Inside this invitation-only event
by Rick Smith (November 11, 2001)
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Compaq Evo N200
Latest addition to Evo family
When many people think of a Compaq laptop, they tend to think of well-built, expensive and massive portable hardware like the Armada. Even the Armada name evokes the image of massive power and strength. Compaq is now adding to their latest mobile laptop family with a new Evo model that is aggressively priced and very lightweight. It appears that Compaq is getting back to its roots of unique design and innovation, as it did when the company started (and when it introduced the revolutionary small Contura Aero in the mid 1990's).
The Compaq Evo Notebook N200 is lightest mini-notebook with a nearly all day battery life. Key features are:
Priced at just $1,799
Sub-one inch thickness (0.83 in / 2.11 cm)
Weighs 2.5 pounds (1.13 kg)
Features a 10.4" TFT XGA display
Uses 20 GB hard drive and 192 MB of memory
Is a legacy free design (no serial or parallel)
Single Type II PC Card Slot
Integrated 16-bit Stereo Sound
Powered by ultra-low voltage Mobile Intel Pentium III 700 MHz processor
The very thin edge view of the Compaq Evo N200
By combining the standard 6-cell Lithium Polymer battery with an optional 4-cell Lithium Ion external handle battery, you can get more than six hours of battery power.
rear of Compaq Evo N200 showing secondary battery location
The Evo N200 supports the Compaq WL110 Wireless PC Card for wireless LAN mobility and iPAQnet mobility wireless wide area networking solutions for connectivity anytime and anywhere.
Other models currently in the Evo line are the Compaq Evo Notebook N160 and Compaq Evo Notebook N600c.
The Compaq Evo N160 combines reasonable weight, maximum computing power and high-end multimedia capabilities for business users requiring an economical and mobile hardware platform. Key features of the N160 are:
Weighs just over five pounds
Price starts at $1,399
14.1" XGA TFT display
Mini-PCI V.92 modem
Integrated 10/100 NIC
DVD-ROM optical drive
20 GB hard drive
ATI Mobility Radeon Graphics
IEEE 1394 digital video input port
Powered by Intel Celeron 933 MHz or Pentium III 1000 MHz processor
The Compaq Evo N600c has had some new technology upgrades and now delivers workstation class performance with a more powerful processor and improved graphics. Key features of the N160 are:
Price starts at $1,999
Weighs less than 5 pounds
ATI Mobility Radeon graphics - 32MB DDR
14.1" SXGA+ TFT display
High performance DVD/CD-RW optical drives
Ergonomic full-sized keyboard
Contoured palm rest
Trackpoint and touchpad pointing device
Features 1.2 GHz Mobile Intel Pentium III processor
The N600c features the interchangeable MultiPort module that slides in and becomes an integral element of the notebook. Since the MultiPort module can be changed, you can connect to several different wireless standards such as 802.11b wireless LAN or Bluetooth by simply changing modules.
Instant Power Batteries
High-technology imaging products, like camcorders and digital cameras, need lots of battery power. When you run out of this power, you need to replace the battery or else stop your photo or video session. Since certain manufacturers use proprietary, non-standard batteries in their equipment, finding these special batteries can be difficult and time consuming. Fortunately, Electric Fuel has created a quick way to get power, on demand, whenever you run out.
When you run out of power, simply plug Electric Fuel's Instant Power battery into your digital camera or camcorder and keep shooting. No longer will you have to miss a critical shot when your camera runs out of battery power. Instant Power is a battery backup system -- similar to UPS, but for mobile devices.
If you're not convinced that you take critical shots in normal life, are you willing to risk running out of power during one of these occasions?
Your child's graduation
Dream vacation to Europe
Birth of your child
Surprise visit by grandchildren
To keep from missing an important shot, the Electric Fuel modules use the same zinc-air fuel cell technology as their batteries and chargers for cellphones and PDAs. These disposable, ready-to-use batteries have a 3.3 Ah capacity that generally provides up to 10 hours of continuous use. These modules activate upon exposure to oxygen in the air, so they are packaged in a hermetically sealed, reclosable aluminum pouch. This pouch can be reused again and again to preserve power between battery uses. When the Instant Power battery eventually runs out of energy, you can simply discard it in normal trash, because these zinc-air batteries are safe and environmentally friendly.
These batteries connect directly to your digicam or camcorder through the same jack as an AC adapter. Now you don't have to wait for your device's own rechargeable batteries to completely charge before using your camera or camcorder.
If your equipment uses AA or AAA batteries, using the Instant Power batteries can also be easier than using throw-away Alkaline batteries that last a far shorter time. (I once went through a DOZEN Alkaline batteries in a little over an hour, while shooting with a Nikon 900 digicam.) Not only did I need to carry enough AA batteries, I had to be constantly disposing of the used batteries or risk mixing identical looking "used" batteries with brand new ones.
Unlike conventional rechargeable batteries that can lose charge while idle, Electric Fuel Instant Power batteries have a three-year shelf life and come fully charged, right out of the package. Other key features of these Instant Power batteries are:
Weigh only six ounces
Feature a built-in belt clip for easy carrying
Have a 36" cord
retail for $14.95 to $24.95, depending on the camera model
Electric Fuel Instant Power batteries are currently available for the following camcorders and digital cameras:
Sony Hi8, Digital8 and mini DV camcorders
most Sony Mavica and Cybershot digicams
Nikon digital cameras
New models will support both the Kodak and Olympus digicams.
