Lenovo’s rapid startup and shutdown feature and more. A fully loaded Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Touch will cost you a little more than a 13-inch MacBook Air but we think you’ll be happy with your purchase.
These Days, Everyone Needs a Tablet TooMany tablet users, including us, find themselves using their other computers less and less but as much as we love using our Apple iPad and Nexus 7 we would not want to give up our desktop or laptop computer even though there are plenty of situations where a tablet is just the right device. We feel the important question is not whether or not you should buy a tablet but whether to get a smaller, 7 or 8-inch one or a bigger 10-inch one. We’ve used both sizes and frankly find them both just right at times. Our $250, 32GB 7-inch Nexus 7 is handy to carry around and has lots of uses like when we added CoPilot and turned it into a large screen GPS on a motorcycle. We used to say no one needed a tablet but everyone wants one, now we’re pretty sure you need one too.
E-Reader Batteries Last ForeverYes, you can download and read books on your tablet, but for a little over $100 you can buy an e-reader like the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite that you almost never have to charge, is super light, and best of all, looks great in bright light like when you’re trying to read outdoors in bright sunlight a situation where most tablets and phones are pretty useless. Yes, there are drawbacks to an e-reader like that annoying flash as the screen changes or how limited a grayscale display is when you’re trying to read a webpage or magazine but we’ve been carrying the Kindle Paperwhite around with us wherever we go and have been very glad we have as we find ourselves with plenty of opportunities to read something on it while waiting for an airplane or riding on a bus.
Smartphones Are Getting LargerWe’re just going to put a smartphone on the list of must-carry devices as a given. Although we’ve used both Android and Apple smartphones most of us at Retrevo lean toward Apple iPhones although a lot us are eyeing the new Samsung Galaxy S 4 as our next phone. Lately, the choice between Apple and Android and even Microsoft involves a consideration for the tech ecosystem which includes apps, accessories, services, etc. The recent trend to supersize a smartphone into a “phablet” is an interesting development but we still feel uncomfortable holding one up to our ear to make a call. Although we don’t have a lot of experience with these new supersized smartphones we can understand the appeal of these devices although we wonder if Trout and Reis would see these as a convergence of two devices or a new segment. We’ve always wondered why no one is making a smaller smartphone; something more the size of a pack of gum. Of course, we’ll have to see what happens when all the watchphones start appearing later this year.
Desktops Can Be Personal Workstations or Countertop ComputersWhile we’re talking about all the computers we use on a daily basis, we shouldn’t leave out our personal workstation or as some still call it a desktop computer. As far as getting things done you still can’t beat the power and productivity you get with multiple monitors, high performance graphics, terabytes of storage, lots of apps open and running all at the same time, great audio for those multimedia projects and you get all of these things in a computer that makes little noise and you can leave running around the clock. We never cease to be amazed how much computing power you can get for a little over $1,000; basically a personal workstation that in the past would have cost $20,000. We keep reading about declining sales of desktops. Our suggestion to the industry is bring out workstation caliber apps that use aspects like 3D rendering to create new user experiences in a high performance environment.

The other desktop computer you need to consider is an all-in-one (AIO) PC. The Apple iMac is the most elegant one but doesn’t have a touchscreen like a lot of the others now running Windows 8. These computers look good on a desktop or kitchen countertop. Here’s a recent roundup of AIO PCs.

ConclusionAs we’re becoming more used to carrying around several devices in our backpack we’re more convinced that everyone will be using different mobile devices for different functions. We look forward to adding cyborg-glasses and a smartwatch to the mix in the future. Let us know what you think.

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