Commentary

On Technology

By Phil Baker

A reviewer's look at new desktop accessories

Computer accessories have become a multibillion-dollar industry led by companies like Logitech (Nasdaq: LOGI), Belkin, Targus and scores of others selling millions of mice, keyboards, cases and other gadgets. Part of its growth is driven by the much higher margins retailers get for many of these products compared to the razor-thin profits from computer sales. This week I look at a sampling of some recently introduced accessories that are useful or at least intriguing.

When it comes to megapixels, eight may be more than enough

Marketing folks at high-tech companies like to provide a simple message consumers can understand. For stereo systems it's the number of watts and for cameras it's megapixels of resolution. This was evident this past week with the rollout of new cameras at the annual Photo Marketing Association trade show in Orlando, Fla.

Experimenting with worldwide Wi-Fi phoning

As I prepared for a trip to Tokyo and Shanghai this past week, I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out one of the latest Wi-Fi-enabled PocketPCs (PPC), equipped with the newly released Skype client for these devices.

Fighting back against spam, viruses

This week I look at PC software to protect your Wi-Fi network and to fight spam and viruses.

Cutting edge phone

The new Razr phone, which deserves an award just for its name, has become Motorola's biggest hit since 1996 when it introduced the StarTac, one of the most successful mobile phones in history. I know devoted StarTac users that buy older units on eBay just to ensure they'll always have one that works. Now they have a new product to lust over.

The best free software available

Whenever I hear "free software," the skeptic in me looks for the catch and the fine print. And there's often good reason.

Apple's tipping point

Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs, announced two significant new product lines at MacWorld last week in San Francisco: the iPod Shuffle, which uses a memory chip instead of a hard drive to store music, and the Mac Mini, a new Macintosh that's about the size of a clock radio.

Entertainment gadgets highlight Consumer Electronics Show

This year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas could best be titled "Let Me Entertain You!" Dozens of companies were showing solutions to take digital media -- music, video and photos, to the next level.

There's more to life than technology

While I love high tech, as you can probably tell from my columns, before I embark on the gadgetry of 2005, I have short profiles of two individuals that each demonstrate in their own way that there's more to life than just technology.

A recap of this year's product testing

Over the past year I've looked at more than 50 products. I found some to be well designed and perform as advertised, some that were hard to set up or install and difficult to use, and others that should never have seen the light of day.

Hindsight and foresight

Last year at this time I made a number of new product and technology predictions for 2004. Now it's time to recap and to predict what's in store for 2005.

Bah Humbug Technology Awards for 2004

Don't you hate it when companies treat you, the customer, badly? Well, these are my votes for what I'm calling the Bah Humbug Technology Awards. They're given to companies and individuals that don't demonstrate a giving attitude, at the holidays or any other time of the year.

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Phil Baker

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, ...

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