By SteveJack

While the Handspring Treo’s top model offers a color screen, cell phone, Palm OS PDA and more, it also lacks the ability to upgrade the OS, an expansion slot, and most noticeably, Bluetooth. As I look at my current phone and my current Palm PDA, I realize I am in serious need of what I call, “The Device.” I really thought I wanted a Treo with Bluetooth, OS upgradeability, and an expansion slot, but since this didn’t exist, I was left dreaming of the Sony Ericsson P800 or even the Palm Tungsten W, if they ever become available.

But, then I got to thinking about the recent iChat rumors. iChat is rumored to be getting audio and video capabilities in addition to its current text messaging. Basically, you’d be able to chat with sound and pictures; iChat would become, quite simply, a videophone. It is not much of a technological leap to imagine a device running this new iChat, that contains at least a 20GB hard drive, a color screen and uses both and a thumb-keyboard. This device, from Apple, capable of utilizing wireless GSM/GPRS networks, with SMS ability, could also run iCal, Address Book, iSync, and incorporate Rendezvous technology. I mean, Apple is obviously laying the foundation for something special with iSync and Rendezvous, and I don’t think it is just for the standard-issue “Digital Hub” Macintosh desktops and portables.

This device, able to be made today with current technology, would easily be “The Device.” Running Mac OS X or a mobile variant, it would allow the user to communicate via text, audio, and video. It would snap digital photos and organize them, do email, and browse the web. It would sync automatically with your desktop or portable Mac. It would run Sherlock for web services. With its large hard drive inside, and its included FireWire port, it would absorb the iPod by playing AAC / MP3 audio and interface with iTunes, but it would also play feature-length MPEG-4 movies, too, in full color. It would have the AM/FM tuner that iPod lacks, too. It would incorporate Inkwell for jotting down notes, interfacing with the device or sketching ideas. It would have built-in Bluetooth, which would allow for, among other things, short-range personal broadcasts; your own radio/TV station and any number of websites in your pocket. McDonald’s Drive Thru’s would accept payments via Bluetooth from “The Device.” And, of course, it would have the basics like any PDA; your date book, to do list, calculator, etc. I figure a form factor about the size or a Newton or a bit smaller would do the trick.

This would be “The Device.” iDevice?? And only Apple, in concert with a partner like Verizon, Cingular, or Sprint, has everything in place to make “The Device” a reality today. I wonder if they are close, yet, or still far away from fruition? I really hope they are building it. Everything seems to point to it or am I just wishing too hard? I’ll tell you one thing, if Apple can produce it, they’ll really change everything this time, and they’ll never be able to make enough. Nearly everyone would have an Apple device in their pocket that worked best (or only) with a Macintosh computer. Would you buy one for, say, $799? I would.

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.