What can’t your personal companion do—for you? It depends on your age and budget

Posted: 09.24.12

When your personal companion has almost every sensor imaginable and always-connected capability, what it can do is only limited by your imagination and the imaginations of the applications developers.

A scenario recently suggested by ARM is one where you are driving and don’t have a Bluetooth connection to your car radio or an earphone stuck in your ear mic/earplug, and the phone rings. The phone, your personal companion, will sense there is no Bluetooth peripheral and answer the phone for you with a message, “Mr. Zagot can’t come to the phone now; he is driving and will call you back as soon as possible.”


I take my Nexus7 with me almost every­where, including to bed at night, because it’s now my (surviving—I haven’t lost it yet) ebook.

What can’t your personal companion do for you? Well, I might be able to do what I am doing now—writing. I could be dictating this. I can do that on my PC, and although my personal companion can’t do it quite as effectively today as my PC can, it will be able to within a year or so.

Dictation, using amazingly accurate speech-recognition programs like ­Dragon NaturallySpeaking, can enable effective productivity. However, to use speech-recognition effectively, the user has to develop some new skills. But, for anyone who can adopt to Android after a decade of being trained on how to use Windows, that shouldn’t be a problem.

The other thing I do is spend a lot of time working on a spreadsheet, a really big spreadsheet—one that requires all of a 30-inch monitor and sometimes more.

Obviously, I’m not going to do that kind of work on a personal companion, or even a retina-based iPad. It’s conceivable I could hook up my phone or tablet to an HD screen; however, that would still be a sacrifice—my 30-inch Dell monitor has 51% more resolution than any HD screen. Then there’s the issue of how do I move around in the spreadsheet and enter data?

When I’m not in spreadsheets or word processors, I’m making or presenting slides, and other times I’m editing photos or playing intense first-person shooter games in stereo-3D. Can’t do that on my personal companion or a tablet, and cute as it is, Angry Birds doesn’t hold my attention very long.

Smartphones and tablets are not replacements for PCs in all cases, but that might change with time, and re-learning. Tablets have already replaced PCs for some applications, and they’ll gradually take on more and more. In some cases, we have to change the way we work, and it may be a better, possibly even easier way to work. Maybe.

Its possible Windows 8 will usher in a real paradigm shift for tablets.

But you might be on the other side of the fence. You might be the kind of person who swears a vacuum tube amplifier has a warmer color/sound than a silicon amplifier; then you might have trouble accepting this new paradigm—you’re an old fogey, not in tune with the happenings. You’re driftwood, done, dried up, finished, only good for the fireplace or creepy artwork.