Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Hardware

Mobile Phone Users Struggle With Hardware Adoption 386

Posted by samzenpus
from the use-it-or-lose-it dept.
Ian Lamont writes "A Google executive speaking at the Emerging Technology conference has described a problem that mobile phone carriers and manufacturers have been struggling with over the last few years: Users aren't taking advantage of many phones' hardware-based features. Rich Miner, Google's group manager of mobile platforms, stated that 80% of mobile phones being sold today have cameras on them, yet the number of people who actually know how to use them or get the images off the phones ranges between 10% and 50%, depending on the model. Miner listed several reasons for this state of affairs, including bad UIs and small screens, but added that the participation of companies with software expertise — including Google — would help increase usage of such features."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Mobile Phone Users Struggle With Hardware Adoption

Comments Filter:
  • by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot AT davidgerard DOT co DOT uk> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @06:49PM (#25144403) Homepage

    It's obvious what we need: something that gives you the freedom you need, on an open platform, with full open hardware and free software, all the way down the stack, so that users can get the features they want, and innovative developers can create interfaces that let people take full advantage of them in the most intuitive and obvious way possible. The GNUPhone. Operated from the command line. [today.com]

    • People don't care (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Twigmon (1095941) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @07:03PM (#25144615) Homepage

      The average consumer is not interested in learning how to user another device. They don't have the time or interest. I use my phone for all sorts of things: creating maps, navigation, photos, music player. A lot of the things I do with my phone are seen almost as science fiction by people like my parents.

      The thing is though - if my parents were to spend the time to learn how to use all of their phone's features - it probably wouldn't improve their quality of life at all.

      I can't see how more than 50% of the population would ever be bothered enough to learn how to use all of their phone's features even if they were dirt simple to use. It's just one of the facts of life that us geeks need to be willing to accept.

      • Re:People don't care (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @07:17PM (#25144789)

        I don't know about that, the real problem is that it's difficult to get a decent phone without a lot of extraneous features. I didn't want most of the features my phone came with, but there weren't really any decent choices which didn't have them.

        I don't need or want a camera, mp3 player, date book/calendar or java interface is my phone, and I wouldn't have gotten a phone which had most of those features if not for the extremely limited options without.

        But in a sense worse is that the camera, mp3 player and calendar are included but at least with motorola you're stuck paying for additional software if you actually want them to be at all useful.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Shotgun (30919)

          I don't carry a cell-phone. The last thing I need is another leash for people to yank. But my wife is a real-estate agent, where it is pratically required. The has one with all the bells and whistles.

          Let's look at the features:

          - Mobile internet access. A ridiculous ($40?) fee every month so that she can get spotty internet access at modem speeds on a 3 inch screen.

          - GPS. Tried to use it once trying to find my son's wrestling at an away match. It was so far off (opposite side of the town) that we've ne

      • Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @08:06PM (#25145281)

        90% of the people never have a NEED to take a picture with a cell phone. If all you had to do was point it and say 'Fido, take picture, send to Jane' it still wouldn't interest 50% of the population, they just plain don't need or want to take pictures. If they really DO want a picture, they want a good picture.

        So basically there are 2 issues here, one being people aren't all that interested, and secondly the extra gewgaw features on phones really aren't all that great. The cameras are mostly marginal to almost useless, etc.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rnturn (11092)

          ``take picture, send to Jane''

          If... you've paid the phone company for the ability to send the picture off the phone. I haven't spent the extra time to find one that doesn't require the extra fees to "send the picture" but from the modest amount of checking (and I'm sure dozens of Slashdotters will kindly inform me of those companies I overlooked) I find that that's pretty much standard. I'd prefer it if the darned phones merely plugged into your USB port and you could pull the darned photos off the camera

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by robably (1044462)
            Sony Ericsson K750i [wikipedia.org] or anything from that series. Connect with Bluetooth or USB, compatible with iPhoto (for photos and videos) and iCal/iSync/Address Book to sync everything else. It has a very good 2MP camera (examples [flickr.com]) and something like 2 weeks of standby time.

            The K750i is a very old phone now - it came out in 2005 - but that means it's cheap (under £30 on eBay) so you don't have to worry about losing or dropping it.

            Of course I'm using it unlocked, PAYG, on Orange in the UK. YMMV.
          • Re:Exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Nursie (632944) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @07:02AM (#25149089)

            "I'd prefer it if the darned phones merely plugged into your USB port and you could pull the darned photos off the camera yourself. Haven't found one that'll let you do that yet. For now I'll carry the camera along with the phone."

            Every phone in europe. If not as a USB mass storage device (many are) or Bluetooth equivalent, then with some free (as in beer) software that comes with the phone.

