Tactile Feedback Helps
The prototype includes a special touch screen and a virtual keyboard. The touch screen is much more robust than others we have seen, and a device in the phone provides tactile feedback when you push a virtual key. This feedback created the first virtual keyboard that I enjoyed using, and it makes a huge difference in the users experience, and likely in the users acceptance, of the new platform. When you touch a key, the phone pulses, similar to the feel you get in a force feedback mouse. It feels more natural, and you can actually tell through feel that the key was pushed. This was impressive, and it is worth checking out if you get a chance.I got hooked early on with reading books on my iPAQ (and now have trouble finding electronic books that will work on it), but this suggests a future use for a smart phone I hadnt anticipated. But we still have the display limitation, and its too darned small for reading. You can increase the text size, but this means you are turning a lot of pages, which would get old really quickly. Until fold-out displays make it to market, Im afraid we will be stuck with this display problem. Over the past year or so, Ive seen a number of technologies I thought would make a difference that havent made the cut to manufacturing, the last being a phone keyboard from ThinkOutside that was impressive. But in that case, the firm held the design too closely, and it wasnt picked up by anyone. A shame because it, too, was very impressive. An increasing number of interesting ideas are coming out of Europe. Another is an online TV gaming system that uses your cell phone as the controller and doesnt need a game consol from a company called Outerrim, but that is for another column and another time. Keep checking back, as we are entering the time of year when companies take their secrets out and share them with the analysts and, where Im allowed, Ill share them with you. Rob Enderle is the principal analyst for the Enderle Group, a company specializing in emerging personal technology. Check out eWEEKs Mobile & Wireless Center at http://wireless.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis. Be sure to add our eWEEK.com mobile and wireless news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:
For long documents, the device emulates a book, so you can use your finger to turn the virtual pages.