Commentary

On Technology

By Phil Baker

A PC in your pocket

This past week I traveled out of town for a few days without lugging a notebook computer for the first time in years. While I normally spend hours each day using my MacBook or my ultra-compact Sony Vaio TX notebook, this time I just took the new OQO model 02 pocket computer (www.oqo.com). I thought this would be a good test to see if the tiny product, which I could carry with me everywhere, could satisfy my needs for a PC and what compromises I'd need to make.

Traffic reporting for the digital highway

One of my summer jobs during college was measuring traffic data for the Port Authority of New York. I drove up and down New York City's avenues recording the starts and stops to help its mathematicians better predict traffic flow.

Attracting the business traveler with technology

The travel industry works hard to attract and retain business travelers, who typically spend more money and are more loyal than any other customer group. Airlines, rental-car companies and hotels have been in the forefront of using technology to appeal to this technically savvy group.

Notebook politics

I'm writing this column from a 747 on the way to Shanghai for a business meeting. I've been visiting Asia for more than 20 years, ever since I started developing cameras in Japan for Polaroid and then notebooks in Taiwan for Apple. But the progress occurring in China's technology sector is beyond anything I could have anticipated.

Many ways to avoid getting lost

With so many choices of GPS navigation devices, there's no longer any excuse for getting lost. But with GPS devices available as handheld units, built in to your car or as software for your mobile phone, what's your best choice?

New photo products debut at annual PMA show

The Photo Marketing Association Show, held earlier this month in Las Vegas, is where many of the year's new cameras and imaging products are introduced. This year's event had fewer new products than in the past, mostly tweaks and minor upgrades.

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 (www.jawbone.com) and the Discovery 665 ($90) from Plantronics of Santa Cruz (www.plantronics.com).

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 (www.pentaxslr.com) 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.

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