E-mail is probably the most popular and most powerful Internet "application" that continues to keep the number of new Internet users climbing. Unfortunately, when you leave your wired home or office, sending or receiving e-mails becomes a problem. Many people are unreachable when they travel to attend high technology trade shows and it is a common phrase to hear, "I'll e-mail you when I return to the office next week". Research In Motion (RIM) has created their BlackBerry technology to help alleviate some of these problems. Their solutions consist of both hardware and services that help you send and receive email from existing email accounts, while away from your "wired world"
There are two basic hardware form factors. The original RIM 950 looks like a "super-pager", while newer models are larger and more PDA-like. Images of both devices are below. Some of the key features of this BlackBerry solution are:
Easy, completely wireless connectivity -- no modem connections or "docking" required
Uses your current e-mail account -- no special "on-the-road" e-mail account
Provides full message control -- send, receive, store, and delete
Automated "push" technology -- messages come to you, instead of logging in to "see" if you have mail
High level of security -- supports an industry standard triple DES
In addition to their e-mail capabilities, these devices can perform an "over the air Calendar Sync". You can get calendar updates "pushed" to you wirelessly -- no more "checking with the office" to see if there are any schedule changes. You can now be wirelessly brought "up-to-date", without lifting a finger to dial a phone or logon to another computer system.
To respond and send new messages, the built-in thumb-touch keyboard is used. While you may frown at this type of keyboard, I have successfully used this keyboard style on my HP handhelds for over a decade. It takes some getting used to, but it is remarkably handy.
Also included is a full-featured, connected organizer with calendar, address book, task list and alarm. And yes, you can synchronize the RIM handheld with a PC.
These RIM devices use 32-bit, Intel 386 processors and weigh about 5 ounces including their battery.
Sony Aibo 3
Terminator comes home
The Sony Aibo3 features a more aggressive look and improved technology over its former siblings.
Ever since I saw the first "Sony dog" at a Sony event in New York, in 1999, I was impressed. At the time, I felt I was seeing the first new product of the 21st century and still feel that way. We are all getting a chance to see the future unfold in front of us and we get to participate in the birth of a new industry - real robots.
Other journalists say "it's only a dog" and I heard one comment that "it won't wash my car". This is true, but technology needs to start somewhere. When the Wright Brothers first flew, there may have been pundits that said that he didn't have the distance or have in-flight movies (which hadn't been invented yet either).
But progress occurred. In less than a century, we can "fly" into outer space and return with the Space Shuttle. The Sony Aibo3 is just like the first airplanes during the dawn of aviation, but you can now buy one.
The PDR-71 is Toshiba's latest digicam and features quality and value. Key features include:
3.2 Megapixel digital sensor MSRP of $499 Canon all-glass aspherical macro zoom lens SmartMedia storage 2.8 optical zoom 2048 x 1536 maximum resolution Multiple exposure control modes Histogram display 100/200/400 ISO Built-in flash USB cabled Runs on 4 AA batteries Lightweight (8.5 ounces)
This latest Toshiba camera packs quite a few sophisticated features, not generally found on sub-$500 digicams. Some of these advanced features are a 5 mode flash system with red-eye reduction and its ability to accept third-part accessory lenses, such as wide angle, telephoto or fish-eye.
The 2.8 times optical zoom of the PDR-71 has a 35-98 mm 35mm equivalent, which is useful for both still images and AVI movie recording.
You can film up to three minutes of video at 160 x 120 at 15 frames per second or 60 seconds of AVI at 320 x 240, also at 15 fps. Sound is recorded using the camera's built-in microphone. White balance can also be adjusted. Videos are played back using a computer monitor, a television (NTSC/PAL) or the PDR-71's 1.5-inch color LCD.
To make the camera easier to use, especially during fast, continuous shooting, Toshiba has used improved digital signal processing (DSP) technology along with adding a logical user interface. Toshiba's goal was to create a "product that you could hand to someone who has never used a digital camera and they likely would not need an instruction guide to operate it". Some of these key ease-of-use features are:
Automatic focus and setting adjustment in fully automatic mode
An easy to use control dial
Zoom that can be changed using either thumb or index finger
Each function of the camera is clearly marked on the control dial with an icon
Shooting modes and options are changed through the LCD menu
For the advanced shooter, the PDR-71 has both shutter and aperture priority automatic exposure, along with a REAL manual mode where you can set both shutter and aperture independently. The histogram feature is usually found only in very high Kodak digital cameras that start at over $5,000. Viewing a histogram display immediately after a picture is taken really helps you to determine if your image is really good or going to surprise you when you view it with Photoshop.
The Toshiba PDR-71 captures images in three different sizes (2048x1536, 1024x768, 640x480) with three different compression percentages (fine, normal, basic).
Looks like this camera will definitely heat up the competition in this $500 price range.
Want to see all this page in a more compact form? View the linked version of this article. It's a smaller download than this page, and each product's information is only a link away.
© 2006 Rick Smith All rights reserved.