Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Apple Newton beats up on Samsung Q1

I love technology and I love gadgets. My accountant probably shakes his head whenever he goes through my expenses. But I have also been sorely disappointed that with all our progress in what our hardware can achieve today we have woefully neglected the key piece of the puzzle - the usability of these devices. The gadget landscape is littered with examples, from my HP hw6515 handheld that excels at collecting dust in my office, to my Motorola DCT6412 PVR, the most crashtastic piece of hardware I've ever owned.

CNET UK made a great point few days ago by pitting Apple Newton (circa 1995) against Samsung Q1, the latest object of techno-lust. I remember Newton fondly, it was a quiet and elegant device that was a joy to work with. Samsung Q1 is the opposite, it's garish to the max. You've got the video, the audio, full Windows XP, colour screen, etc. But the question becomes which is the better device for the end-user, the user that needs it to be a) portable, b) run a long time on batteries and c) be stable. Watching videos is great but you won't be doing that if the battery life lasts only 2.5 hours and you also need to get some work done during the day!

CNET gave Apple Newton the nod in the face off, and although this was a tongue-in-cheek comparison the point they were trying to make is crystal clear!