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Extras - What's New On the Technology Side

By Barbara Fullerton, Published on November 15, 2001

by Barbara Fullerton
Electronic Resources Librarian, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Johnston, IA

Today's technology world offers a better quality and a better value of its products, intriguing new users to become familiar with  cell phones, Blackberrys, and other wireless gadgets and video conferencing equipment. Technologies that used to be unpopular are now in growing demand. 

HANDHELDS 

The most exciting gadget coming on the market is a hand-held called The Treo. Handspring’s new invention packs a mobile phone, personal organizer with the Palm operating system, and a Blackberry-style text messenger all in one device. Handspring will release two versions in Winter/Spring 2002: the Treo 180 with a keyboard and Treo 180g with the Graffiti handwriting recognition system. Each model is priced about $600. Price will be reduced to about $400 if a wireless service is purchased. 

The Treo's rival is the Samsung I300 with a color screen and virtual keypad. The user dials directly from a built-in address book and can set up 99 speed-dial numbers. Battery life is about four hours of talk and 100 hours of standby. It comes equipped with email and Netsurfing capabilities. Price is about $500. 

Wireless phones are also popular, and becoming smaller in size. Panasonic has two products: the Allure, weighing in at 2.7 ounces and the Versio weighing in at 3.1 ounces. Both phones are dual-band. Users can pick from six different backlight colors for the display screen. The Allure stores 250 names and responds to 40 voice commands. Sell price is about $150. The $130 Versio holds 100 names and has one-touch dialing.

Are you tired of lugging around that heavy laptop? Good news! NEC has introduced a subnotebook called MobilePro 790. Included on the 1.8 pound hand-held touch-screen PC is Windows 2000, Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Internet Explorer. It also has an 8-inch screen, a 56K modem and full-size keyboard. Cost is about $899. 

Another hot item is the wireless handheld Blackberry. The Blackberry’s service is housed on a server, so a user’s email account is always available and connected.  From the home or office, users can check their email messages on a 24/7 basis. Encryption technology is also offered. The Blackberry has an organizer and a micro-browser for Internet capabilities. Prices range from $399-$600. The wireless service is $39.99/month.  

DIGITAL CAMERAS 

Remember Polaroids? Nowadays it's digital cameras that give the photographer instant gratification. No more waiting to see if the photo is good! With a digital camera, you can take photos, save them to a disk or CD, and send the images digitally via e-mail. These cameras give new meaning to the phrase “One Hour Processing.”  The 6.5-ounce Nikon Coolpix 775 takes good resolution photos, and is easy to use and hold.  This auto-focus camera is priced at $400, which includes battery and charger with five built-in flash modes. It has a “Best Shot Selector” to create sharp images even in difficult handheld shooting situations.

The Kyocera EZ Digital 1.3 makes emailing photographs simple with its ArcSoft Instant e-mail software. The user can download photos to an online printer and print good quality photographs thanks to the EZ Digital's multiple resolution modes. The camera includes a real time clock, auto or manual white balance, and has four flash modes. It also stores images as .jpeg files. Price is about $400. Look for rebates and sales during the holiday season.  

VIDEO CONFERENCING  

With travel delays and restrictions, conferencing technologies are becoming less of a fad and more of a trend. These technologies include teleconferencing, videoconferencing, web conferencing, and instant messaging. The cost for video conferencing tools has dropped from $30,000 to about $5,000. There are a number of companies that provide videoconferences’ solutions. The big names are Tandberg, Inc. Polygram, and PictureTel (Note: Polygram has acquired PictureTel). To understand what equipment to purchase, the LCDprojector.net site has provided a few tips to use when searching for a videoconferencing system.  

BIBLIOGRAPHY

“Blackberrys Provide Link to Home During Crisis,” Carlyn Kolker, American Lawyer Media, Oct. 1, 2001.  

“Mixing Palm with Phone-Another Try,” David Pogue, New York Times, Oct. 18, 2001.  

“60 Gadgets in 60 Minutes,” Compiled by Roger Skalbeck, LLRX.com, Aug. 1, 2001.  

“Technology News Watch,” New York Times, Thursday, Oct. 18, 2001.  

“Videoconferencing Made Easy: Groupware Plug-in Enables Conferencing Through Messaging and Collaboration Apps,” Christine Zimmerman, Internetweek.com, April 2, 2001.

“Virtual Meetings Yield Real Results,” Information Week, page 70, Oct. 22, 2001.