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I've come to the conclusion that Japan is the place to live. Not that I really want to move to a country that by all reports is an extremely crowded and busy place, but the Japanese always seem to get the best gadgets. Zev Blut's article on iAppli development last month ("DoJa in NTT DoCoMo Phones," JDJ, Volume 6, issue 9) got me thinking, and I revisited a couple of Web sites that show the different mobile phones available there.

A good example is Mobile Media Japan where, if you take a look at the list of J-Sky phones (www.mobilemediajapan.com/hardware/jsky-handsets/), most have color screens and are exceptionally easy on the eyes (to use the vernacular). Style isn't limited to J-Sky phones; i-mode and EZweb also have some seriously worthy examples.

Western phones, by contrast, have predominantly gray-scale screens, and have been (until recently) generally clunky-looking when compared with their Asian cousins. Manufacturers in the West have a lot to learn from the Japanese - but then again, perhaps consumers in the West have a lot to learn as well.

Things are looking up, however: Nokia has released the 9210, a Java-enabled mobile phone/PDA, in Europe (with the 9290 scheduled for release in the U.S.). It may have a gray-scale screen on the outside, but it's full color within (you can find a review of the 9210 in this issue of JDJ). Still, it doesn't quite have the teenager-attracting good looks of some of those Japanese mobiles - but, of course, it isn't aimed at the same market.

In an attempt to help out mobile phone manufacturers in their goal to produce the "must have" mobile device du jour, let me present the specification for the phone I want in my pocket this Christmas.

This device will have the "chic factor" of one of those Matrix-style mobiles (Nokia's 7110 or Mitsubishi's J-D05 are examples of what I'm thinking of), a slot for an IBM 1GB Microdrive in the bottom, and a slot for one of those Sony memory sticks (shaped like a piece of chewing gum) in the top. In fact, why not throw another slot in the back and we'll put the operating system on a memory stick as well!

The screen should be a high-definition organic LED - and the CPU should be as fast as possible without reducing the operating time (personally, I'm hoping for a 1GHz processor that will run forever on a few milliwatts of power...but then again, I'm still waiting for those personal nuclear reactors that I saw in the movie Ghostbusters in the '80s to appear - so I don't hold out much hope for that).

It will, of course, be PersonalJava-enabled - or the Personal Profile, if Sun ever gets around to releasing it - with (Java) development access to 3D and MP3/audio libraries. We'll throw in various interfaces - like infrared and serial access - for good luck.

I want one. Now. Not in a couple of years' time. I've been infected by the bug of the Internet generation: I want immediate gratification. I have the attention span of a gnat and about as much patience as a turbocharged snail with nitroboosters and a penchant for drag racing.

Oh, and P.S., Mr. or Ms. Mobile Phone Manufacturer, I don't want to pay the Earth for my new toy.

Is that too much to ask for?

Probably...but I live in hope.

Anyway, wishful thinking aside, in this month's issue of JDJ - as well as the aforementioned Nokia review - you'll discover the wonders of robotic programming in Java, where David Hardin and Michael Frerking from aJile Systems describe how to develop a line-following robot using Lego Mindstorm and aJile components.

To round off last month's article on making Java for embedded computing a reality, Steven Schwarz and Vincent Perrier from Wind River write about determining if Java is right for your embedded device. They include a case study in the form of a hands-on porting exercise. Just the ticket if you want to get your hands really "dirty."

Author Bio
Jason Briggs works as a Java analyst programmer in London. He's been officially developing in Java for three years - unofficially for just over four. [email protected]

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