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MobileFocus 99 Event
by Rick Smith
(Monday evening, June 22, 1999)

Last night (Monday, June 22, 1999), at the MobileFocus 99 held at the Tribecca Rooftop, in conjunction with DigitalFocus 99, I saw dozens of new and innovative mobile and portable products. While it was difficult to see everything at both of these events in only three hours, this article describes many of the products that were there.


Brother MP-21 C portable color printer
Designed for mobile professionals, this 2.2 pound, portable, 720x720 dpi, color printer packs a lot of capabilities into its small dimensions (2" x 11.81" x 4.17"). The most clever feature of this printer is that it attaches to your laptop via a PC Card (PCMCIA) slot and it draws power from this slot, eliminating the need for heavy batteries or having to carry a bulky AC adapter. If you need to connect to a desktop computer or don't want to feed in each sheet, Brother has thought of that. There are two versions, the MP-21C at $299 and the MP-21Cdx at $349. The MP-21Cdx includes the MP-21C printer (and its PCMCIA interface) along with a 30 page sheet feeder, AC adapter and Parallel cable kit. Separately, the sheet feeder is $79.99 and the AC adapter/Parallel cable kit is $49.99, so I advise getting the MP-21Cdx for maximum versatility in the office as well as on the road. I carry a Brother HJ-100i printer (with battery pack) and its sheet feeder, each of which is about the same size as a laptop, when I travel to Comdex in the Fall. They work extremely well. The addition of the MP-21C printer to Brother's product line, certainly demonstrates Brother's constant improvements to mobile printing.


Corex Area Code Fix software screen shot
This unique software helps users update area codes in popular contact managers and personal information managers (PIMs), caused by the large number area code split throughout the US. Seems like the phone companies could have made life easier for us by not splitting area codes by simply letting people keep there old area codes and telephone numbers, like I have heard they do in Germany. But since they didn't Corex seems to have a great solution because it examines historical splits and reliably recommends changes.


Duracell Ultra battery package
The newly redesigned Duracell Ultra batteries, intended for today's portable devices, now last 80 percent longer in digital cameras, 60 percent longer in flash cameras and 80 percent longer in cellular phones than ordinary alkaline batteries. These new Ultra batteries last about 20 percent longer than Duracell Ultra batteries of just a year ago (when they were introduced). A proprietary separator material, enhanced cathode design and a high power anode composition, packaged in a new, patented cell design which maximizes internal volume, helps provide this increase in power. A 2 pack of AA batteries are priced at $3.99, about 20 percent more than standard Duracell Alkaline batteries. Several manufacturer's are now specifying Duracell Ultra Alkaline batteries such as Psion for its handheld PDAs, Vtech for the Helios (see brief) and Logitech for its cordless mice.


Eveready Energizer ACCU rechargeable battery package
Eveready Battery Company has announced a complete line of ACCU Rechargeable Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries, available in all popular cell sizes - AA, AAA, C, D and 9 volt. Since current digital products are high energy devices and each new device seems to use even more energy, NiMH batteries, which can be charged up to 1,000 times, can help you take more pictures at a lower cost per picture than other current battery technology (especially standard Alkaline). NiMH batteries also have NO memory effect like NiCad batteries. While we haven't tried them for 1,000 recharges, we did get excellent results with the currently available Harding Energy batteries in the Nikon 900S review we did at the Indy 500 last month.


Iomega Clik!

This drive which fits in a PCMCIA type II slot retails for $199 and holds 40 megabytes of data. Wouldn't it be great if this media were used in a digital camera? See our first looks at this device - Iomega Clik! - too cool for words


Novatel Merlin Wireless PC Modem
Novatel announced Merlin - a wireless, 1.6 ounce, Type II modem that allows Windows 95, 98, 2000, NT or CE devices to wirelessly connect to the Internet, send and receive email and access corporate data. Each Merlin device has its own IP address and by using CDPD (Cellular Digital Packet Data) also known as Wireless IP, it can send and receive packets of information over the existing cellular telephone network. If the connection is lost, Merlin automatically attempts to reconnect, and then resumes its transmission and reception. This automatic recovery strategy, in addition to advanced verification techniques, makes Wireless IP a reliable method for data transmission. Merlin is priced at $279 and will be available on August 1999.


The SoftBook eBook system
In some science fiction books, set in the future, everyone carries an electronic book or newspaper with them and small children are fascinated to hear their grandparents speak of old-fashioned books, where the text stays in place and doesn't move - Welcome to the Future. SoftBook has created a portable, sub-three pound device that lets you read "books" and periodicals in a completely electronic format. While there are other electronic devices that display electronic text, the ability to read, in your easy chair, on a airplane flight, or in any vehicle, in fact anywhere, is much more difficult. The SoftBook eBook system offers features much like a real book; you can turn pages, use bookmarks and even annotate pages on its touch sensitive, greyscale screen. But SoftBook goes beyond a book, it has a built-in modem for getting new "content" and a computer processor for quick searches and the ability to change the size of the type, for easier reading. The SoftBook eBook unit retails for $299. For $9.95 per month, you get access to news bulletins, free books and periodicals, unlimited online bookshelf space, free system upgrades and the SoftBook network. The SoftBook unit has 2 megabytes of memory, enough for 1,500 pages and is expandable to 64 Mb of memory (50,000 pages). It can run for 5 hours on a charge and takes about 2 hours to recharge its Lithium-Ion batteries. The SoftBook eBook even has a backlit display, so you can read in dim light.