            Seriously. This is why people don't use these feature, the US market is extremely warped by the networks sucking money out of people for no good reason, to the extent that people seem to be scared to do anything with the phone other than make calls in case they get stuck with an enormous bill.

        • Re:Exactly (Score:4, Informative)

          by DigiShaman (671371) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @12:01AM (#25147077) Homepage

          90% of the people never have a NEED to take a picture with a cell phone.

          I rarely use my cell phone, but I have found it to be quite usefull in the times I've needed it.

          A few examples include: Pictures of someone parking so close to me, I need a can opener. Pictures of a jobsite for collaboration. Pictures taken of a co-workers car after being broken into. Pictures of a car wreck moments after it happend to show "who's at fault", etc.

          I'm sure they're are may other uses. But using it as a tool to CYA has proven invaluable to me.

    • by Otter (3800)
      The funny thing is that your link:

      The phone will also serve as a versatile personal media player. "I can play any .au file or H.120 video with a single shell command! The iPod could never measure up to this powerful ease of use." Video is rendered into ASCII art with aalib. "If blocky ASCII teletype softcore pinups were good enough for 1970s minicomputer operators, they're good enough for you. Respect your elders."

      isn't that much sillier than the article's comment:

      The Google Android will compete with the iP

    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @07:14PM (#25144763)
      Users don't want features. They want benefits.

      They don't care whether these are free and open source or not - all they care about is getting what they want, at a reasonable price.

      Taking the camera example, many people don't want to use a crappy (as many phone cameras are) phone camera to take a picture and then download it via a USB cable into their computer, or screw around with SD cards etc. Give them an end-to-end solution where they snap their pic and it automagically ends up in Picassa/whatever. That would make them happy so long as the cost of doing so is a few cents per picture.

      • by Mitreya (579078)
        many people don't want to use a crappy (as many phone cameras are) phone camera to take a picture and then download it via a USB cable into their computer,

        You are absolutely correct. In addition, many people don't want to find a cable that would transfer this data (I bought my phone specifically because it has a proper mini-USB port, but not all do) and many people don't want to pay $20-$40 for a software that lets you talk to your phone, because it would *not* show up as a USB device...

        • by Bieeanda (961632)
          Amen to that. I've got a Motorola V220, and recent versions of the truly shitty HelloMoto interface software don't even recognize the thing. For that matter, it doesn't seem to recognize the Razr, according to reports, either.

          Of course, the cell providers don't give a shit about this. I had to go out of my way to get my hands on that software, because my provider doesn't sell it, or admit that it exists. What they want, is to charge me a buck (or worse) just to transfer a 20KB ringtone through their net

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by aeoo (568706)

        "They don't care whether these are free and open source or not - all they care about is getting what they want, at a reasonable price."

        This is not true. I'm a user and I do care whether something is free and open source. It's not ALL I care about, sure, but I do care.

        So, while you are ultimately right anyway, it is all about what I want at a reasonable price, what I want is a broader, deeper and more profound "thing" than you realize.

        I realize that little decisions I make impact the greater state of thing

        • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @09:15PM (#25145871)
          Who is this "we" you're talking about? You're a FOSS geek, not a typical user.

          Typical users don't care if Google or MS or ATT have monopolies, so long as they get what they want at a reasonable cost. Nor do they care if their phones or sneakers are made in a sweat shop or whether the workers have the vote and have medical benefit, so long as they get them at a reasonable cost. Nor do they care whether Starbucks or Budweiser open sources their recipes so long as they get a drink at a reasonable price. Same deal with cars, etc etc.

          Very few people really value freedom unless they are being personally hampered by it. Heck only around 50% of eligible Americans vote and they supposedly value democracy!

          Still, even these Open Source phones are still closed at some level. Try to get the design files for the chips and GSM module.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by aeoo (568706)

            I say "we" because I am not alone. I don't know how many people think like I do, but I know that there are enough people for me to be comfortable using "we" in that context.

            I don't identify with geeks or any other group. I like software and I like FOSS in particular and I have nothing against geeks if that's what they want to be, but I don't think of myself as a geek (or as anything else for that matter).

            "Very few people really value freedom unless they are being personally hampered by it."

            If I look aroun

    • I must say, that's one of the best selections of moderation a comment of mine has ever received.

  • Connectivity (Score:2, Informative)

    by sdemjanenko (1296903)
    So many of these phone can connect to the inet, but give me a nice sd card and regular headphone jack anyday. That why I keep my palm over an iphone.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by peragrin (659227)

      um the iphone 3g has a regular jack, the sd card isn't needed because as soon as you plug your ihpone into your mac it automatically downloads every new image from the camera into iphoto.

      also sd cards have a nasty habit of getting lost or broken at least with me. I need something that doesn't bend in half easily.

