First there was the desktop computer, then the laptop and most recently, the handheld. Now there's Pulse, a pen computer from Livescribe, a startup company in Oakland, Calif.
I recently purchased a small, simple video camera to take videos of my family, including my new grandson. I chose the Panasonic SDR-SW20 ($399) because it was compact, simple and used SD memory cards. These cards are plummeting in price, provide lots of storage capacity in their tiny form factor, and make it easy to transfer the videos to the computer.
Manufacturers of portable GPS devices, called PNDs (personal navigation devices), are adding all sorts of features, many of dubious value such as picture viewers and music players.
If you've been watching the TV ads with the PC and Apple guys going head to head on Mac vs. Vista, you might be surprised to learn that Microsoft offers its own product that's nearly indispensable for some Mac users. Office for Mac is used by about 50 percent of all Mac owners and is a big profit maker for Microsoft. Its files are fully compatible with the Windows version of Office, eliminating the problems of opening attachments and reading files that plagued the Mac in its early years. An entirely separate group from the Office for Windows team developed the product, but both teams collaborated to ensure compatibility.
This year's CTIA show in Las Vegas, held April 1-3, had 1,200 exhibiting companies and more than 40,000 attendees from 125 countries.
Fujitsu has introduced the smallest scanner ever to read both sides of a page and feature an automatic document feed.
This past week, the Travel Goods Show, the industry's annual trade show, was held at the San Diego Convention Center.
I'm sitting on a comfortable chair with a new device in my hands from a San Diego company of the same name. It's called Chumby, a cute name for an equally cute little product. It looks unlike anything I've seen before, sort of a small softball-sized leather beanbag with a 3.5-inch color screen just begging to be picked up. You wouldn't know that it's a tiny, but powerful computer.
Thin and light notebooks are not new, but they've recently become big news with the introduction of Apple's new MacBook Air and Lenovo's new ThinkPad X300. Sony, Toshiba and Fujitsu have had models with similar weights and dimensions, albeit with more compromises, but haven't captured the attention that these products have. I've been using the X300 and the Air for two weeks and like them both. Since they each use a different operating system, they really don't compete with one another, but it's interesting to see the vastly different approaches taken.
This is an amazing time for new gadgetry of all sorts -- everything from flat panel TVs to printers to digital cameras to computers. But along with the rapid advances are much shorter product lives. Many of us are on to our third printer or second flat-panel TV. In fact, we purchased 22 million computers last year, and will buy 32 million digital TVs in 2008.
It's never been easier or more affordable to back up your computer online. You have insurance for most things, why not for all your files, photos, music and important documents as well? You never know when your hard drive will fail or your computer will be lost or stolen.
While many companies make universal remote controls designed to combine all your separate remotes into one, few are both easy to set up and simple to use. Many of them are so complex that you need an audio-video specialist to program in the settings.
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Phil Baker is an expert in new product development and market development for large and small companies. He has held senior product development and marketing positions with Apple, Polaroid, Seiko, Proxima, ...About the author