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03/07/12
I Gave My Smartphone a Stress Test
Filed under: General, Mobile Solutions & Smartphones
Posted by: Tom @ 10:29 am

For awhile, I have read that smartphones will replace laptops. This might work for many users, but I doubt that it would be adequate for me.  I have found that smartphones may do a lot of things, but they have trouble keeping up with high powered machines and special purpose devices, especially with current displays, batteries and input/output capabilities.

My latest laptop has the same capabilities that I enjoy in my office except I miss being able to multitask using two desktop machines.  Although I miss the two displays, I have gotten much more functional than when I traveled with my first 20-pound laptop and its heavy bag of accessories.  Today’s four-pound laptop does much more, but is still heavier than I would prefer especially when I bring along a Bluetooth keyboard, wireless mouse, 4-port USB hub, cooling pad, datacard, external hard drive, card reader and assorted cords and cables.  Everything does fit in a small carryon bag, and I no longer need multiple bags and a foldup handtruck.  However, I am always afraid that something will get lost especially when I take the laptop out of my carryon bag for airport security.  On my most recent trip, I saw someone almost lose their laptop itself.  Without a laptop, everything could stay enclosed in the carryon bag and cut the risk of loss.

I look at smartphones the same way that I look at Swiss Army Knives with one key exception. They’r both pretty good when they are only expected to do one thing at a time.  The Swiss Army Knife forces the user to stay in control and accomplishes this.  Contrast this with the smartphone as it bombards users with calls, text messages and email while they are trying to check GPS, watch movies, order something online, check bank balances, and a host of other things.  My life is stressful enough without all that going on.  Smartphones need smart attendants to manage the traffic!

I thought that maybe using a smartphone for messaging and a laptop for other things would work just like my two office computers. I decided to find out.  Before setting off on a recent trip, I set up my smartphone to collect email from my four most important email accounts.  I thought that as long as Microsoft Outlook did not download messages in my office, incoming messages would stay on servers and could be viewed on the smartphone and could be deleted manually if I chose to do so. 

The first few days, everything worked fine.  I must admit, I was a little sorry that I hadn’t done this sooner.  It saved me the trouble of going to the computer to check for email.  The only problem was I needed to recharge the phone more often.  Unfortunately, this situation got worse and worse.  After two weeks, it was necessary to recharge the phone every couple of hours.  Occasionally, especially during the night, the battery ran down completely and the phone shut off.  The battery nemesis had hit me with full force.

What surprised me was that I seemed to be getting all my emails, and the number on the phone did not seem excessive.  I deleted messages on the phone and the number of new ones was fairly constant.  The load did not seem to account for the problem, but I could not find and other reason.  However, unbeknownst to me, almost 2,500 emails had been building up on the servers for Outlook to ultimately download when I got back to my office.  After doing so, the excessive battery drain returned to normal.  Even though I deleted messages on the phone, the phone apparently continued to look at all the files on the servers before deciding which ones it needed to download.  This became an intense task requiring lots of battery power.

Although I read regularly about battery issues with smartphones and how battery technology continues to lag user needs, I had never seen a discussion about what I had experienced.  However, after using email for over 30 yers, I get a lot more of it than anyone else that I know.  I must have given my smartphone a real stress test!!

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