      All that said I don't use the camera on my iphone not because I can't use but it sucks compared to my 5 megapixel digital camera with sd cards(that I have lost 2 of). The simple fact is I use my i

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mabhatter654 (561290)

        iPhone's camera is pathetic for a company that's whole "reason for being" is media creation. And what's with the lack of good video? The new blackberry phones have pretty good 3 MP cameras that are decent for "snap and go", and they take video and have SD card slots. For taking lots of pictures or video you really need removable media. It means you have as much storage as you want to buy, and because SD chips go up to 32GB now, that's a lot of extra space compared to iPhone.

  • by modemboy (233342) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @06:50PM (#25144435)

    Or perhaps it might also involve the locking down of phones by carriers?
    If you can't use bluetooth for file transfer because the carrier locked it out, it makes it harder to get pics off. If you can't use the phone as a usb mass storage device because the carrier is worried about you copying ringtones yourself, obviously getting the pics off will be hard.

    That said, this "article" contains almost no useful information, so maybe Righ Miner had some better examples than the pictures...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @06:57PM (#25144517)

      Amen! The fact that AT&T charges more for an unlimited data plan than I currently pay to browse the web at home on a real computer is also a joke. And then AT&T expects me to pay even MORE if I want to use my phone as a Bluetooth modem? What, do I get a higher data rate if I surf that way instead of on the phone alone? It's all a big scam just ripe for an upstart company to come in and undercut all of them.

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @07:00PM (#25144575) Journal

      Or perhaps it might also involve the locking down of phones by carriers?

      I came here to say that, but that really isn't the end of the problem.

      How many people do you know who RTFM?
      Or even bother to check out the nooks and crannies of their phone?
      (For some reason, the "settings" icon is always on the bottom right)

      After a minute or two, I usually know more about the features of someone's phone than they do.

      • by blantonl (784786) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @07:31PM (#25144917) Homepage

        How many people do you know who RTFM?

        Have you ever tried to read a manual for any cell phone? It is usually 200+ pages, in 5 different languages. With wire diagrams, keys to press, page after page.

        Frankly, there is no need for an instruction manual. If a user cannot pickup the device and begin to use 80% of the features within a few days, then the user interface, the device, and the concept, is broken.

        Lindsay

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mcsqueak (1043736)

      obviously getting the pics off will be hard.

      Weird file formats are also an issue. I have a Samsung slider phone (T-809 I think) with T-Mobile, and it's pretty easy to use, actually... but movies recorded with the onboard camera are stored in some sort of weird file format, that I guess I have to run through Samsung's software to decode if I want to watch them on my PC. Thanks but no thanks. I even tried simply renaming the extension, but that didn't work either.

      The funny thing is, by simply renaming a .mp3 into a .m4u (or something like that) I was a

    • by samkass (174571) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @07:11PM (#25144711) Homepage Journal

      My guess is that this article is just flat-out wrong. I know when I plug my iPhone into my Mac it backs it up, syncs all my contacts, music, and apps, and shows me a preview of all the photos on the phone and asks me if I want to download them in iPhoto. My guess is more than 50% of folks know how to click the "Import" button. It's true that most iPhone users are Windows users, but even there it's pretty easy to sync.

      I think Google has selective attention that completely excludes the iPhone right now.

      • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @08:25PM (#25145457) Journal

        My guess is that this article is just flat-out wrong. I know when I plug my iPhone into my Mac ...

        My guess is that he wasn't talking about iPhones. I use a Samsung..... something or other and I've yet to figure out how to get photos off the damn thing or how to lose that annoying 'ringback tone' that I had no idea what it was when I got it and now people don't like when they call me. Nor can I manage my image folders, there's no way to rename them or add new folders. And there's no quick way to delete the dozens of black pictures that it keeps taking on the inside of my pocket.

        And when I go through the laboriously slow process of reading email on the damn thing, it won't let me see pdf or doc attachments. Bottom line: I hate the damn thing and I'm getting an iPhone.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sttlmark (737942)
      Mod parent up. I have a nice, feature rich BlackBerry, but the Verizon crippled the coolest features: Bluetooth will only communicate with a wireless headset, and the GPS is disabled until you fork over an additional $10/month (even 3rd party apps like Google Maps can't use the GPS until you pay Verizon).

      Evidently Verizon is notorious for this kind of thing, but I didn't do my homework before buying the phone.
    • by Vandil X (636030) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @07:30PM (#25144913)
      The International market has superior,interchangeable-carrier phones, open plans, and phones that aren't locked down or restricted in any non-fair use way. And they have case law to keep things fair.

