- The Washington Times - Monday, September 18, 2000

PASADENA, Calif.

The recent Demo Mobile conference offered a wide range of products and possibilities for mobile technology users. Sponsored by the IDG Executive Forums, which publishes the industry insider newsletter "Demo" (www.demo.com) and hosted by newsletter editors Chris Shipley and Jim Forbes, the event offered plenty of hardware and accessories to pique a user's interest.
IBM Corp.'s Personal Systems Group (www.ibm.com/thinkpad) said it will ship what it claims is "the industry's first Intel-based notebook computers with integrated wireless LAN capabilities" in the fourth quarter of this year. Dubbed the ThinkPad I series, the models, starting at $1,149, will include a built-in wireless antenna and 802.11b-standard transmitter. The units will also work with IBM's new Bluetooth PC Cards, due in October. (Spearheaded by Intel Corp., the Bluetooth standard allows devices such as computers, keyboards, telephones and printers to spontaneously communicate with each other at a 2.5-GHz frequency over a limited distance.)
Ronald P. Sperano, a program director for IBM, said the new ThinkPads are aimed at the educational market, to provide "an inexpensive, all in one" device for students. Business-class models with built-in wireless capabilities should arrive "in the second half of next year [2001], maybe a bit sooner," he said.
Next year will also see IBM release a Bluetooth card for the "ultra-port" connector that sits atop its laptop's display screen. In the second half of 2001, Mr. Sperano said, IBM expects to release a miniature 802.11b device for the ultra-port slot.
Inviso Corp., Sunnyvale, Calif., showed off its "eShades," a sunglass-appearing device which connects to a VGA-out port on a notebook or desktop computer and "gives you the visual equivalent of a 19-inch desktop monitor at 2.5 feet" at a resolution of 800-by600 dpi, said Steve Timmerman, sales and marketing vice president for the firm. The device, due later this year and expected to sell for "around $600," can help stretch battery life on portables, since its power consumption is "less than half" that of a laptop display screen. In addition, the "eShades" offer greater privacy when working on an airplane or in another public area.
I tried on a pair of the eShades and while it might take just a bit of getting used to, I could easily see the value here. Having more privacy while working, not to mention avoiding the vagaries of airplane (or conference room) lighting makes a great deal of sense. More details on this product can be found at www.inviso.com.

Handheld PC

Acknowledging an "underdog" status that might make even George W. Bush nervous, Microsoft Corp. used the event to announce another revision of its Handheld Personal Computer, or H/PC, version of the Windows CE operating system. This is designed for machines slightly larger than a palm-sized Pocket PC, but not necessarily "notebook replacement" devices.
According to Phil Holden, director of product marketing for mobile devices at the firm, Microsoft Windows for Handheld PC 2000 software includes pocket-sized versions of Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, the latter not found on Pocket PC systems. The firm also is launching an Internet Explorer 4.0-compatible browser that supports HTML 4.0, XML and XSL, DHTML, Jscript development software and GIF animation, frames, cookies, SSL, and certificates.
Also new in the H/PC software platform is an integrated client for Windows 2000 Terminal Services to give users access to their full-function desktop applications over wired and wireless connections, which Mr. Holden said has attracted interest from many vertical markets, including government users.
The only maker to announce a machine with the new H/PC operating software was Hewlett Packard, which showed off its new, $999 HP Jornada 720 Handheld PC combines the portable form factor, rich-color VGA display, and keyboard of the HP Jornada 690 Handheld PC with a faster 206MHz Intel Corp. StrongARM processor, a 51MHz memory data bus, and 2-D graphics acceleration. The device is aimed at vertical markets, including sales-force automation, health care and insurance, HP said in a statement.
In other Microsoft-related news, Mr. Holden demonstrated a "smart phone" based on H/PC software, which he said manufacturers could offer sometime in 2001. He offered no details on prices or configurations, other than to say the device can easily hold a contact list of 1,100 names and related phone numbers, and would synchronize with the firm's popular Outlook personal information manager.

Wireless camera

One of the neatest products to draw applause at the show was a prototype 1-megapixel camera that can attach to a wireless phone for image transmission. Developed by LightSurf Technologies, Inc., Santa Cruz, Calif., and fronted by industry veteran Philippe Kahn, the product wowed a good chunk of the audience here.
Mr. Kahn appeared on stage holding a next generation, ultra-portable wireless phone attached to the world's smallest digital camera, designed by LightSurf. He then snapped a digital photo and transmitted the image to a Web site in a matter of seconds. Operating without cables or wires, the tightly integrated camera and phone captured, previewed and sent the image to the Internet.
Such a device, which Mr. Kahn told me could sell for around $500 when released next year, would be a boon for everyone from photojournalists to real estate agents to disaster workers, and others who need to transmit visual information quickly. Details about the firm can be found at www.lightsurf.com.
And Silicon Valley start-up ecrio, Inc., was another crowd pleaser with its ecrio Rich Instant Messaging Platform, software that enables users to instantly send freeform handwritten notes, images, drawings, animation, voice, video, and text to and from any Internet-enabled wireless or desktop appliance. Described as being "client-agnostic," the ecrio product was demonstrated on several Palm OS devices, and is also functional for PocketPC and Symbian EPOC operating systems, the firm said. Messages can be shared on Internet-enabled mobile phones, PC systems as well as other Internet appliances and information devices. It's cool stuff, about which more can be found at www.ecrio.com.
Write to Mark Kellner in care of The Washington Times, Business Desk, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; e-mail [email protected], or visit the writer's Web page, www.markkellner.com.


LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide