Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : November 2005

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 TECHNOLOGY TALK:

BY JOHN ANDERSON  

"The Coolest Gadgets of 2005"
By John Anderson

PSP
PSP

Samsung Plasma
Samsung Plasma

Harmony 880
Harmony 880

Seagate DVR Drive
Seagate DVR Drive

Sanyo Xacti
Sanyo Xacti

Apple iPod
Apple iPod

PalmOne Treo 650
PalmOne Treo 650

Wireless Earpiece
Wireless Earpiece

Dual Core Processor
Dual Core Processor

Mini USB Drive
Mini USB Drive

As we approach the end of the year we begin to reflect on our decisions, our choices and take account of what we did right and where we went wrong over the past year. Of course, I’m talking about our gadgets.

Thanks to huge advertising campaigns, we can easily predict some of the new gadgets coming out that we never knew we could live without. Others are little more than rumor and wishful thinking. By this time next year, our electronics environment will have surely changed dramatically. But until then, let’s look back at some new technologies that came out this year.

PlayStation Portable. The Sony PlayStation Portable is the gadget of 2005. If you haven’t gotten one already, you must not have seen one in action. The screen alone is so much more than what you would expect from a portable. And it isn’t just for gamers stuck in the back seat on a long car ride to Aunt Martha’s house; it plays music and movies, too. It also has outstanding sound and graphics, a built-in Memory Stick Duo slot, and Wi-Fi. Fun for all ages, trust me.

Ridiculously Large Plasma TVs. Sets weighing in at 71 inches burst onto the TV scene this year. And Samsung followed that almost immediately with their 102 inch set. At 8.5 feet diagonally, it is about a foot-and-a-half more than the height of Shaquille O’Neal. But if you decided you didn’t want to build that new addition onto your home just to contain your new TV, there are many more moderately-sized models out there.

Logitech Harmony 880. Now that you have your ultimate TV on layaway, let’s tackle that pile of remote controls scattered around the coffee table. Logitech’s universal Harmony 880 TV remote uses Web-programmable settings to ease the process of consolidating all of your clickers. It has a color LCD screen, a rechargeable battery and tips the scales at $250. It might seem a bit excessive, but you wouldn’t want some puny remote sitting next to your widescreen TV, would you?

Digital Video Recorders. DVR’s have seen a huge growth this year. Not only are they so much easier to set up and program than their VCR counterparts, but you don’t have to deal with handling all of the video tapes, labels and worrying about accidentally taping over your wedding video. This year, hard drive manufacturer Seagate started selling a huge 400GB drive delivering up to 400 hours of standard television to DVR users. It also gives the type of storage needed for HDTV.

Sanyo’s Pocket Camcorder. Now with a 6MP makeover, improved video quality, and skinnier than a supermodel, Sanyo’s successor to its C5 pint-sized palmcorder is much like its older brother, with a pistol grip design and LCD that folds out to the side.

The new Xacti now incorporates a decent 6MP camera and a better frame rate. The result is smoother, better-quality video footage from a camcorder that still fits easily in your pocket. The C6’s image stabilizer and close-ups using the 60x zoom are better than most compact camcorders.

iPods. First, they played songs. Then they stored photos. Then came podcast, and now they play video. They come in 30GB and 60GB flavors and start at $299. The iPod can hold up to 20,000 songs, thousands of photos and album art and 150 hours of video. They also come in Nano and Shuffle varieties.

PalmOne Treo 650. This little doozie has managed to cause many of us to leave our laptops at home. Just about the ultimate convergent device, it bundles about every conceivable tool into one handheld device, including phone, PDA, e-mail, camera, wireless Bluetooth, MP3 player.

Wireless Earpieces. The newest fashion accessories this year are stylish earpieces. Bluetooth wireless devices are nearly a standard feature in cell phones. The earpieces themselves contain many of the same functions as the phones themselves, with their own ring-tones, LCD display, vibrate mode, a jog dial and buttons to accept or deny incoming calls. In other words, with one of these, you don’t ever need to remove your phone from your hip.

Dual-Core Processors. Both Intel and AMD plan to release an entirely new type of chip for home computers. In the good old days, we could pretty much be assured that the faster your chip ran, the better it was. But while it’s easy to run them faster, keeping them cool isn’t. The solution doesn’t depend on a faster chip; instead, two chips in the same computer run separate applications. A dual-core chip is one chip that operates as two – requiring less power, producing less heat and handling more at the same time. Not something you can put on your shelf and show off to your friends, but definitely a cool gadget.

Mini USB Memory Cards. USB memory cards are by far one of my favorite gadgets this year, and it isn’t just because they have the most reasonable price tag. Having a pocket-sized hard drive in my pocket has saved me on more than on occasion. USB flash drives have come from small-capacity devices to new units able to store from 1GB to more than 4GB of memory. The snazzier models have thumbprint security and build in MP3 players.

With all of the cool gadgets that came out this year, I can’t wait to see what comes out next year.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: November 2005

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