      For some US customers, pressing a button can result in opening an Internet application that charges a terrible data rate or something else that's both costly and unintentional. So some US users opt to just not try to poke around much beyond phone functionality and camera use.
  • by jshackney (99735) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @06:50PM (#25144439) Homepage

    Actually, I just want a phone. Not a friggin' handheld multimedia device.

    • by icydog (923695) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @06:57PM (#25144535) Homepage
      That's great. Then buy one of the 20% of phones without a camera and quit whining like a grumpy old lawn patrol. It's not like there aren't choices available for you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by knarfling (735361)

        Not always an option.

        For example. I want a cell phone with a speaker because sometimes my wife and I want to hear and contribute to the conversation at the same time. (Usually it is to my extended family, but sometimes to friends.) Plus, I wanted one that would receive text messages (pages from work) that I could look at without opening the phone and jumping through hoops to shut the beeper off. However, when looking at phones, only a few have speakers. In order to get one with a decent battery and a speake

        • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @08:36PM (#25145563) Homepage

          so i guess handset makers need to make phones with just single features--one that only has a speaker function, one that only has an mp3 playback function, one that only has a camera, and one that only displays text messages without opening the phone, etc.?

          oh, but wait, you want a phone that both has a speaker _and_ allows you to receive text messages/pages easily. so i guess in addition to one model per feature, they also need a model for each permutation of features (any 2 features, any 3 features, any 4 features, any 5 features, any 6 features, ..., etc.).

          so if Nokia wanted to provide a line of phones with just 4 different features, they would need to make 15 models, plus 1 without any of those features. if they want to let consumers choose from 6 different features, they'd need to make 64 models--and that's not even counting product options that require calculating non-binary permutations (ie. color schemes).

          now let's see how many features the average smart phone might have:

          1. Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g)
          2. bluetooth
          3. microSD memory slot
          4. camera/camcorder
          5. voice recorder
          6. e-mail support
          7. instant messaging
          8. video phone calls
          9. document viewer (pdf, .doc, .ppt, .xls, .jpg, .png, .gif, etc.)
          10. web browser
          11. mobile TV/DVB-H
          12. mobile radio
          13. mobile printing
          14. mp3 playback
          15. games/java support
          16. qwerty keyboard
          17. personal organizer/calendar
          18. touch screen
          19. fax (receive)
          20. word processor
          21. GPS/navigation hardware
          22. IrDA
          23. EDGE
          24. Ev-DO
          25. CDMA
          26. GPRS
          27. GSM
          28. 3G
          29. HSDPA
          30. HSUPA
          31. UMTS
          32. FM Radio
          33. USB port
          34. walkie-talkie/Push-to-Talk

          so i guess each handset maker needs at least 17,179,869,184 models to encompass all these features. but even then i'm sure you'll still complain that your phone comes with 64MB of internal memory when all you need is 56MB, or that it runs Symbian OS when you want Android or Windows Mobile.

      • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @07:52PM (#25145137) Homepage

        this banal argument crops up in _every_ single /. article about cellphones.

        and the answer is the same every single time. as icydog and countless others have replied, there are tons of cheap phones with minimal features.

        the only reason camera phones are so visible and common is because they're popular with consumers. it's useful having a camera on your person at all times, and most people don't need a $3000 DSLR for their uses. with point and shoot cameras becoming smaller and cheaper, it's simply more convenient to incorporate this feature into a device that people carry with them most of the time, such as a cellphone.

        if you work somewhere where camera-phones aren't allowed (like a court house) then just select a phone without a camera. how hard is that? certain handset makers, such as Nokia, even have models that have a no-camera option. this CNET article [cnet.com] even compares 5 popular big brand phones that are camera-free (or have the option of being so). so stop complaining.

      • by potat0man (724766)
        Oh hear hear! Finally!

        Like he said, get back to your lawn patrol!
    • by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @06:58PM (#25144545)
      Exactly. Maybe they should have also asked how many people even gave a rip if their phone HAD a camera? The pictures from cell phones SUCK. Mine obviously has one and I never use it unless I've got nothing else and I MUST have a picture (did that once for a car accident).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tglx (664015)

      There are still real phones. Just google for Motorola F3. It's a real phone w/o any multimedia crap. The only extra is an alarm clock which I consider to be useful. And it has a display which I can read w/o my glasses.

      There is another goodie: the battery life time is enormous simply because it does not have that extra useless crap

      tglx

    • Yep ...

