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Obsolescence and that magic touch

I'm kind of halfway shopping for a phone. That's turning into a pretty standard biannual event, as is the precise clockwork of planned obsolescence. Every time I get a phone, I think it's finally going to be the one I'll hang onto for years — and every time, it turns out to be pretty outdated right on schedule and in perfect time with my two-year contract. It's almost like the industry planned it that way. Hmm....

It makes this obsession with "finding the perfect phone" seem a little silly, because when 2013 rolls around, anything I pick will most likely be hopelessly out of date. It's amazing how far phones have come in just the last six years. I don't think it's fair to even call them "phones" anymore — they're much more in the realm of computers than they are traditional phones. The fictional world of Star Trek is upon us and we all have interconnected computers and communication devices in our pockets.

Anyway. I currently have my eye on the HTC Inspire. It's an Android device, which is Linux-based and therefore awesome by default. I'll give Apple credit for turning the cell phone world on its ear, not to mention creating a whole new market with the iPad, but I just can't bring myself to carry an iPhone despite all its nifty qualities.

The Inspire isn't quite the perfect device either, but it's pretty close. It's got tons of memory, a fast processor, a great camera (so maybe I can start taking some better pictures), and a beautiful display. I can see it replacing my mp3 player if I can shove enough memory into it, which would get me pretty close to having the mythical "do it all" device I've been looking for. It might even be something I can carry around beyond the normal two-year obsolescence period.

Really, the only thing it's missing is a physical keyboard. And that actually might be what I don't like about the iPhone. I don't get along with touchscreen keyboards, and in fact, I'm a bit picky about keyboards in general. That tactile feedback is important to me and it always has been. My favorite computer keyboard of all time is the IBM Model M — a dinosaur by most standards, since it first came out in 1984, but hardly obsolete. You push a key and it gives a nice crisp click sound, and at the same time you can feel it in your fingertip. Upon release, another slightly less crisp click and another twitch on your fingertip to let you know the key has, in fact, been released. That's pure perfection. You can actually still buy these at ClickyKeyboards. I doubt I'll ever need to myself, because these things seemingly do last forever. I've used the same one for nearly a decade now and I have two spares just in case.

My current phone has a real physical keyboard on it, and it's something I can actually use and work with. I played with an Inspire today and was impressed with the performance... but I'll have to stretch a bit to get used to that touchscreen keyboard. Maybe somebody makes a Bluetooth keyboard for this thing... and with any luck, it will have a nice clicky sound and feel.

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