In the Pocket

I was cleaning out my closet the other day and came across one of my old friends from a decade ago, a Palm IIIx PDA. I popped in a fresh set of batteries, turned it on, and was pleasantly surprised to see it still worked perfectly. The IIIx was the cutting edge when I picked it up in 1999.

As a basis of comparison, I put it next to my iPhone 3gs which I purchased two years ago. That puts these two devices a decade apart:

So what has a decade bought us? And did Moore’s Law carry over to the pocket space? In ten years, that would imply a 32x improvement.

Feature Palm IIIx iPhone 3gs
CPU 16mhz 600mhz
Memory 4mb 256mb
Storage Memory 32gb
Screen 160×160 Grayscale 320×480 16M color

From both the CPU and memory standpoints, the iPhone surpassed Moore’s Law. Screen pixel density doesn’t come close to a 32x improvement, but a iPhone 4 with a Retina Display would be hit 16x, so not too shabby.

The only area that hasn’t kept up is the one I’m sure most smartphone users are painfully aware of: battery life. The Palm IIIx could go for weeks with a pair of AAA batteries. My iPhone needs charger love every other day. This is going to become an even bigger problem as devices get even more powerful. The typical smartphone is mostly battery already.

It’s pretty exciting to think where we’ll be in another 10 years. The PDA/Smartphone is really going to evolve into a “personal” computer. I bet we’ll see:

  • 8 Core, 2ghz CPUs
  • 32GB of RAM
  • 1TB of Storage
  • Built-in projectors that can display HD+ video in excellent quality over 1M
  • Virtual keyboards projected by the device via laser onto the desk for typing
  • Integration with an embedded sensor in the user for health monitoring
  • Earphone patches you stick to the inside of the earlobe for audio
  • Screen navigation through eye movement detection

Of course, the battery is only going to last 30 minutes, and your head will explode from the RF energy if you get it too close, but it will definitely be a sight to behold.

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