Holiday Gift Guide 2001
by Les Goldberg (September 21, 2001)
As an executive, homeowner, loving spouse and parent, you can expect a wide range of possibilities when it is time to open those alluring gift packages this holiday season. Could it be another bottle of cologne? Maybe it is a generous gift certificate? It might even be a set of golf clubs.
Why leave it ALL to chance? Why not drop a few hints here and there, around the office, at home or among friends? Let them know what gadgets and cool things are ringing your bell this year -- prompting you to utter the familiar words: "I gotta have it." Here's some food for thought.
The 1.44-megabyte floppy disk is quickly taking its place in personal computer antiquity, although most PCs still have the 3.5-inch drives as standard equipment. Replacing it as a solution to portable removable file storage are devices that offer larger capacity in smaller packages. Enter the Agaté Q Hard Drive from Agaté Technologies in Cerritos, California.
Available to both PC and Apple Macintosh users, the "Q" is a device so tiny that it can be carried on a key chain. In fact, like a key, the universal serial port (USB) flash memory plug-and-play storage product plugs directly into a USB port, stores either 16, 32 or 64MB of data, and requires no cables or power source.
Ideally, the Q Hard Drive is best for transferring your personal files between home and work, or for carrying files from a desktop to a laptop or to handheld devices such as MP3 units, palmtops or multifunction cell phones.
Prices range from $69 on up. System requirements are a USB port and Windows 98, ME or 2000, or a Mac running OS 9.x operating system.
Update: July 2002 - 256 megabyte versions of the Q Drive are now available from Agaté Technologies for about $300.
The just-introduced Fujitsu Stylistic LT P-600 is designed for on-the-go executives who need the power of their desktop, can't cope with the size and keyboard limitations of a handheld and still enjoy taking notes the old-fashioned way - with pen or pencil.
This is a full-featured laptop-sized PC sans keyboard. With a pen or stylus in hand, you simply input your data and navigate the system, while you roam your office or your building, or travel to and fro during business. With all the power of a full-blown workstation, the Stylistic LT P-600 includes "palm rejection" technology, ensuring more accurate data entry while using the pen. It also offers the first Smart Card Reader for secured online transactions, personalized authentication services, access to personal data and e-cash storage options. A wireless keyboard, portfolio case, mini docking station and a wireless network module are optional.
Update: July 2002 - More companies are creating pen-centric designs which will bring more people the "power of the pen".
This new Stylistic pen tablet starts at $3,899 is available through Fujitsu's sales network.
While it may look like an ordinary Montblanc pen, but there is nothing ordinary about the ChatPen, soon to be available from Ericsson, Motorola, Anoto and other manufacturers. (See our Product Brief about the Anoto pen.)
When used together with special digitized paper, this device lets you store and transmit basically anything you write or draw to anywhere in the world. Unbelievably, the pen contains a digital camera, an advanced image-processing unit, a Bluetooth (wireless) radio transceiver, a 70MHz processor, battery, memory and ink cartridge.
The tiny infrared camera recognizes patterns formed on the digital paper's faint grid and uses high-speed photography of the interaction between pen and paper to "read" what has been written. The pen then transmits the information to the Internet by mobile phone or computer.
The manufacturers envision the device to be used for memos and note-taking, with text than can be faxed or e-mailed anywhere, and the contents reproduced exactly without having to input the material into a computer. No price tag has been put onto this cutting-edge return to good penmanship.
Update: July 2002 -- Sony is working with Ericsson to bring many of their products to market, including this pen.
Gadgets are all about convenience, and there is nothing more inconvenient than having to take your slides or film to the neighborhood developing store. Thanks to the new PrimeFilm 1800 Silver scanner from Pacific Image Electronics in Torrance, California, those days are over.
This device, which resembles a silver sleek external disk drive or CD player in size and shape, lets you scan negatives and slides that are professional quality in both color and black and white.
One product reviewer said "some images scanned directly from negatives exposed an awful truth: the neighborhood photo lab does an awful job with the photographic prints I've been settling for."
You are on a flight back home from a busy schedule of meetings and you just want to sit back and relax. Forget about the airline movie, the headset and the eyestrain to view the monitor. Just reach for your Palm handheld and turn on the TealMovie.
Any Palm III or above model can become your private movie theater by installing the new Tealpoint Software product. TealMovie supports streaming video and audio files from external Virtual File System (VFS)-compatible expansion cards and standard wave (.WAV) audio files. Playback is up to 25 frames per second and full screen color or grayscale imagery is high.
The company offers a robust archive of movies and animations on its web site, www.tealpoint.com. The software can be downloaded for $19.95.
You've never experienced computer video gaming at home like this. Taking a page out of the arcade book of fun, The G Force GameFrame is a simulation cockpit designed to increase the realism and control of Playstation or PS2 driving games.
The GameFrame consists of an easy-to-assemble frame, an adjustable and flame-retardant Cobra bucket seat, a racing-type steering rack to hold a Thrustmaster 360 steering wheel with rubber-textured handgrips, authentic Formula 1 gearshift levers as adopted by Ferrari along with eight progressive quick-action buttons for proportional and realistic driving control. It features stable analog foot pedals or wheel-mounted progressive levers for fully controllable, dual acceleration/braking systems.
Unfortunately, you must order it online from only one source --www.gizmos-uk.com, and pay the U.S. equivalent of 349 English pounds, but once you or your family and friends prop themselves in front of a TV or monitor and start playing your games, you'll consider it one of your best holiday investments.
In fact, this is one gift idea that you may want to make sure shows up under your tree -- if you catch my drift.
Update: July 2002 -- It appears that the GameFrame is now unavailable and since we found only one source, obtaining one anywhere will be difficult.
Good luck! And, happy holidays.
© 2001 Les Goldberg All rights reserved.