      Sure it's got a camera ... with a small CCD that has tons of noise who cares what the pixels are, the images generally are lackluster when compared to 'real' cameras. Great for taking a picture in a pinch when you need to document something, but in general not worth sharing. And for the most part they are a pain in the ass to use. Although my Razr phone can use the camera without even opening it, my wife's Samsung piece of shit she has never used because it takes to long to enable the camera. It's a

      • The camera is good enough to take pictures after that fender bender you get in. Plus, you know where it is, and it's charged up because you use it every day for everything else.

    • Yes, and you can have one, just google consumer cellular.

    • I thought so once, too, but the just-a-phones are out, and cheap. As it turns out, I like the cameras and multimedia, text messaging, web, and gps features.

      Although.. every phone should have gps, since they've all got it built-in anyway so the carriers don't have to put any effort into triangulating.

  • Camera phones (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mononoke (88668) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @06:55PM (#25144503) Homepage Journal

    Rich Miner, Google's group manager of mobile platforms, stated that 80% of mobile phones being sold today have cameras on them, yet the number of people who actually know how to use them or get the images off the phones ranges between 10% and 50%, depending on the model. Miner listed several reasons for this state of affairs, including bad UIs and small screens...

    How about the fact that cameras are added to phones as an afterthought, and they'll always suck because they cannot have useful lenses.

    • by kesuki (321456)

      i know phone cameras are kind of an 'after thought' but people bring their phones everywhere! who brings a digital SLR with a bag full of lenses depending on if you want mega zoom or normal point and shoot?

      there are times you get really nice pictures or video clips with a phone built in camera that you'd never get with a digital camera because you didn't have it with you, or even if you carried it around everywhere the batteries died on you without you knowing it...

      that's why i'd like to see phone cameras g

  • Carriers listen up! What this means is 50-90% of your paying customers don't care about this "free after 2 year contract" camera phonethat does everything from (mobile intarweb, SMS, MMS, musictones, and roadside assistance).

    No, these are crap features that I will NEVER be used by 50-90% of your subscriber base because:
    1. The general public that is over 31.4 years of age doesn't care about such frivolous crap.
    2. You charge way too much for these services.

    Just stop it and go back to being the phone compan

  • I don't get it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ivandavidoff (969036) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @06:58PM (#25144541)
    "Google's Rich Miner has identified one of the biggest problems facing mobile phone carriers, manufacturers, and developers: The hardware on the current generation of phones is not being used by many customers."

    Why is this a problem? Isn't this like fretting that 60% of Dodge Caravan owners don't use the rear-seat cup holders? Maybe people just don't want to take pictures with their phones.
    • by Myrv (305480)

      I guessing it's a "problem" because the carriers don't get to charge their transfer tax if you don't have any pictures/soundbites/songs/whatever to transfer.

      • by twostar (675002)
        It's a problem because they're paying for those extra's to the phone manufacturer. So instead of subsidizing a $100 phone they could be subsidizing a $50 and still get the same monthly rate out of the customer. Customer gets a phone without all these extra's that aren't used and the company saves some money.
    • by mpoulton (689851)

      "Google's Rich Miner has identified one of the biggest problems facing mobile phone carriers, manufacturers, and developers: The hardware on the current generation of phones is not being used by many customers."

      Why is this a problem? Isn't this like fretting that 60% of Dodge Caravan owners don't use the rear-seat cup holders? Maybe people just don't want to take pictures with their phones.

      Why is this a problem? Isn't this like fretting that 60% of Dodge Caravan owners don't use the rear-seat cup holders?

      If the rear-seat cup holders accounted for a substantial percentage of the Caravan's cost and design complexity, then that would be a problem, indeed.

  • by Skapare (16644) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @06:59PM (#25144559) Homepage

    The phone should be able to store the photos and transfer them directly (for example a USB port plugging into a home computer just like a regular camera does). Transferring them immediately should be an option, of course. But wise people would do that only when they need to (urgency of sending the photo, or they have filled up their flash memory and need more space back).

    FYI, I've yet to take even one photo with my phone. I use a digital SLR for photos.

  • by Gonoff (88518) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @07:01PM (#25144587)

    I am probably one of the majority.
    If I want to look at the internet, I like a big screen.
    If I want to take pictures, I want 10 megapixels.
    If I want to send someone some words, I want a keyboard.

    My phone is really good for me speaking to someone. That is what I use it for. I could use skype on my laptop but the phone has a better form factor.

    At work I find multifunction devices a bad thing. Scanners scan good, faxes fax, printers print and so on. Those clever boxes that do all three, never seem to do any of them as well.
    If my phone plays music as well as an mp3 player, that's good but there are few other things I have seen mobile phones do as well as the original devices.

    • by Arimus (198136)

      Amen to that... pity you don't work in a position to influence handset manufacturers:

      I want a phone which is primarily a phone first and foremost. I don't care how many pixels the camera has, if I want to get a good photo I'll use either my point and shoot or my DSLR, if I want to browse the internet I'll use my N800 or my pda.

