I Just Plain Don’t Want an All-In-One Device

Do you dream of having a Pip-Boy strapped to your wrist detailing your vital statistics, streaming communications, and – Why not? – playing video and audio files to your heart’s content? Hey, that’s fine with me; you can want whatever you want. Just don’t sign me up for your crazy future. I like my business and pleasure separate, thanks very much.

It’s hard to scan a gadget blog (something that I do on a daily basis) without seeing hype for some new device that does everything. Phones, tablets, computers and other electronic doodads are thrust upon us as solutions to every problem we have. They sound cool at first. “What? I can get my email, music, and movies on my phone? That’s great!” But it’s not great. It really isn’t.

For starters, the more you pack into one device, the lower the quality of each part tends to get. Take cell phone cameras, for example. They’re standard in phones at this point, but the picture quality is still far worse than even a cheap point-and-shoot camera. While a cell phone camera may do in a pinch, it just won’t hold up well to the real thing. The same goes for phones that play videos and audio files. Yes, they’re capable of doing the job, but that doesn’t mean they’re doing it well.

Even if you somehow manage to pack in a DSLR-quality camera, a slick FLAC player, a video phone and a Blu-ray drive onto a single device, I still don’t want it. It’s all too distracting.

When I sit down to write, I close my email and shut off my instant messaging. I don’t need communication getting in the way of creation. Being in contact with the outside world can make a simple 30-minute writing job into a two-hour struggle. If any emails come in or anyone calls me, I’ll be able to deal with it once I’m finished. Emails can be responded to, and calls can be returned.

I find distractions just as meddlesome when watching movies. Why bother getting a Blu-ray player and a slick television if you’re constantly distracted? I don’t need emails and phone calls popping up on my screen, and I definitely don’t need to access Twitter or Facebook while I’m engrossed in whatever I happen to be watching.

Don’t get me wrong, I love sitting around and riffing on bad movies with my friends, or enjoying a comedy or an action movie with my buddies. But if it’s something I really care about, something I’m going to be engrossed in, any outside interference is just a distraction. Try watching ‘Schindler’s List’ while carrying on a text conversation. It’s just not the same.

Multi-function devices I’ll take. A Blu-ray player that does Netflix just makes sense. Game systems that play Blu-rays… Sure, why not? Aside from that, I’ve got a phone for my phone calls, a computer for my emails, and a PS3 to handle my Blu-rays. Never the three shall meet. Not if I have anything to do with it, anyway.


  1. I used to feel this way, until I finally broke down and got a smartphone (Motorola Droid). Now I can’t live without it. It actually plays music and videos extremely well, and is a great portable internet device. Photos are mediocre, sure, but I don’t do any serious photography anyway. They’re adequate for what I need.

    About the only thing the phone does poorly is… you know, be a phone. It kind of sucks at that. It drops calls all the time, and the reception quality is terrible. 🙂

  2. J.R.

    I actually agree with the general observation in this article, but I must admit that I get addicted to distractions. I think it’s a trend among the digital crowd to get addicted to multi-tasking, because it trains your brain to be hyperactive, with the drawback of not being able to focus for any amount of time. I love my iTouch and xbox, they’re my favorite things. But damn if it isn’t hard to get anything done. 🙂

  3. Jane Morgan

    I don’t want an all-in-one phone, but I would totally buy an all-in-one tablet, as soon as the technology falls into place.

    iPhone4 looks kind of sexy, but imagine an iPad5. 14″ screen, 300 dpi. All the content in the cloud. 100 Mbps wimax. Every movie, game, song, ever made, instantly. Unlimited access for a reasonable monthly subscription.

    2 hours per day with the 150″ wall screen, 4-6 hours per day on the tablet. A phone just for calls, or little random moments. It’s not about multi-tasking. It’s about fitting my lifestyle.

    If this tablet existed, I wouldn’t be borrowing Seinfeld on dvd from my local library, teaching my five year old profanity when the scratched disc refuses to play and I miss three episodes.

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