In 1999 I wrote a graduate thesis (NYU, ITP) on form defining function in mobile devices. My collaborator Kent Hollrah and I even went so far as to mock-up a prototype we called The Stack. It was made of multiple display panels that were hinged in a manner that allowed it to be folded into four different shapes; each used for a different purpose—phone, pda, map and media player. We loved our little concept and dreamed of the day that it could be real. That day isn't quite here yet, but it's getting a lot closer.
I had the chance this afternoon to play with the Nokia N92 which was just announced yesterday. The media-focused device has the same conceptual intent as The Stack did. Opened vertically it functions as a phone; twisted around it's a still and video camera; and opened horizontally it's a little TV. Yes, TV. With up to 50 channels the Nokia N92 is the first mobile device to use a new standard called DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcast on Handheld).
The pieces of the technology puzzle won't fit together for DVB-H to become a reality until the middle of next year in Europe (in the U.S. it will take twice as long at best), but today's demo was promising. The screen on the Nokia N92 is fantastic and the video quality was seamless. Another notable item is the dedicated Media button which goes to a menu just for the music, web, TV and photo/video content on the device. This is a new feature in the Nokia N92's software platform (Series 60 v3.0). I was hoping to preview the new Mini Map web browser but it wasn't yet implemented on the engineering sample I looked at.
For more information check out the press release.