      If only handset manufacturers would remember the most important ability for a phone is the ease of making calls alot of people would have an easier time.

    • by bendodge (998616)

      Those clever boxes that do all three, never seem to do any of them as well.

      I'd agree that's true with your average coupon/bundled multifunction printers, but I have to say that the HP Officejet Pro 7600's are awesome. It's got everything I could want: built-in ethernet printer server with http interface, color LCD screen with usable resolution, an embedded OS smart enough to print stuff directly off an SD card, a normal scan bed and a copier-style scan slot (they may use the same optics, I'm not sure), auto-duplexing, etc. The only thing it's missing is wireless.

      You get what you p

    • If I want to take pictures, I want 10 megapixels

      If you are going to print 4 by 6, I doubt if you could
      see the difference between a 2 MP & a 10 MP camera.
      If you are going to print 5 by 7, there would be little
      diff between a 3 or 4 MP & a 10 MP camera.

      So what size are you printing that you need a 10 MP camera?

      Are you printing something to cover the side of your house?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DMUTPeregrine (612791)
        You can never add resolution. So if you have a 4 MP camera, and you crop the image, and then want to zoom, and then need to do something else (adjust white balance, etc, etc) you will get a lower-quality end result than with a 10MP. The higher the MP the more you can edit the picture after the fact.
        That said, most people don't edit much, so it won't be useful. Also, lens quality and sensor size tends to matter far more than MP number after 4-5 MP.
  • by keraneuology (760918) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @07:03PM (#25144607) Journal
    The Samsung i730 non-camera PDA/smartphone is exactly what I need and want, but I need a replacement as it is showing the wear and tear. I want a smartphone just like this but WITHOUT A *&!*&@ CAMERA! I go in and out of courtrooms and secure facilities all the time. I want to keep my phone with me and I don't want to leave it out in the car where it could be stolen or - even worse - ring without me being there to answer it. Verizon refuses to sell me the phone I want claiming that Samsung and Motorola told them that such phones can't be made. I had an email exchange with Motorola about this issue: Me: I want a bluetooth-enabled smartphone/PDA without a camera. Verizon says that you are refusing to make one. Them: We don't sell cellphones. Talk to Verizon. Me: I did talk to Verizon. They say you won't produce the phone I want to buy. Them: We make cellphones very happy good. Me: I will give you money if you give me a cell phone that has the features I want. Them: ?Script_error
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @07:03PM (#25144611) Journal
    I admit that my situation is worse than many(el-cheapo-with-contract verizon phone); but I hardly get the impression that the carrier or the manufacturer are struggling to get me to use the phone's hardware features.

    Verizon cripples bluetooth on all non smartphones they sell(headset only, no obex etc) in order to force you to buy media from their overpriced store and encourage you to use the phone camera to send MMSes. They don't package cables or software for connecting to computers with their basic phones(or even attempt to upsell you on such accessories). Going directly through the manufacturer and/or with third party utilities, it is possible to connect the phone to a computer, and with a bit of hacking I've heard tethering is even possible.

    I don't mean to underestimate the stupidity and willful ignorance of users; but this is mostly the carriers problem. Their obsession with all-data-must-be-transferred-through-our-network-and-paid-for is particularly troublesome. If cell companies sold computers, you'd need a family plan and a SIM card for each of your peripherals. 10 bucks a month would cover your mouse's connection. Depending on how much you used it, you could pay for right clicks at 5 cents a piece, or 5.99 for unlimited right clicks.
    • by m85476585 (884822)
      That is exactly why I HATE Verizon. Cellphones could do so many things, but Verizon make almost everything impossible to do without paying them. For example, I just want to put my own ring tone on my phone, but they won't let me. I tried hacks like renaming an MP3 wile to whatever format they want it in (.q??) with the same name as an existing ringtone and copying it to my MicroSD card, but the phone refused to let me set the file as a ring tone, even though I could see it and play in in the list of reco
  • Has anyone at Google considered that the reason I have a phone with a camera is because it's hard to get a decent phone that doesn't have a crappy built-in camera? If I want to take pictures, I'll use something with optics that don't suck.

    Likewise for the address book, the text input (gag!), the audio (which is a spectacular pain to use anyway) sucks, the Internet access costs a body part per page and is unreadable anyway, and so on.

    they suck bricks! Get me a touchscreen phone that's basically my Palm T

  • I had a StarTac on my Verizon Wireless plan -- a family share plan. It was grandfathered in and life was good.

