Hardware/Software UI Relationship

David Duardo dduardo at gmail.com
Tue Jul 17 18:46:48 CEST 2007

Al Johnson wrote:
> On Monday 16 July 2007 23:00, David Duardo wrote:
>> This is where I ran into trouble As high resolution as the the LCD is,
>> it simply is too small to be used with a finger based user interface,
>> which is what most people would want to use on a cellphone because it is
>> most convenient. At the upper bound, with the Neo1973, you can have 3
>> columns by 4 rows of buttons that are of a comfortable size (.5x.5
>> inch^2). Actually, the buttons can be slightly smaller and more compact,
>> but I'm estimating for people with slightly bigger fingers. You can see
>> can see what I mean in the following image:
>> http://img107.imageshack.us/my.php?image=neo1973screenwq9.png
>> Compare this with the iPhone LCD which is only 480x320, but allows for 4
>> columns by 6 rows of buttons of a comfortable size (.5x.5 inch^2). Again
>> you can see what I mean in the following image:
>> http://img360.imageshack.us/my.php?image=iphonescreenff5.png
> This had me digging out the PDF mockup and trying things. For 1 handed thumb 
> operation the Neo screen is slightly too tall for me to cover comfortably, 
> but I could cope with a little more width. This makes the extra height of the 
> iPhone display useless as a single-handed control surface, though it may be 
> useful as an uncovered display area. 
> For 2 handed operation I dug opened my trusty Psion 5. While this has a stylus 
> I usually don't bother with it as it's easier to tap the screen with the 
> fingernail of my index finger to avoid fingerprints on the screen. I can 
> reliably hit the smallest 6mm square icons that way. Just to see how much 
> difference it would make I tried the more conventional way, starting with the 
> icons set to their biggest, 10mm. No problem. Still no problem at 8mm, and 
> only occasional problems down at 6mm. Then again I have smallish fingers, but 
> on this basis 12mm should be more than enough.

For the singled handed situation I think the thickness of the Neo1973 is
what's making it uncomfortable. I have an LG phone that is about a
quarter inch thinner, but the keypad is a quarter inch larger than the
Neo1973 LCD and I can reach everything comfortably with my thumb.

As for the 2 handed operation, I'll quote a previous post I wrote:

"That's great that you have the dexterity to use your fingernails to poke at tiny buttons, but what about the wider audience? Do you think Aunt Jane or Uncle Leo would feel comfortable operating a phone with such tiny buttons?"

I think a button with a 10mm width is the threshold for finger input.
Unfortunately,  I did the calculation in a response to Lars in this
thread, and showed that this was only possible with the slightly larger
iPhone LCD, but not with the Neo1973 LCD.

>> To add salt to the wound, the Neo1973 has a bevel around the whole
>> screen, which further limits the use of the outer portion of the LCD. On
>> the iPhone, the screen is flush with the case, so you can have buttons
>> that extend all the way to the extremes of the screen.
> I find the bevel at the edge of my laptop  touchpad actually enhances 
> operation around the edges by giving tactile feedback as to where the edge 
> is. This makes the scrolling function with the synaptics driver much easier 
> to use than on a machine I tried recently with it flush mounted.

But you still have to make the scroll bar thicker in order to
compensate. On a laptop this might not matter, but on a phone every
pixel matters.

>> I'm fully aware that the Neo1973 is a 1st generation device, but from my
>> perspective, based on the choice of LCD and the current softare found in
>> the qemu image, this first phone seems to be heading in the direction of
>> a PDA with phone capabilities rather than a phone that happens to have
>> PDA like capabilities .
> For me anything relying solely on a touchscreen is already too big to be 
> primarily a phone. If I'm going to carry anything that big I want a 
> functional replacement for my Psion with ease if use to match, and the Neo 
> might just make it, minus the excellent keyboard and battery life of course.

With antenna, the Neo1973 is no bigger than the flip phone I have now.
The iphone is slightly smaller than the Neo1973. Personally, I think the
size right now is fine. It's trying to maximize the functionality within
that space which is the difficult part.

>> Is this where the community wants to go? To have an open source PDA like
>> the Zaurus, but with phone capabilities?
> I suspect different parts of the community want different things. I still love 
> the Psion 5 form factor and would love to see a worthy successor to mix with 
> a small, simple phone like the old Nokia 8210. Maybe I'll be lucky with a 
> later model ;-)

Sure, but FIC has to make the determination of what software is going to
be included on the final phone in October. Who is going to be targeted
in that release?

An option is to segment the market and allow the user on first boot to
choose what they want to use the phone for. Does the user simply want a
basic phone? Do they like to text a lot? Do they need access to their
companies internal email system?

Personally, I tend to dislike this sort of system, because of the
confusion it may cause (See Windows Vista's release), but you never
know, could work if done right.

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