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More P800 Thoughts

Just some more random ramblings about the new P800 “cell phone” (ha!) from Sony Ericsson. I’m authoring this “rant” straight from the phone, using Opera’s new portable browser, which is one of the slickest pieces of coding tech I’ve seen in a long time (you can download the Windows version of Opera at www.opera.com . Once installed and running, just hit shift-f11 to see how Opera’s “small screen rendering” technology works. Amazing).

About four or five years ago, I read one of Tom Clancy’s spin off series books, Net Force. The first book was set in the future – 2010 to be exact. People are pretty much the same, but Things like 1989 Mazda Miatas are now sought after restoration subjects for car buffs :). The book revolves around a US govt organization that deals with cybercrime on the Internet. It’s funny how we are already seeing this form in 2003 (and in the last year or two) – latest headlines show that the US govt has a force ready to go to commit cyberwar against Iraq.

In the book, there’s some futuregadgetitus going on – holographic environments that people cannot distinguish from reality, “brain” reading helmets for surfing the net, and other goodies.

Some items may have seemed “Way too futuristic” five or ten years ago, but today, in 2003….? One of the book’s items is the personal communicator, a Virtual Global Interface Link, or “Virgil” for short. The phone was the size of a pack of cigarettes but held a full computer, GPS system, television, camera, scanner, fax, music player, radio, internet browser, internet access, scheduler, video recorder, email and document access, and more.

I remember reading about this back in 1999 (yes, almost four years ago) thinking, that would be the most amazing thing to own. And scary too. I also had thoughts that it may be possible before 2010. I remember also at the time that ATT was running commercials that “predicted” the future… along the lines of “ever wish you could see your Mom’s smiling face as she chats with you…. while you’re on a beach 5,000 miles away? One day you will…” These were in the boom years of the Internet, before the big crash of 2000 and 2001, and everyone thought this technology would happen even before the new Millennium started. They were wrong. But not by much. And I’ve wanted this device since I first read about the Virgil in the first Net Force book.

Today, in 2003, The P800 is so close to the science fiction of the “Virgil”, it’s scary. It has Internet access, and fairly good speed as well. It has access to email. It gives you access to photos and video while on the go. This new browser from Opera gives it a serious punch, and truly does bring the big face of the Internet down to a 214 by 320 pixel screen.  You have music (mp3s), radio (eventually – it’s a software thing for streaming radio, and a hardware thing for an FM plug in). You have access to your contacts, schedule, and even your remote desktop computer if you want (software is already available to do this). You can buy from Amazon while on a highway going 70mph (as a passenger!), and you can read an eBook.

What you can’t do (yet) is stream video or have two way video conferencing; nor does it have GPS ability (global positioning satellite). But the former is possible and may come with software applications. The latter is also possible through a hardware addition like a GPS dongle (physical attachment to the phone) or via bluetooth wirelessly (keep the GPS hardware in your pocket).

Seven years early. Technology can be so cool sometimes. And what’s the best part about this “Virgil” clone? You can easily turn it off when you want to 🙂

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