On Technology

By Phil Baker

The potential of multimedia

The advances taking place in multimedia and high-speed connectivity really gelled for me while I was on a weeklong business trip to Taipei earlier this month. Throughout the trip, I used a variety of software and services to entertain, educate and stay in touch with back home. It was a far cry from the past -- being bored to death in a hotel room, watching CNN International regurgitate the same stories hourly.

Year of the Smart Phone

With the introduction of more than a dozen new smart phones at last month's 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona and January's announcement of the iPhone, 2007 looks to be the year that the smart phone goes mainstream and sales really take off. Gartner Group, a marketing research firm, projects sales to grow 70 percent from 74 million in 2006 to 122 million units worldwide. IDC, another research firm, said 24 million units were shipped in the fourth quarter 2006 alone.

Assessing cell phone headsets that claim to cut background noise

Two new Bluetooth cell phone headsets claim big improvements in making it easier to conduct clear conversations: the Jawbone ($120) from Aliph of San Francisco ( and the Discovery 665 ($90) from Plantronics of Santa Cruz (

MediaFLO introduces stand-alone system for wireless multimedia

Viewing video on our cell phones has been available from cellular providers for about two years, but analysts estimate less than 1 percent of people use it.

A digital SLR that shakes up the competition

While sales of digital cameras fell for the first time this past quarter, sales of digital SLRs (DSLR) increased and are forecasted to grow by almost 20 percent in 2007. Why? Because, with the new DSLR models offering greater value than ever, many buyers are upgrading to these more capable cameras. A prime example is the new Pentax K10 ( that I've been trying out.

Windows Vista: More attractive, improved security and fast searching

By now you've likely been subjected to the start of a huge ad campaign to purchase Microsoft's new Windows Vista, the operating system that's replacing Windows XP. It's been five years in development involving thousands of employees and cost $6 billion. It may very well be Microsoft's last major upgrade for many years, as people will be relying more on browsers and online computing in the years to come.

Tools for business traveling

Here's an assortment of new products and a couple of software services designed for the business traveler. They all attempt to make traveling a little more convenient and enjoyable.

Apple's new iPhone

Rarely does a new product create as much excitement as Apple's new iPhone. After years of rumors, Apple finally introduced its much-anticipated mobile phone. It's a terrific product, but is it for everyone? No.

Gadget nirvana: CES and MacWorld

This past week, two of the most exciting and important shows for the personal computer and consumer electronics community were held: the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and MacWorld in San Francisco.

Getting professional support for your PC

Computers can perform wondrous tasks, but when something goes wrong most of us are ill-equipped to fix the problem.

Now TV is personal

I'm sitting at a gate at Chicago O'Hare waiting for my flight back home. But instead of the usual boredom, I'm watching my home TV on my notebook computer.

Predictions for 2007

This is one of the few times in the year that I go back and read an earlier column -- the one written this time last year predicting the gadget trends for 2006. How accurate were they? About 60 percent correct. But that won't stop me from predicting what to expect in 2007.

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