Commentary

On Technology

By Phil Baker

HotSpot @Home provides an innovative offering

While most of the U.S. cellular providers consider WiFi to be competition and go out of the way to keep it off their phones, T-Mobile has taken a more enlightened approach.

Innovating the basics: A new kind of notebook

While today's spiral notebooks and three-ring binders are much the same as they were 40 years ago, Levenger, a Florida-based company, has created a much improved design, called Circa. It fits right into our high-technology environment, providing a solution that lets us intermingle handwritten notes, which a vast majority of us still use, with computer-generated output.

Protecting your notebook

Many of us have become so dependent on our laptops that we take them nearly everywhere. But what would happen if your notebook were stolen? In addition to the loss of the computer itself, there are two other concerns, the loss of your data and the accessibility of that data to whoever accesses your computer. What information would the thief be able to access? Credit-card numbers, bank account information, photos, music, passwords?

Laptops for children in third-world countries

One Laptop Per Child, the brainchild of Nicholas Negroponte of MIT's Media Lab, is a project to develop a $100 laptop, affordable for children in third-world countries. It's targeted for all children, even those that have no schools to attend and is intended to keep them from being left behind.

Turning voice mail to e-mail

If you love your BlackBerry, I have a product for you! And if you hate voice mail, you'll like this even more. Designed for people who live their lives around e-mail, SimulScribe, from the company of the same name, is a service that works on almost any phone with e-mail capability. The company began life in Del Mar and is now located in New York City.

Products for good listening

There's been an explosion of speaker systems that turn an iPod into a personal-sized home stereo. All are about the size of a shoebox with a dock for an iPod, and are available from many well-known speaker companies such asJVC, Altec-Lansing, Klipsch, and Bose. They're ideal for a bedroom, den or dorm room and range in price from $150 to $400.

Apples and Lemons?

When I reviewed Microsoft's Windows Vista earlier this year, I recommended waiting a few months before moving to it. Nine months later, it's difficult to find much to praise about Vista's performance, and, contrary to expectations, Microsoft has not yet released a significant upgrade to fix its problems.

Accessory roundup: speakerphones, cases, more

Here's a roundup of some innovative new products, including Bluetooth devices, well-designed cases for the iPhone and a variety of other tools.

The iPhone vs. the Treo

If you're a Treo user should you switch to an iPhone? Or if you're considering a new smartphone, how do these popular models compare?

What's behind Google's search engine

Google has come to dominate the search business. Millions of people use it dozens of times a day, attracting a huge amount of attention, money and technology from companies scrambling to appear near the top of the search rankings. Landing on the front page can be as good as gold; a company's revenue can skyrocket. To take advantage of this, more companies are moving advertising from broadcast and print to the Internet.

Travel assistance on your Smartphone

I've been testing two new applications for smartphones designed to assist frequent travelers while on the road. WorldMate Professional from MobiMate (mobimate.com) and Pocket Express Travel Edition from Handmark(pocketexpress.com) each provide a set of utilities that enables you to check schedules and flight status as well as perform a variety of other travel-related tasks.

Lenovo T61 ThinkPad: The ultimate notebook?

When Lenovo bought IBM's computer division, there was concern that its Thinkpads might lose their edge for performance and reliability. Never the lowest cost choice, they were nevertheless standard issue in many companies for their dependability and good technical support.

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