My Personal Electronics Odyssey.


I got my first cell phone some 20 years ago, a Motorola “Startac” flip phone. Some years later, I picked up one of John Ringo’s books form the library and it came with one of the Baen CD’s.

Now, I had just had a string of several overseas business trips where I had experienced the frustration of running out of reading matter in a language I could read. I’d packed several books but it wasn’t enough. The Baen CD, with a bunch of books in various ebook formats, was a godsend. I looked around and got myself a Sony Clie (my then wife, being Japanese, had urged me to buy Sony) Palm OS device, the Mobipocket reader, and I was good to go, particularly once I followed up with the Baen Free Library.

Not long after, I upgraded the Clie to a later model which had sound via a headphone jack. I added music to it but ended up dissatisfied because when used as a music player the battery life was atrocious. This led to my getting a dedicated MP3 player.

So, not long after I got my first cell phone, I was regularly carrying three electronic devices with me: The phone, the Palm device, and the MP3 player.

Time passed and I went through several of each of the items. Sony stopped selling the Clie for the international market so I went to the Palm Tungsten series. My various flip phones got smaller, more reliable, and less affected by “roaming” charges and less limited in minutes (remember “night and weekend minutes”?) as plans changed. I changed reader programs from the Mobipocket system to one called Stanza. Otherwise things remained much the same for several years.

Eventually the Palm series dead ended and I had to look for a replacement. I ended up with an iPod Touch. Battery life was good enough that I combined the MP3 player and ereader into one device. I started to appreciate browser and email features at places where I had wifi access. Still, I remained resistant to going “smart phone” because data plans were too expensive for my taste.

Eventually, the iPod started to die. It would lock up solid and I’d have to hard restart it, often several times, before I could get it back. At that time the price of data plans had come down and so when I was next ready for a phone upgrade by my provider I went with a smartphone. After much consideration I chose Android.

Sometime back in the 80’s I think it was Samsung had run an add campaign with a Korean guy dressed up as “Uncle Same” with the white goatee and all in the pose of the classic posters with the caption “Uncle Samsung wants you.” I had found that so offensive that I swore off any Samsung products. However, when I was looking at smartphones there really wasn’t anything else that provided the same level of price and features. Eventually I sighed and decided it was time to let it go and got my first smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy S4. And now I had music, reading, and phone all in one device.

Since then, I’ve upgraded the phone a couple of times. I’ve gone from a 6GB/month data plan to 10GB (shared with my then wife and daughter on their phones) then to Unlimited (shared with my daughter).

All because I kept running out of reading matter while overseas.

One thought on “My Personal Electronics Odyssey.”

  1. Can’t remember what phones I had but the process was similar. Carrying a phone for calls, a Palm for business calendar, and an Ipod Classic for music. I still have the Ipod although it is mostly used for school now as my phone has 124GB memory card which will hold all of my extensive music collection while the 80GB Ipod has to be periodically refreshed with new music and flushed of old. In the ereader market I’ve had two Nooks including the one I sort of use now. I hate reading on a tablet because the screen is not optimized for reading but the Nook is getting problematic and there don’t seem to be decent replacement options as everyone switches to tablet. I’ve actually gone back to reading on paper more.


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