- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2006

I do three things every workday: I get up, I go to work, and at the office, I get on the phone. Three new technology products make those tasks easier for me.

Before going to sleep, I put on the $149 Sleeptracker watch (www.sleeptracker.com), which will track my “almost awake” moments each night. Last night wasn’t too good — an average of 29 minutes and 55 seconds passed between each of those for me. It only tracks the “almost awake” moments, the firm claims, and can tell when there’s actual movement, such as arising to go to the bathroom.

On the other hand, the watch can somehow sense my best wakeup time within 30 minutes prior to the time when I’ve set the Sleeptracker’s alarm. When I did arise at the watch’s urging, I felt better.

It would be nice if the watch had greater memory to store more than one day’s readings, or if there were a way to wirelessly transfer the data to a software program to a computer, say via Bluetooth. Computer software to track the data would also be a plus. But for now, this is a neat device worth investigating.

On the way to work, the need for a hands-free cell-phone headset fits with the increasing trend toward legislation requiring their use. The District of Columbia has done this for a few years; California will require it in 2008.

Over the past couple of years, the trend has been toward smaller and lighter Bluetooth headsets. The Jabra JX10 (www.jabra.com) may be one of the smallest and lightest of the lot. Jacob Jensen, a leading Danish design firm, created the device’s design and it shows.

This is a tiny marvel. Wearing it, one hardly knows that it’s there, until you have to make or receive a call. There’s digital signal processing circuitry to knock out the background sounds, and noise cancellation technology to make what you say clearer. A single battery charge yields as much as six hours of talk time.

There’s a price to be paid for all of this, and it’s just under $180, which is six times — or more — the cost of a wired headset for mobile phones. But if you are running around, especially in areas where the law dictates, it could be the best money you’ve spent in a while.

At the office, the GN 9350 headset, made by GN Netcom, Jabra’s parent firm (www.gnnetcom.com/US/EN/), could be one of the most versatile phone products since the arrival of the touch-tone phone more than forty years ago. The 9350 — retail price $300 — will connect to both your desktop phone and a Windows-based PC for what’s called “IP telephony,” or calls made via the Internet using services such as Skype.

Sound quality for the headset is excellent, something very nice when talking on the phone. and it allows a worker to type or write or do something while speaking.

The notion of switching between dial-up and IP telephony is a neat one, and worth the price premium this headset commands. I do wish, however, that its makers would do whatever is necessary to make this work with a Macintosh system, because there are a number of Mac users out there and the number is growing.

But if you straddle both worlds, this is a device to get. It will serve you well, it’s easy to set up and when using it, you will wonder how you ever got along without one.

• Read Mark Kellner’s Technology blog, updated daily on The Washington Times’ Web site, at https://www.washingtontimes.com/blogs.


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