- The Washington Times - Monday, April 9, 2007

It’s not always the “big” thing in technology that is worth noting. Large keyboards and larger displays aside, sometimes it is the small item that makes a mark.

For example, take the Nokia 5300 Xpress Music phone. It’s $99 via T-Mobile, and it’s a neat little package.

The phone pairs a slide-open design with dedicated music keys, a bright 2-inch color screen and a built-in 1.3 megapixel camera. With its included 1 gigabyte MicroSD card, this device can store up to 750 songs in what’s called the eAAC+ format, or 240 songs in copy-protected Windows Media Audio format.

The device can even play music wirelessly using stereo Bluetooth technology. That means that owners can enjoy the cord-free convenience of wireless headphones, or even stream music wirelessly to their home or car-stereo system.

I was sent one of these to test, and it’s a rather impressive item. Though small, you don’t feel as if you are going to lose the 5300, and it has a nice, substantial feel to it. Phone quality is good, camera quality is excellent, and the music player is a nice bonus, though less attractive to this Apple Inc. IPod user than it might be to some.

Particularly impressive, by the way, was the ease with which one could enter address book listings of name, phone number and the like. Pairing the address book with the built-in camera, of course, makes creating a visual listing of friends all the easier.

This isn’t a high-powered business mobile phone, but one may not always need such. The Nokia 5300 Xpress Music phone is a nice little device that does its job well.

At a list price of $120, the Microsoft Mobility Pack might have everything a road warrior mayneed: an external mouse with wireless transmitter and a clip-on video camera offering 2.0-megapixel video.

I like the mouse, which operates on just one AA battery, features a four-way scroll button and also has a zoom button. The Web cam also takes still pictures at an interpolated rate of 7.6 megapixels, which isn’t too shabby.

My only complaint is actually a statement of reality. These items work under Microsoft’s Windows operating system; the mouse might support some Macintosh OS X functions, but probably not all, and I doubt the camera would work seamlessly in the current Mac OS version. Thus, this is great for Windows users, which of course is a primary market for Microsoft hardware.

One other point to consider: Many of today’s laptops are coming along with built-in cameras, so the Mobility Pack might be better for 2006 vintage and earlier machines. The rest of us could just buy the mouse and be happy.

And, if you are rushing to complete your income taxes, check out H&R; Block TaxCut Premium Federal + State 2006, $40 and delivered on a Kingston Technology 356-megabyte USB Flash Drive. Stick the drive in a USB port, double click on the install screen, and you are on your way.

This is such a great idea that I wonder why more firms don’t do this. The flash drive is tiny, portable and has storage space to boot. Presumably, one could save a copy of the tax return to the drive, and store the whole thing in a file drawer, although a hard-copy duplicate would probably be a good idea. I like the concept, although this product, too, is Windows only.

Read Mark Kellner’s Tech Blog at www.washingtontimes.com/blogs.

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