DVD, CD and HDTV News
Recordable DVD drives are appearing in the $350 to $500 price range; unfortunately, there are at least three competing standards for DVD writing, none of which are compatible and all of which
require different types of still-expensive media. Unless you‘re determined to be the first on the
block with DVD recording, consider waiting until the standards war shakes out sometime next
year. In CD news, the new Sony Mavica cameras use 3.5“ recordable or rewriteable CDs which
can be used directly on your PC, forgoing the need for cables or media converters to move
images around. And as for HDTV, it will continue to be overpriced technology with little
available programming during 2003.
Computing at Warp Speed
The fastest Intel Pentium 4 processors today run at 2.8 GHz, but by summer, look for Pentium 5 processors to run at 3.2 GHz. Hard drives will continue to get bigger and faster -- 120GB drives are now available for $279 or less. And while rotational speeds today range from 4,200 rpm to 10,000 rpm, drives running at 15,000 rpm should be widely available sometime this year. Flat panel LCD monitors will continue to increase in size and pixel density, while their prices will
continue to drop. And hunt-and-peck typists take note! One of the hottest gadgets right now is
Microsoft‘s tablet-style PC that relies on handwriting and touch screen displays.
It‘s a Wireless World
Wireless devices will become more common in 2003. While computer keyboards and mice have
already become untethered, more personal digital assistants (PDA‘s) and laptop computers will
emerge from the factory with built-in wireless Ethernet. Look for more access points in airports,
businesses, and coffee shops. More devices will also have BlueTooth, a short-range wireless
standard that allows not only your cell phone to talk to your handheld computer, but also your
handheld to talk to your desktop computer. Also, more handheld computers will be able to
communicate on cellular networks, allowing them to work as cell phones and wireless Internet
devices. Early hybrid devices all have some shortcomings, but competition will be fierce and the
products and service offerings should get rapidly better.
Satellite services will continue to mature during 2003. There are now two competitors for
satellite-based car radios, and most car manufacturers will begin offering satellite radio as an
option. Satellite Internet has also been available for a couple of years, but service providers have
not yet been able to deliver the advertised performance yet.
Handhelds Everything and the Kitchen Sink
Handheld devices like PDA‘s and music players will pack more features into the same space.
Small, low-powered microprocessors like the XScale from Intel will empower more multimedia
while maintaining long battery life, and memory prices will continue to fall as the volumes ramp
up for even more digital devices like cameras and video recorders. These devices will require
better battery technology; some companies are even working on miniature fuel cells powered by
methanol or other hydrogen-rich liquids. Commercial products should be ready by the end of
Better Living Through Fuel Cells
All of the major car manufacturers have been working on cars with fuel cells (devices that
combine hydrogen and oxygen to form electricity) for more than ten years. The first consumer-
ready cars will be tested by Toyota in the U.S. during 2003; Ford, GM, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes
Benz, and others have advanced prototypes that will likely undergo field testing this year.
Here‘s a peek at the latest and greatest gadgets for 2003.
Fujitsu‘s Stylistic ST4000 Tablet PC, one of the first of Microsoft‘s new Windows XP Tablet PC-
powered machines, is a Pentium III PC that uses a digital pen and touch screen to jot notes, send
email and surf the Web. You can also plug it into a dock and keyboard. (From $2199,
Store Your Music And Your Files
With a nod to the Apple iPod, e.Digital‘s sleek Odyssey 1000 MP3 player boasts a whopping
20GB drive (4,000-plus songs) and FM tuner. It also doubles as a portable storage unit for your
PC files. Coolest feature: voice recognition for easy navigation through your music ($400,
Stay on Track
Timex‘s Ironman Speed + Distance System features a water-resistant watch and a GPS receiver to keep track of your travel distance, speed and pace data ($200, www.timex.com).
Get Organized & Stay Connected
Samsung‘s SPH-1330 features a Palm PDA with 16MB of memory, access to the Web, a 256-
color touch screen that supports full HTML pages, a speakerphone, polyphonic ring tones and
voice-activated dialing ($500, www.samsungusa.com).
More Than a Mobile Phone
When is a mobile phone not a mobile phone? When it can browse the Web in color, take pictures
and email them to your friends, store your favorite songs and even use them as a phone ringer. A few models to check out: the Microsoft Windows Powered Pocket PC Phone Edition from T-
Mobile ($500, www.t-mobile.com); Motorola‘s clam-shaped T720 ($250, www.motorola.com),
T-Mobile‘s Sidekick ($200); and Samsung‘s SPH-a500 ($70, www.samsungusa.com).
Yes, the hard-disk-equipped iPods are the most technolust-inducing MP3 players on the market,
but there‘s still a place for memory-based devices. A few to check out:
- psa[128max ($200) boasts quality sound and includes a Velcro armband rig.
- CenDyne Gruvstick ($179) is about the size of a pocketknife and includes a backlit LCD screen
to display song info, plus voice recording using a built-in mike.
- Timex TMX2 MP3 System ($150) is Timex‘s attempt at a combo watch/MP3 player. The 64
MB module can be snapped into a wristband, worn around the neck or clipped to a belt loop;
however, it requires external power from a AAA battery housed in a separate corded remote.
- the MadPlayer MP-5-US ($299) includes MP3 playback and FM radio. Each track can be
tweaked by adjusting filters, frequencies, beats and more. You can even add your own voice with
the included headphone/mike.
- PoGo! RipFlash PLUS 128 MB ($198). In addition to playing MP3 and WMA files, you can
record music directly to MP3 via the line-in jack or use the built-in mike to record more than 30
hours of speech.
- The Lifestream Cholesterol Monitor ($130, www.lifestreamtech.com) gives you a total
cholesterol reading in 3 minutes.
- InterCure‘s RESPeRATE ($300, www.resperate.com) uses “device-guided breathing“
technology to lower blood pressure. Users listen to a melody and synchronize their breathing to
the tones until they reach the “therapeutic zone“ of less than 10 breaths per minute.
- TheraSense‘s FreeStyle Tracker System combines a glucose meter, diabetes data manager, and
PDA. Reportedly uses the world‘s smallest blood sample, making testing less painful. About
$225 with PDA; $110 without PDA (www.therasense.com).