Below and after the jump, voice of the reading public on whether various electronic devices (camera, phone, e-reader, computer, what have you) will eventually converge in one super-duper device. I say No. The readers I quote here agree! And they have facts, tech specs, and so on to back up their/my case...
From a reader outside the US, on whether the coming pixel improvement in camera phones will be the magic moment when you no longer need a "real" camera:
"You probably know this, but they can cram 30 megapixels into a digital phone and it won't improve the picture quality much beyond 6 or 7MP. The hard-to-surmount-with-technology issue with tiny cameras is the width of the lens (how much light can come in). Other problems are focal length (hard to build a tiny zoom lens, although my old EX-V7 did a decent job of it) and the fact that a cellphone camera is bound to have a puny flash if any. Beyond a fairly low (well below the promised 10) threshold, adding megapixels is just a sales gimmick."
From a reader in the Midwest, on the general problem of all-in-one-ism:
"The are some obvious problems with the idea that there will eventually be one device that is "good enough" to replace separate phones, cameras, computers, etc.
"One is that the separate versions of these devices will continue to improve. The pictures made with pocket cameras for example do indeed rival the best film cameras of a few years ago. And they will get better (and cheaper). A dedicated camera will always have more space for a larger sensor (sensor size, not megapixels is the critical issue) and as pocket cameras improve to the point where they can also take 720 or 1080p, 30fps video, they will maintain the performance advantages they have over phones. And if today's consumers prefer separates, why should they stop doing so when the performance of pocket cameras moves from good to superb while the cost comes down?
"Then consider how people actually use these devices. My wife and I use our video and still cameras at home or on walks for the most part (and still and video technologies ARE merging). There is no advantage to picking up the phone over picking up one of the cameras. When we travel, we travel by road. We have no trouble finding space in the car for separates (and for the laptop). When it comes to computing, I need a near full-size, preferably physical keyboard and an OS that allows me to do everything on the road that I can do at home with no loss in speed. That means my computer can only be as small as the widest netbooks and at that size it's wildly impractical as a phone. Try to imagine running, biking or simply taking a walk with one. Weight may be important when I'm flying, but assuming each device is light enough, I don't need to carry one only device anymore than I need to carry only one shirt.
"Then there is the problem of cost. One device sounds nice if one has nothing to begin with. If one has already purchased a computer, a camera, a phone and a video-camera as we have, one tends to upgrade them separately and at different times. My wife and I have had more phones than cameras and more cameras than laptops. Why would we stick usable items in a drawer in exchange for a single device that can at best, only equal some the performance that we've already paid for?
"I get the impression that the "one device" crowd thinks that everyone lives in a big city, uses public transportation and carries everything in a backpack. Having as few devices as possible may make sense if that's who you are. But the overwhelming majority of us aren't."
I'm convinced. Oh, but wait a minute, for fairness here's an entry on the other side, from a reader on the West Coast. Inevitably all answers will turn out to be true and all varieties of device will emerge, as this reader suggests in his final paragraph.
"Personally, my new iPhone 3GS has crossed the threshold of being a "good enough" e-reader that I will probably never go for something big and clunky like a Kindle. And its camera, at 3MP, is almost the equal of the first digital camera I bought (3.3MP), from which I have many photos that are certainly "good enough." 10MP is near overkill for most casual snapping.
"Purists and enthusiasts will always sniff about quality, just like they gripe today that MP3s sound worse than CDs (which sound worse than vinyl discs), and that the compromised speakers used in multichannel home theater setups have killed the "true hi-fi" experience.
"All true, at least arguably, but the reality is simply that most consumers don't seem to care. Convenience wins over ultimate quality almost every time, it seems. Just look in your freezer."