Now Flash needs to hurry and join the party
This guest article was submitted by Chris King.
Looking at the graphic to the left and reading the title at the top, it would be easy to assume that this article is about a certain comic book character. But don't worry, it has to do with a different type of Flash, the kind that doesn't have a cool looking figurine toy to go along with it. Maybe in the near future, Adobe Flash can achieve performance that can be illustrated by a lightning bolt logo, but it's not there yet.
With the official announcement finally escaping from Nokia's tight grip yesterday, the N900 became an actual product, not just a mystery device depicted in spyshots. But the real mystery is if this will finally be the non-Intel MID that crashes the gates to the Adobe Flash castle. After many years of hope arriving with the promises of each new device, we are left wondering what the delay is, all the while enjoying the full spectrum of Flash goodies on our more powerful Windows-based computers.
After being disappointed too many times to remember, could Nokia actually be ready to break the cycle and deliver the perfect device?
For me, Flash is essential for the way I would like to use my small devices like the iPhone, Nokia N800, and the Fujitsu U820 in particular; I know I am not alone. The problem is that Flash is only available on two of the devices I just mentioned and really only truly usable on the Fujitsu. Unfortunately for the U820, users have to contend with the infamous GMA500 graphics chipset, which was supposed to be an upgrade over the older GMA950 architecture but that drags the whole Windows Vista experience down instead. In fairness to Intel, I think Microsoft did a good job of that one on its own (and it's all about to be remedied with Windows 7 in October, anyway).
The N800 has supposedly had Flash 9 support for a while, but you could have fooled me, especially when I try and watch a YouTube video at unacceptable frame rates. I don't even know what to say about the iPhone. Here we have the most popular phone out there for the last two years, which has more than enough horsepower to excel at everything it does, yet still lacks Flash support.
What it boils down to is that I don't need a full computer most of the time, but I am forced to keep them around because of the Flash shortcomings in many small MIDs and UMPCs.
Back on the subject of Flash, it really is hard to lay the blame on one party. Surely Adobe should take the brunt of the criticism because there is apparently an issue of getting better performance and utilization of native graphics chipset support. Maybe it is just the dependence of the various manufacturers to stick with the tried-and-true i386 and Windows architecture. We see that in devices like the UMID mbook M1, which is sized like the Sharp Zaurus devices of the past (and the present), but has to make certain hardware compromises to get everything to fit. All I know is that using Hulu or YouTube as a barometer to find out how a certain device can handle windowed and full-screen streaming is not the way it should be.
Here at Pocketables, we all deal with the future of computing, those tiny and pocketable computing devices we have been waiting for. They are here and they are becoming more and more powerful, but it is about time that someone comes out with a true Swiss Army knife for us hardcore MID and UMPC users. No tweezers, no scissors, no toothpick. Something that doesn't need Windows or Mac OS to be complete, something that can be used to access any website and its media-centric content without having to worry about performance or compatibility. From what I have read about the N900, we may finally have something that can step up to the plate and knock it out of the park, something that will finally be able to deliver on the true mobile promise.
I am really looking forward to the N900 and even though it looks like the carrier here in the US will be T-Mobile, I still plan on buying one as soon as possible, even though I won't have 3G support with AT&T. Hey, that's what my Sprint MiFi is for and hopefully the 3G broadband pipes will be able to deliver a full computer experience to me.
The other Nokia Internet Tabletss (770, N800, and N810) have all claimed me as an owner at one time or another, since their beginning. They were great devices, but the technology at the time suddenly became very dated when dealing with the wave of more complex websites. I am optimistic that the N900 will be able to handle this, especially with the Maemo community being given better hardware to develop their software.
As for Adobe, I remain cautiously optimistic, but it looks like the rest of 2009 should be very interesting for those of us wanting new pocketable devices that are getting closer to being able to do it all without worry.
Chris King (orbitalcomp) is a long-time handheld tech user, dating back to the original Newton MessagePad and then moving on to dozens of different devices over the years. Currently, he finds himself surrounded by a multitude of touchscreen devices, including a pair of Fujitsu U-series, a Nokia N800 (soon to be replaced by the N900), and an iPhone 3GS.