In recent years, the consumer electronics industry has seen a steady trend toward convergence. In the past, users carried several separate devices--from cell phones to portable music players, PDAs, video players and cameras--in order to meet all their communications and media needs. Today, a single product can perform all these functions, reducing the amount of money spent by consumers and the amount of space taken up by the products needed to perform the tasks.
Advances in technology have made this possible. Media storage hardware has increased in capacity but not in size, enabling more content to be saved in the same amount of space. Power management solutions have extended battery life. Connectivity methods are robust and reliable. User interfaces are now so intuitive that anyone can operate any device.
There are, of course, some drawbacks associated with a single communications and media solution, the most prevalent of which is amply expressed by asking, "What do I do if something happens to my phone?" Not only is the ability to receive calls lost, but all contacts and calendars, e-mails, music,and videos are no longer at your fingertips.
Fortunately, because all information stored on a device like this can be backed up on a computer, it is a simple matter of getting a replacement device and syncing with it.
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So, what happens if you get a new phone (either because the last one is no longer usable or because it was simply time to get a new one)? I wanted to test how long it would take to transfer simple, common media examples to various popular multimedia phones. The use case included one CD's worth of music, an episode of a television show, and a feature-length movie. Because I started this testing around Halloween, I went with a theme:
CD: "Once More With Feeling" by the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (49.7 Mbytes, composed of 22 songs ranging in length from 00:00:20 to 00:06:56)
TV show: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 3, Episode 1" (275.9 Mbytes, with a duration of 00:44:52)
Movie: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (552.5 Mbytes, with a duration of 01:25:24)
This sample seemed to represent my media habits. While waiting for the bus, I'd listen to a few songs. Once on the bus, I'd watch a TV episode. When flying, I'd watch a movie. The media I selected also represent the various sizes of content that users typically transfer.
The four phones tested were the Apple 4-Gbyte iPhone, the RIM BlackBerry 8120, the Sony Ericsson W910i Walkman, and the Motorola Razr V2 (I also wanted to duplicate the experience of most consumers). I used the provided sync software when able and tested direct file transfer as well. Each test was conducted at least twice. The computer used was a 2-GHz Intel Core 2 Sony Vaio laptop with 2 Gbytes of RAM and USB v2.0, operating Windows XP, Service Pack 2.
This test is not designed to take the phone features into account other than to mention some prominent and relevant ones. I intended to create a fairly academic report of file transfer times.
Here's a rundown of the phones' basic features and market positioning. The table at right shows my results.
Apple 4-Gbyte iPhone
The Apple iPhone (see: Inside the Apple iPhone) is a very popular phone right now. According to Apple, more than 1 million have already been shipped. Semiconductor Insights looked at the components that made up the iPhone when it was first released. The user interface, not the components, has been the driving force behind the success of the iPhone. The 3.5-inch widescreen display, access to iTunes, and Wi-Fi and Edge connectivity position the iPhone as a multimedia device. It operates on the GSM network and offers Bluetooth.
The iPhone I used was updated to v1.02, and I used iTunes v220.127.116.11 for the transfer. Because the iPhone did not appear as a drive on my computer, I was not able to test direct file transfer.
The BlackBerry products have long been favorites of business-oriented consumers. The ability to check and send e-mail anywhere anytime--which can prove addictive--has earned these phones the moniker "CrackBerry." The 8120 was released in Europe, operating on the GSM network. It also has connectivity through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The BlackBerry 8120 is available in Europe but is not yet available in North America, although the planned North American release of the BlackBerry 8130 is imminent. When transferring to the BlackBerry 8120, I used both the provided media manager software and direct file transfer.
Sony Ericsson W910i Walkman
According to Sony, the Walkman player turns phones into powerful portable music devices. The phone only comes with 35 Mbytes of memory, which is also used for the phone's software, and supports a 4-Gbyte Sony Memory Stick Micro (M2).
I had some difficulty transferring the files to the Sony Ericsson W910i. The provided software didn't seem to make matters easier, so for my first test I used direct file transfer. In the charts depicting the test results, this method is not represented, in order to keep some sort of relative scale of test results. The phone came with a memory card reader, so the second test was performed by transferring content through that external source. Fortunately, this second method of downloading content was much faster, although it requires users to have a card reader on hand.