Live blog results: Students can survive going fully mobile

Live blog results: can a student go 48 hours with nothing but their smartphone? Turns out you can, but it doesn't negate the desktop computer still.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor
After two whole days of living off nothing but my BlackBerry smartphone, I discovered today in reflection that it is in fact possible to remain out of contact from your desktop computer.

Though it isn't as simple as carrying around two batteries and hoping your data plan can cope with the stress of it; a smartphone isn't necessarily a desktop replacement quite yet.

With mobiles so important and intrinsic to our everyday lives, I charged up my phone, ditched the desktop, grabbed the spare battery and walked away from my desk.

The Generation Y use mobile phones more than any other generation there is or has been. While the BlackBerry was once dominated by the businessperson or financier in the city, students and younger people are more likely to have one now then the enterprise-types you would normally expect. 

The iTunes App Store, which included its offerings to the iPhone revolutionised the mobile market, allowing developer-submitted applications to be bought and downloaded, though a majority are still free for consumption. Other mobile manufacturers have also taken up this idea for their own: Nokia and Android platforms also take up an impressive marketshare.

The live blog which thousands of you read and participated in concluded late last night. In short, there was very little I couldn't do. The only thing suggested, outside of my own list of tests to try out was to download and run a torrent application or download manager, because no applications are available for the BlackBerry.

I downloaded PDF documents, and streamed music. I watched on-demand television and checked my lecture timetable.Though native to the BlackBerry handset and service, kept in email contact with all the people I needed to. With an Acid3 test score of 93/100, I could easily browse the web and with Amazon's multi-platform application, I even purchased an e-book with the Kindle application.

Throughout the live blog I bought and downloaded applications on the BlackBerry App World, wrote some of my essay, and tried and tested EverNote for academic purposes. I was even able to print a document using the cloud but to access HTML5 video I downloaded the Bolt browser. As you would expect, social media from Facebook to Twitter was a breeze, but anyone could expect that.

My data usage was still less than 15MB for the entire 48 hour period, though I did spend a great deal of time using home or university provided Wi-Fi access. My data plan allows 750MB and combined with the compression that the BlackBerry and the dedicated network provides, I still only use a fraction of my data allowance per month.

Though had I not used Wi-Fi for the entire time, download speeds would have suffered as the area I live and work in still has patchy 3G coverage, I would have used a great deal more bandwidth. Had I used a device or network which offers no compression, then the charges would have started racking up, especially without a data plan.

On the other hand, arguably it is easier to regulate your bandwidth on a mobile device, especially a smartphone, with data logs and the lack of ability to download huge files in most cases.

My hopes for trying other mobile devices, such as the iPhone or an Android device with an Acid3 test score of 100 and 90-92 respectively, were shattered by the extreme weather the United Kingdom is suffering, which caused many local stores in my area to shut.

There was nothing that I would ordinarily do as a student that I couldn't on a smartphone - in this case, a BlackBerry Bold 9700. But no, is the answer to whether the desktop is negated by this test.

The smartphone on the whole is great, provided you fulfil a series of simple answerable parameters. Is the phone right for you? Does it offer all that you need it to? Do you intend to do X, Y and Z on your device? Can you get Wi-Fi or 3G coverage? The list goes on. For me, I suspect in this live blog, I was particularly lucky on the most part.

But even the major drawbacks aside, such as the low screen size, lack of a fully-fledged mouse or QWERTY keyboard, something which entices young people into the BlackBerry market, using a mobile for 48 hours straight really hurts your hands. I don't know whether the pre-diagnosed carpal tunnel or the cold weather has helped much, but ergonomically considered devices are more important than I first realised.

Whether you use a Mac or a PC, the smartphone is a vastly useful piece of equipment and able on the most part to do everything you need to do. During a blackout or a broadband outage, you could survive if you were willing to make certain budgetary sacrifices, such as paying for applications you wouldn't ordinarily need.

But use your smartphone wisely. Though it can, it shouldn't be used as a replacement for the desktop, in my opinion. There's a reason why they call it a smart-'phone' and not a 'handheld desktop computer replacement'.

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