Sharp Actius PC-A250 laptop
Weighing barely 3 pounds, this ultralite portable offers great color with its brilliant (you have to see the excellent "sharp" color) 11.3 inch 16 million color SVGA TFT screen. It packs a 10/100 Ethernet connector, 56K modem, two USB ports, VGA port, type II PCMCIA slot, Intel 300 MHz Mobile Pentium II PE processor, 64 Mb SDRAM (expandable to 128 Mb), 6.4 GB hard drive into a package about an inch thick! The floppy drive combo unit includes a serial, parallel and a PS/2 mouse/keyboard port. The 20X CD-ROM is external and optional. The Sharp Actius PC-A250 retails for $2,499. Sharp states the unit will run for almost two hours of continuous computing, but they used their "Sharp minds" to create a hot-swappable external battery pack for extended usage which gets you another four hours. With this unit, and the external pack, you can now compute during an ENTIRE coast to coast flight.

Sony Laptops
Reviews OnLine had already been to Sony's Pre-PC Expo event in New York last month and Sony displayed theF250 notebooks, F290 notebooks, F505SX SuperSlim Pro, the Vaio C1X picture book computer and their Voice File Recorders

(See more Sony coverage).


Symantec pcAnywhere 9.0 screen shot
Symantec recently announced the latest version (9.0) of pcAnywhere, which helps PC users transfer and synchronize files between two computers, as well as the ability to connect and control a distant computer using a serial modem or Internet connection. This new version is easier to customize, deploy and centrally manage through its configurable deployment utility, enhanced Host Administrator and network management tool integration. Security, logging and auditing have also been improved, through the use of NT user and group authentication, unsecured host protection, forced username and password setup during installation, centralized logging and an updated Norton AntiVirus scanning engine. For the local user, pcAnywhere enables better productivity with a new File Manager, AutoColor scale and Tru-Color enhancements. These color features allow automatic usage of highest common denominator of color depth between the host and the remote and support for unlimited colors in viewing high resolution images remotely. And pcAnywhere appears to be ready for Windows 2000. The estimated retail price of this product is $169. This product will soon be reviewed by Reviews OnLine.


Targus USB MiniMouse
This lightweight (2.4 ounce) USB mouse is designed for mobile workers that need to save space (3.3" x 1.6" x 1"), yet want an external mouse on the go. It features an ergonomic design that fits the hand along with plug and play compatibility (USB 1.1) with Windows 98. The Targus USB MiniMouse retails for $29.95.


Targus USB Mobile Mini Hub

The world's first portable (2.5 ounce) 4 port hub retails for $69. This compact (4.5" x 1.5" x 1") hub features Plug and Play so you can connect and disconnect different devices without having to restart your computer. This USB Mobile Mini Hub can power most devices, directly from the computer's USB port, but an AC adapter is included if additional power is required. The cable that connects the Mini Hub to the computer is ATTACHED (something less to forget or lose).


3Com Megahertz Global GSM and Cellular Modem PC Card
Announced at PC Expo 99 and available now, the 3Com Megahertz 56K Global GSM and Cellular Modem PC Card can be used to connect to a conventional telephone line, as well as popular cellular and GSM phones. The popular Megahertz XJACK connector is now sturdier and lights up when you are connected. I have always liked XJACK connectors because they eliminate the need for extra cables or "pods". This new XJACK connector can even can break away, if it gets pulled too hard by someone tripping over the cord and then be quickly snapped back in place. Included in the package is the WorldPort country selection software, which assists in configuring your modem for foreign phone lines when traveling, by simply clicking on the appropriate flag or country name. The 3Com Megahertz Global GSM and Cellular Modem PC Card can be used on laptops running Windows 95/98/2000 and NT 4.0 as well as Mac OS, LINUX and DOS. The list price is $229 and includes a limited, lifetime warranty.


3Com Palm VII
On display from 3Com was the Palm VII, the latest in their line of pen/touch based PDAs. The Palm VII is different than its predecessors because it sports an antenna, for wireless Internet and information access. Through the Palm Net wireless service, users can now connect to the Internet, conduct e-commerce and send and receive instant messages. This service is now available in the New York area and will soon become available in other regions of the US. National availability will occur by the end of 1999, in 260 major metropolitan areas. Many information services will be available such as news, sports, traffic, entertainment, finance and travel. At PC Expo, Etak demonstrated their Traffic Touch software. See product brief about Etak

The estimated street price of the Palm VII is $599.


Xircom CompactCard Ethernet 10
This 10 based T adapter for Windows CE devices shipped the following Monday (June 28, 1999) and it connects CE devices to Ethernet LANs at speeds nearly 200 times faster than a 56K serial connection. The Xircom CompactCard Ethernet 10 saves energy by powering down when not in use (something CE devices have little to spare). Also included is a PCMCIA sized holder that converts this device to a 10 based T PCMCIA card for laptops.

Copyright 1999 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

   
MobileFocus Exhibitors
Brother
Corex
Duracell
Eveready
Iomega
Novatel
SoftBook Press
Sharp
Sony
Symantec
Targus
3Com Megahertz
3Com Palm Computing
Xircom
 

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