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Tech Talk: New crossover phones offer more choices

POSTED: January 10, 2014 6:41 p.m.

What do you get when you cross a mobile phone with a tablet? A phablet; really, that’s what the new hybrids are called, and you’ll be seeing them on store shelves soon in 2014, if you haven’t seen them already on YouTube.

Just as we grew accustomed to cellphones after pagers and tablets after laptops, so too will we soon accept this new cross-breed technological device that will enhance how we communicate with one another.

I can’t get used to people holding up their tablets to takes pictures, so putting a 6-inch gadget to my ear might require a period of adjustment, although I suppose Bluetooth headsets will work with these new devices as well.

I see very few women using Bluetooth earbuds, but maybe this will sway them over to the dark side of communicating.

We will adjust. Remember when people’s belts buzzed from pagers or how self-conscious we were with our first cellphones? Mine was a bag phone. Everybody shouted using them (some still do). But we were like Kirk calling Spock. It was cool.

According to the tech community, phablets will outsell small tablets in 2014 and will represent one quarter of all smartphone sales. Everybody likes new technology.

Small tablets are considered to have screens smaller than 8 inches, and phablets will have displays at an average of 5 inches.

I have large fingers, so I like a bigger cellphone. But a large tablet is too big for a guy to carry. I don’t have a man-purse, so it either clips to a holster on my belt or fits in a pocket somewhere. Perhaps this new hybrid is just my style.

I have a small Samsung Galaxy tablet and often thought if it could only make calls too, it would be the perfect device. So now I guess my next tech toy will probably be a phablet.

There are advantages of phablets over smartphones. Instead of having seven tiny home pages like I have on my Android phone, which is crowded with apps, a larger phablet may have fewer home pages, but with plenty of room on each page for your icons.

With a larger screen, emailing, texting, navigation of the Internet, Google Maps or even just your apps will be done much more easily than with a cellphone. The ability to truly multitask, as with your home computer will be apparent with these larger phablets.

These larger devices should appeal to senior citizens, who should find them easier to use than the diminutive phones they use now. Plus, fat-fingered men like me will find it much easier to navigate.

In contrast, sales of the new smartwatches that launched last year are not predicted to take off. Although they are a neat little gadget, for what do, they are just too small. They can however at least notify you of an incoming email or text on the phone in your pocket. The jury is still out on them.

Sales of tablet/laptop hybrids though, are expected to soar in the coming year. You get the best of both worlds with this type of device. You want a virtual keyboard or a real one; you’ve got both. You can make it mobile or truly portable, whatever you need.

The next really big thing I believe to go mainstream is going to be Google Glasses, perhaps not this year but soon. If you haven’t already read about them or seen videos on how they work, you will be amazed. I think once the price is made more reasonable, we will see more people, not just geeks using these high tech glasses.

This new device lets you go about your business while browsing the Web, check for texts or email, all without skipping a beat. My bifocals took some getting used to; I can’t imagine the adjustment curve on these high-tech glasses.

These wearable computers have the ability to connect to an open Wi-Fi network while you’re out and about, without asking your permission. They sync with your Google account so they know all they need to know about you, like travel plans calendar events, etc.

Without you even telling it your flight number, it can extract it from an email you got. You navigate via control buttons and speak to its omnipresent personal assistant.

“Hey Siri. Did you see that?”

But no matter how cool Google Glasses and phablets are, they are geeky and will make even the most hardened techie self-conscious, at least for a while anyway.

Until I can comfortably wear a computer on my bifocals and make a call simply by looking at an icon, I guess a phablet will suffice.

A phablet will allow you to consolidate your electronic devices. You’ll be able to visit websites away from home, watch videos and video conference with your boss or spouse.

If you’d like a tablet that’s also a phone, consider a phablet as your next communication device. Just use your Bluetooth.

Arthur Glazer is a freelance writer and computer technician in Gainesville. His column appears biweekly on the Business page and on gainesvilletimes.com.


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