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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Portable Devices for Home or Going Out?

I own several portable devices, and they've got me thinking about what makes them good as a portable device. What makes them better than others, and how are they better? Ease of portability, convenience, or even the available software for each device are viable reasons for which device is better, but I noticed something with my smartphone and Nintendo 3DS. It's the additional features based around going out that gives it its edge over other portable devices that gets me to take them over the other devices I own.

My smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, has the obvious features of a cell phone; making calls, texting, and other basic features that normal cell phones do. However, I find myself using the phone's GPS features for a lot more things that I expected, especially when combined with the use of 4G and Google. It's nice that Google Maps can instantly find my location (provided you have good enough signal; found that out during my train trip to NJ, where the train tracks outside of cities don't seem to get much phone signals.), but it has more features that makes use of that information. Such as, nearby stores and events provided by Google or FourSquare. GPS Navigation to any location you search for on Google which is nice; my phone even recognizes addresses sent to me through text messages and turns them into a link that I can click to open up Google Maps to show me where it is. This certainly shouts out "convenience" as far as phone signals can reach.

But more importantly, communication with people while you're out is something that are unique to cell phones, for the most part. With Wi-Fi not being everywhere quite yet, and even if it is, not publicly open for anyone to use all the time, cell phones will continue to be a necessity for the purpose of communication. That automatically gives cell phones an edge over other portable devices. So how does the 3DS compare to the smartphone?

The 3DS has quite a few interesting features, with its biggest selling point is how you can experience 3D imagery without the need of 3D glasses, which is definitely neat. However, as a portable device, the 3D feature is irrelevant in terms of giving it the edge over other devices for features based around going outside. Instead, I found two particular features that beckons me to take my 3DS with me - StreetPass and Play Coins.

There are quite a few games that I am interested in that makes use of Play Coins, which are gained by walking with the 3DS on me. The built-in motion sensor in the 3DS acts as a pedometer, and for every 100 steps you take, you gain 1 Play Coin, with a limit of 10 per day. This feature means you have to take it with you somewhere to get Play Coins. If you care to collect them, then you'll be taking it with you whenever you go out.

As for StreetPass, it further compliments the 3DS as a portable device by having additional incentive to take it with you when you go out. When you come across another 3DS user with the StreetPass feature enabled, the two devices will communicate with each other and transfer data to each other. Doing so adds more activities or content to your game; sometimes being necessary for some games like StreetPass Mii Plaza.

These two features are what I seem to be taking my 3DS with me for the most part. I don't even play the 3DS very much when I go out to places with it, but I feel compelled to bring it with me where ever I go. Of course, the reason why I bought it is for the softwares that are available, but in terms of what makes them more likely to be taken along for the trip, these two devices seem to have something going for them.

Now, the 3DS XL on the other hand, I find questionable. Same features are available on the XL as the 3DS, but with how big it is, it will not fit comfortably inside your pants pocket, if at all. And as a guy, it's not like you'll be carrying a purse to put the 3DS XL in either. My little brother has a 3DS XL, but doesn't take it with him anywhere for the most part, despite how often he plays it at home. Should it still be a portable device at this point? I suppose I could ask the exact same thing for tablets as well. I chose the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and the 3DS for how the size seems right. In fact, when placing the Galaxy Nexus on top of the 3DS, the length and width are nearly identical aside from the rounded corners, which is neat. I don't see the appeal in devices that gets as big as the 3DS XL or tablets however due to its weak portability at that point. If I wanted something even bigger than something that fits in my pocket, I might as well take my laptop. It has a nice and big screen for watching videos on, has a full keyboard for gaming with possibly a mouse provided a flat surface, or even plugging in my USB gamepad, and I can also work more efficiently on my blog or otherwise. The only reason why I would want a tablet is for the purpose of drawing on it. With a big enough screen, using your fingers to draw on a touch screen provides better accuracy than it does on a smaller screen like a smartphone.

With that said, perhaps it's a good time to start a new poll regarding what devices you take with you on the blog. Feel free to leave a comment for why you take your devices or leave some too.

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