15 gadgets the smartphone killed

6th Jul 2010 | 09:57

15 gadgets the smartphone killed

Just when you thought your Flip HD could stand the test of time

Victims of the smartphone

The smartphone is the Jeffrey Dahmer of the tech world. New models like the HTC EVO 4G, Apple iPhone 3G, Motorola Backflip, and the upcoming Nokia N8 have had a field day destroying other product categories.

When will the killing end? Only when they can project an HD movie it seems. Here are the products that have fallen (or will fall) at the hands of the smartphone.

1. Portable cameras

The upcoming Nokia N8 has a 12-megapizel camera with a fast photo sensor and plenty of options for setting white balance and even image exposure. More importantly, most smartphones are with you all day and negate any sane reason to carry along an extra digital camera, especially when the results are roughly the same. New phones even have scene selections and can record HD video.

2. Mi-Fi Routers

A Mi-Fi device is great if you only have one cellular data plan and a group of people with laptops. You can even use them in the car on battery power. But, they are superfluous if you use a Palm Pre Plus or the HTC EVO 4G, which also work as mobile hotspots so you can share your 3G connection over Wi-Fi. Android 2.2 will also make sharing your phone's bandwidth a reality.


3. Portable video cameras

Some scoff at the idea of using a smartphone to record video. The quality is terrible, your can't hold the device still! Yet, if you use a Joby Gorillapod, you can rest your iPhone 3G on a tripod to make sure the video recording is smooth. And iPhone 4 adds 720p HD video to boot. And, in the same way they have killed the digital camera, smartphones let you stream a video recording to the Web using Qik and you always have one with you.

iPhone 4 hd video

4. Portable projectors

A portable projector like the HP Notebook Projector connects to your laptop or smartphone so you can project the image on a wall. That's helpful for business meetings or movie night. Yet, new models such as the HTC EVO 4G and Nokia N8 provide an HDMI cable you can use to connect the phone to any projector or HDTV set, and the cable is certainly much lighter and more portable than another gadget. Then there's new innovations, such as the Samsung Beam.

Samsung beam

5. Digital media adapters

Devices like the Apple TV and the Roku are great – they're set-top boxes that connect to your Wi-Fi network and allow you to stream music, movies, and photos from your home computer. The problem is: your smartphones is a better conduit for entertainment, especially if you have enough storage available. The Nokia N8 connects to your HD and even uses Dobly Digital Plus surround sound.

6. Netbooks

By all appearances, the netbook was a short-lived fad. A cramped keyboard, slow processing speeds, lack of 3D gaming support, and a crippled operating system like Windows 7 Starter made this product category ripe for the pillage. Smartphones are actually much more useful for any task you can perform on an under-powered netbook, save for typing up long documents – but we use laptops for that.

7. MP3 Players

Remember these? Sony still insists on making them, even though your phone is actually a much better music listening device – songs are just a finger-press away, there's ample storage (that's expandable) and you can browse the Web or watch a slideshow while you listen to the latest London psych-rock band.

Portable video players, sat nav and more

8. Portable video players

Another ancient relic of a bygone era (shh, don't mention that to Archos!), a portable video player is a single-use device with limited storage. A smartphone lets you buy Hollywood movies on the go and you can record your own material at will.

TV catchup

9. Digital picture frames

The Motorola Backflip has a hinge that lets you set the device horizontally and use it as a picture frame. The upcoming Nokia N8 has a kickstand for the very same purpose. Slideshows can run directly from the Web, and screen resolution is actually quite sufficient for those family beach shots. Besides, you can use the device to take the photos or video and then use it as a picture frame.

10. PDAs

Surprisingly, there was once a product category for the PDA, or personal digital assistant. Palm introduced one in about 1812. There's no longer a need for a dedicated organizer, since your smartphone has cal, contacts, and task lists.

11. Handheld game machines

Nintendo is developing a portable game system that displays in 3D, and we'll admit it sounds compelling. But why bother? The reason: platforms such as Google Android and iPhone OS have become amazingly viable, the games are actually as good or better (have you tried Alive-4ever yet?) and you can add them easily. Also, a five-minute game with okay graphics that costs $2 is better than a $20 game that makes you squint at the screen because it's trying to be a PS3 game.

iPhone real racing

12. Mobile Internet device

Just when the average consumer figured out what MID even stands for, the product category started to falter. Yes, the idea of a real computer that fits in your hand sounds appealing, especially if it runs Win 7 or Linux. But a smartphone running at 1GHz, with a wide selection of apps and a good keyboard, is a smarter choice.

13. Internet watches

Remember the Microsoft Spot watch? The concept is relatively sound – show weather widgets and stock quotes on your watch. The problem is that, if you are under 30, you probably use your smartphone as a watch. Also, the devices were so bulky and forced you to charge yet another gadget they were easy to obfuscate.

14. Voice recorders

These quaint devices from Sony and others are still around, but we're not sure why. We suppose not every Apple iPhone user knows they have a more than adequate, built-in voice recorder app available with plenty of voice recording space.

15. Sat nav

Garmin and others already see the writing on the wall – which is why they are developing smartphones that work as dedicated GPS devices. But just about every smartphone now has GPS built-in, with a wealth of apps available, voice navigation, and the ability to updates maps over Wi-Fi. And, you can use a car mount for your smartphone as well – and then pop the phone out and go for a walk.

Google maps


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