So I’ve been thinking about this off and on for awhile.  Ever since I got my Treo a couple years ago, and started thinking of things that would make it better, like converging it with my PSP… I mean really, if Sony had any smarts, they would’ve had an iPhone two years before Apple – doh!  Anyways, a CES article over at CNN got me thinking about it again today, and here’s what I’d like to see. Basically a hand-held PC that has all of this functionality:

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 It would look like a console game controller with a tilt-screen mounted upper center, at least the size of the PSP’s, slightly larger if possible.  The screen would have a protective cover that would open to provide shade if needed, and would close to protect the screen surface. Underneath the screen assembly and between the hand-holds, facing away from the user would be a high-def video camera(like what’s currently used on Digital Handi-Cams).  The whole thing would weigh in around what a current HandiCam weighs. You could record to the built in memory, memory cards, or USB device, network storage, whatever’s available.

It would be able to play PC games with a high quality video card and lots of memory (at least 4-gigs).  Storage (100G minimum) would be totally solid-state, no space-hogging, fragile, error-prone drives on this portable device.  It would have at least 4 USB connectors on it, and could draw power from a USB plug-in as well. It would also have an “all-in-one” memory card slot to accept the various memory cards that are out there.  Your Right thumb would rest near a mini-optical track ball for mousing around the screen, and two forward buttons under your index and middle finger would act as the right/left mouse buttons.  A mini-scroll wheel button would be located in-between those. The unit’s “brain power” would be something like a souped-up one of these or one one of those “Micro-VAIOs” (as pictured above), with a game controller form-factor.

Of course it would be Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled and have a built in cell-phone.  So you could surf the net or use the device as a cell phone with a blue-tooth enabled headset – you could use that same headset for Ventrillo or Teamspeak if you’re gaming at the time.  If a phone call comes in while the unit is in use as a PC, it would display “floating” transparent text overlaying whatever you’re viewing and would mute your game/movie/whatever if you decide to answer and the headset would auto-magically switch over to phone mode. Said headset would be “back-neck” style headphones with a lapel mic. Please let’s get rid of those obtrusive “boom mics” and move to the more stylishly invisible lapel mic, tyvm.

Texting would be done via a central “thumb-pad” within thumbs’ distance from the controller-style hand-holds (oh look! MS has done this already!)- again text messages would appear to “float” semi-transparently over whatever you’re viewing at the time.  As with the currently avail. MS removable keypad, the pad would be removable and would double as a cell phone. You would have the option to disable phone/IM interruptions until you’re done with whatever you’re viewing.  Besides the high-def/forward pointing video camera, there would also be a screen mounted “web-cam” for two-way video conferencing or what-have-you. 

Small stereo speakers would be embedded in the controller, as well as stereo mics if a headset isn’t used.  A GPS unit would be built into the chassis and navigation/mapping software would be part of the standard bundle. It should be user-expandable using standard ports & interfaces (like RAM Memory strips, video cards, mother-boards/processors, etc.) The idea here is to be as NON-proprietary and expandable as possible. The product would sell at an initial price point near $1000 with a bottoming out price around $600, and would include 3-6 mos. of “unlimited” data/voice cellular service, as well as 3-6 mos. subscription to something like “X-Box Live Gold” or  “Sony Station Access.” I’ll try to do a “Photoshop Phriday” style pic of what I think this device should look like. Anyways, I think it would be totally cool, and it’s totally do-able with today’s technology as well, so hop to it! SONY!? MS!?

This gadget gets the “so close, but so far away” award.  Sony really needs to pull their heads out and start designing in some ergonomics instead of these “bricks.” I mean really, just mount this unit in a game-controller form with a solid-state video camera, cellular, and GPS – replace any drive mechanisms with solid-state storage and call it done! Hello?!

Edit: I added some (bad) photoshopped images in my “I’m terrible at Photoshop” article. Just FYI.

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