Thursday, November 06, 2008

Checking out tech gadgets in Singpore

I have not been to Singapore for almost four years, so took an afternoon to check out the shopping centres which specialise in IT & mobile tech gear. Here are some observations on changes I saw in the tech gadget shopping centres in Singapore ie Funan IT & Sim Lim Towers & Sim Lim Centre.

Mobile has grown. In the three places I visited & other city & suburban shopping malls, shops that stock mobile phones outnumbered generic electronic goods stores which stock consumer products & computer gear. The range of brands (there are many Chinese & Japanese branded phones I have never come across) & models is mind boggling.

Trends for higher end phones seem to be larger screens, at least 3” across for a better web surfing experience. Phones that can take photos up to 8 megapixels & touch phones were the latest trend. Wifi capability on phones has to be a given. Singapore has many readily accessible Wifi hotspots – wireless@SG hotspots. The international airport terminals offer free internet & free WIFI! Inspired & perhaps indoctrinated by the seductive TV ads of the iPhone, touch screens are seen to be a standard requirement. Slide out keyboards are not cool as it leads to having to carry a ‘brick’ around. The preferred look was for thin, sleek phones that allowed you to clip-on your choice of faceplate. Clamshells were being superseded by touch phones.

Net books abound. I managed to test drive the MSI Wind U100 with a 10” screen along with netbooks from Toshiba & Dell. The asus eee 7” was often sold (or offered for very low prices) with mobile broadband / mobile cards for ease of use. I was not able to find a Kohjinsha UMPC which has a touch tablet but will make a more concerted effort to trace one back in NZ. In Singapore, netbooks are seen to be alternatives to the poorer connectivity speeds & expense of using a mobile phone to surf the web by mobile white collar professionals who tend to carry a mobile phone & a laptop as a norm. The netbook replaced the laptop but they would still carry a small ‘hand phone’ for phone calls & texting.

The trend is therefore for greater mobility, smaller sized hardware to access the web by free WIFI & increased capability, speed, memory capacity etc. at cheaper prices. Looks also count. Smart phones that look like the iPhone are preferred to those that look like a Nokia N96.

The other item I picked up on was the ability to link your iPod to your car stereo system, something my son had rigged up in my car as well. I also came across an auto audio firm that would link your ipod to the in-car DVD to allow you to play downloaded videos.

Many mlearning projects target their content development on students who are commuters. In NZ, many of our students do not use public transport instead they travel around in their own cars. Therefore, our focus, when creating content for our students, is to ensure that the content is accessible via formats that do that require regular input from the student as they might be listening to the content while they are driving. Also the time our students (within Chch) spend driving to work etc. is relatively short compared to the hours of commuting that people in Europe & Asia complete. Construction of revision content etc. suitable to playback on an mp3 player should therefore be shorter snippets & perhaps more repetitious as our students are not just passive commuters and have to concentrate on driving as well as revision.

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