    When I wanted to give someone else a new phone with my New Every Two freebie, I'd move my StarTac to their line, activate my "new" phone on my line, then re-activate my StarTac on my line, and activate the new phone on theirs. I had high wattage output and a phone that I really liked. REALLY liked.

    Then once after two years, I forgot. And the StarTac fell off. No amount of pleading with customer

  • Camera Phones (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @07:27PM (#25144881) Homepage

    Let's look at the problem with camera phones. I'm on my third, an iPhone 3G.

    • Lens: The lenses are pathetic, but what do you expect for something that has to be 3mm across and 1mm deep. Don't forget they are made of plastic and usually designed to cost about $0.001. You'll never get a decent picture out of them. The best camera phone photos I've seen come from phones with standard hand-held digicam size sensors and lenses, which are closer to cameras with phone functionality tacked on.
    • Sensor: Again, when your sensor is 1x1mm, you're not going to get good pictures in anything under bright sun. If you can't take a picture indoors, what's the point? Oh, right, you added a "flash". One small semi-bright whiteish LED is not a "flash".
    • Getting the picture: The iPhone is great here. Plug it into my computer, and iPhoto imports it like any other camera. I could also email it. Yet with my Razr I either had to put it on the little micro-sd card, find the adapter and mess with that, use a strange program like Bitpim (not the friendliest), or just send it in an MMS (at a large cost to me).

    Lets face it, things like cameras are crammed on the phone as a bullet point and no thought is given to how it operates or how easy it is for someone to use.

    My mom has never used the photo function on either of here two camera capable phones (the previous one she owned, and the current). She can't get the photos off (would need a special cable and software) except by sending them for $0.25 each (or whatever insane price Sprint charges).

    Heck, that's what my parents (and most "normal" people I've run across) have learned about their phones. They do neat things, and each one comes with a horrendously expensive charge. Phone calls are one thing, but text messages are $0.10 each unless you pay monthly. Web browsing is useful, except you pay $0.25 per KB unless you pay monthly. Games are fun, but they cost at least $5 to buy and most must be bought on a subscription basis (every 30 days or 3 months it's another $5).

    Lesson they learned? Don't use the phone for anything but as a phone, it's too expensive.

    • by tuxedobob (582913)

      Bingo. Want people to use more phone features? Stop charging an arm and a leg.

    • by Dynedain (141758)

      My mom has never used the photo function on either of here two camera capable phones (the previous one she owned, and the current). She can't get the photos off (would need a special cable and software) except by sending them for $0.25 each (or whatever insane price Sprint charges).

      Hell, my mom has never used the photo function on her iPhone. She loves how easy it is to use the contact list and email, but anything beyond that she doesn't use. She didn't want to switch from her Windows Treo (which she loathe

    • Heck, that's what my parents (and most "normal" people I've run across) have learned about their phones. They do neat things, and each one comes with a horrendously expensive charge. Phone calls are one thing, but text messages are $0.10 each unless you pay monthly. Web browsing is useful, except you pay $0.25 per KB unless you pay monthly. Games are fun, but they cost at least $5 to buy and most must be bought on a subscription basis (every 30 days or 3 months it's another $5).

      You missed out perhaps the biggest mobile phone scam in the US: paying to receive calls and texts. And usually at the same rate as it costs to make them, no less! Now spam texts and robodialers not only waste your time, they actually cost you money too!

      Would you "bend over and take it" in the same way if it was your landline?

  • Disregarding the camera freaks' shrieking about a qvga resolution ccd with professional lenses giving better results than a 5 megapixel camera phone, I find the biggest drawback to the camera on my phone is that it only takes pictures 5 to 10 seconds after I am pointing it at the thing i want to photograph and pressing the button.
    WTF is it doing, and why can't it start doing it as soon as i open the lens cover and start aiming?

       

  • and hobbling the phones.

    Mostly I don't care about these things. The few times I have, it's been a total pain to find out they want some money for this, disabled that, branded and broke this, and so on....

    Funny, my kids ended up with a cheap ass Cricket phone plan. Mostly in city, moderate coverage, the usual discount deal. However, all the stuff on their phones just works and guess what? They use the hell out of it!

    Most people would explore and play with their phones more, if they didn't fear some bulls

  • "80% of mobile phones being sold today have cameras on them, yet the number of people who actually know how to use them or get the images off the phones ranges between 10% and 50%, depending on the model"

    "80% of mobile phones being sold today have cameras on them, yet the number of people who actually know how to use them or get the images off the phones ranges between 10% and 50%, depending on [att.com] the [1800mobiles.com] CARRIER [devicetime.com]"

    There, fixed that for ya.

    Verizon is legendary for crippling phones, forcing you to use their website s

  • Apple ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dindi (78034) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @07:54PM (#25145157) Homepage

    I am a software engineer, just for the record, and I have to admit that most of my phones are HARD to use, they are painful, and they constantly have connection problems.

