Time's Harry McCracken on the battery life mystery and Polaroid Super Shooters

Billy Steele
B. Steele|04.19.13

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Time's Harry McCracken on the battery life mystery and Polaroid Super Shooters

Every week, a new and interesting human being tackles our decidedly geeky take on the Proustian Q&A. This is the Engadget Questionnaire.

Time's technology editor-at-large Harry McCracken offers his take on OS agnosticism and the golf disconnect in our latest weekly inquiry session. A collection of responses to the rest of our tech questions resides on the other side of the break.

Time's Harry McCrackenWhat gadget do you depend on most?
My iPad, with a Bluetooth keyboard -- at the moment, Logitech's new Keyboard Folio. It's the computer I use 85 percent of the time.

Which do you look back upon most fondly?
My Psion 5 palmtop -- in certain ways, it was a better-designed pocket computer than any modern smartphone.

Which company does the most to push the industry?
Boring answer, but true: Apple.

What is your operating system of choice?
I'm an OS agnostic -- I'm happiest flitting between iOS, Android, OS X, Windows and others.

What are your favorite gadget names?
I like ones that are kind of goofy and lovable -- PalmPilot, Walkman, Game Boy...

What are your least favorite?
Any random-letters-and-digits ones I can't remember when I want to recommend a product -- like the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100.

Which app do you depend on most?
A wonderful iPad blogging app called Blogsy, which I use to write most of my stuff.

What traits do you most deplore in a smartphone?
Unreliability. If it doesn't work, nothing else matters.

"Battery life remains the great unsolved problem of the consumer electronics industry, except for E Ink e-readers."

Which do you most admire?
A good browser is the single most important app in the world.

What is your idea of the perfect device?
Any one that starts to feel like an extension of my brain.

What is your earliest gadget memory?
Maybe the Polaroid Super Shooter cameras that my grandmother gave to my sister and me, circa 1975.

What technological advancement do you most admire?
The arrival of high-quality, low-cost color LCDs in the 1990s was essential to a whole bunch of gadget categories.

Which do you most despise?
Anything that helps a government spy on its citizens.

What fault are you most tolerant of in a gadget?
Missing features, as long as the ones that are there are good.

Which are you most intolerant of?
Signs of contempt for the customer, such as cruddy pre-installed apps.

When has your smartphone been of the most help?
Every single time I wonder about any fact. What a blessing to be able to get an answer instantly.

What device do you covet most?
If I were fabulously wealthy, I'd buy myself a Tourbillon watch. Maybe several.

If you could change one thing about your phone what would it be?
Battery life remains the great unsolved problem of the consumer electronics industry, except for E Ink e-readers.

What does being connected mean to you?
I long ago forgot what it's like to not be connected.

When are you least likely to reply to an email?
Sadly, I'm not as good about email as I should be, so the true answer is "any time."

When did you last disconnect?
At the 2012 golf US Open -- cameras, phones and other gadgets were barred from the grounds.

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