Commentary

On Technology

By Phil Baker

Top 10 mobile phones for the holidays

Here are my recommendations for some of the best mobile phones for giving or receiving this holiday season. Each is new this year and offers something special. Prices quoted are with a new 2-year service commitment, unless noted.

Holiday gift guide

Welcome to the annual holiday technology gift guide. I've assembled a variety of products that are novel, useful and perform well based on my own use.

Kindle: Amazon's amazing new electronic book

When Amazon's Kindle e-book reader first surfaced last week, reviews on Amazon's own site were mostly negative. What was amazing was that the product had not yet even shipped. The reviewers were simply making a judgment based on looking at pictures and critiquing the specs.

Dynamic duo of digital photography

With the holiday season approaching and digital photography one of the biggest categories for gift giving (to others and to oneself), I've been trying out two products that would make wonderful choices for serious photographers: Canon's newest prosumer digital SLR, the EOS 40D and Epson's large format printer R1800 that produces color prints up to 13 inches by 44 inches.

Companies crowd PCs with third-party software

You've just bought a $2,000 computer and are eager to load it with your favorite programs, move over your data files and give it a spin. You'd think the computer company that worked for your business would want to make that experience as pleasant as possible.

Three useful tools for business

The Edirol R-09 is a product I learned about from a journalist friend who used it for recording interviews. I discovered it's become popular among people who record high-quality audio because of its very high performance and portability.

Technology, the San Diego fires: Some random thoughts

Although technology played a role for many of us that were evacuated, I'm sure we'd give up all of our gadgets to be able to be home safely.

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.

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