    My last phone before my iphone (which I admit LACKS a lot of features) was a business edition $600 phone.

    When I tried to connect it to my windows machine, I had to pirate bluetooth software, because the one that came with my various dongles (I have like 5 here) were .. umh.. CRAP. Then the supplied nokia software worked, then did not, then found my phone, then did not, then crashed, then .. you name it.

    I know that according to many geeks and nerds an iphone is a toy, a shit, it lack function, and 3g and blabla .....

    But I connect the thing, it downloads my pictures, syncs my calendar I can drag and drop music, and it just works.

    Yes you guessed, I also switched to a mac, and do my office and freelancing work on a mac (mostly PHP, some ASP, some widget (yahoo, osx) programming and network/infrastructure/UNIX-Linux consulting) ....

    Yeah you guessed, it is more for the UNIX for me than for anything else, but my iphone is my first phone I actually use to the limit, because it is not a PAIN IN THE ARSE to use...

    Oh some people say it sucks as a phone. I am not sure, I make 2 calls tops a day, and keep them short, so not sure. It still rocks as a wireless device, and when a decent SIP client comes out on it and Fring, I stop carrying my nokia (which I use as a wifi phone at the office, as there is no reception whatsoever there (kinda like a basement in a hole under 4 stories of concrete. has big windows though :)))

  • I got a phone with a decent camera, micro-SD port, and GPS. But when I asked what I needed to do for basic stuff like using the GPS or sending photos, I was told that I had to sign up for their entire internet and data package, which would have added more than 50% to my monthly bill before data charges.

    To hell with that. I don't need expensive data services I will never use just so I can use my phone as a GPS. I can buy a separate GPS for less than the cost of 5 months of the packaged data and internet s

  • I wonder if these manufacturers arent competing with each other rather than sitting down with consumers and asking, "What would you like to see in your next cell phone?" This creeping featuritis just makes stuff more complex.

    My answer would be: Exclellent reception in as many areas as possible. Put some money into this. Make the antenna better. Make it absurdly easy to use, like an old Key 1A system. Let me store my numbers easily. Make the battery life as long as possible. Make it pass the drop test.

    Do I w

  • More proof that checking the block feature sets are an outdated business model. I bought a phone to talk to friends and family, not to take horrible quality pictures.
  • There's no lack of variety in the cell phones on offer. But in my experience, the user interface is far clunkier than it needs to be, even for a modest feature set. I find myself counting the number of key presses required to do frequent or repetitive tasks. These operations could be twice as fast or more with a little more effort on UI design.

    And where is the feature set documented? I haven't seen a cell phone in the last five years whose manual actually describes all the features. Since TFA talks

  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Wednesday September 24, 2008 @10:42PM (#25146555)
    Sometimes it's the goddamn cellular provider. Take Sprint, for example. At one point I had a Sanyo Katana on a Sprint account. Using the camera in the thing is painless: getting the damned pictures off was more complicated since the bloodsucking cell provider wanted a $15-$30/month "data plan" so that I could email my own pictures to myself. Fortunately I discovered MobileAction.com and bought myself a USB cable, and was able to grab images from the phone into my PC. Of course, Sprint has the firmware crippled so you can't download anything into the thing (other than phone book entries and I think schedules) unless you use their paid service. Want to dump a ringtone into your phone? Maybe use the phone for data storage? Copy some pictures into the phone so you can display them later? Forget it ... Sprint wants more money. Not worth it.

    If the phone providers actually let their customers use all cool features of the phones they sell, maybe this wouldn't be such an issue. I think a lot of people would use more of their phone's capabilities, they just don't want to pay their provider any more juice money.

    It gets back to the three most basic human emotions: greed, fear ... and greed.
  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @12:05AM (#25147107) Homepage

    I have a Sprint PCS phone, made by Samsung, with a camera, GPS, voice dialing, and web browser. All those features suck.

    The camera has a max resolution of 640x480, which is tolerable, but that's not the default resolution. The default is 120x80, and the phone resets to the default when powered off, and sometimes when connected to a charger. So taking a picture isn't a casual affair; I have to plow through menus to reset the resolution, or risk getting a dinky picture.

    The GPS isn't enabled, because Sprint requires I buy a package with tons of stuff I don't want to enable it.

    Voice dialing has very slow response. My previous Motorola phone was much faster, and that was five years ago.

    The web browser blows up on many sites, and connecting to Sprint's network interface usually takes at least 30 seconds of "connecting".

    So I just use it for voice calls, and take an occasional picture.

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft ... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor. -- Wernher von Braun

Working...