Tech Nous: A Digital (Tom) Cruise

At recent press conference for the film The Last Samurai I suddenlyrealised just how digital photography has come of age. Few, if any, of the assembled paparazzi were not equipped with one of the new mega-pixel marvels. This technology makes taking pictures of mega-stars very easy. You simply review your shots right after you’ve taken them – dump the duds and keep the best.

Although the digital camera I was equipped with that day was of average (2.1mp) performance, the quality of the pictures it produced surprised me. Tom Cruise was captured in all his real life glory.

Mustek’s tiny gSmart LCD2 might have been out-gunned by its gruntier digital cousins that day, but let’s face it, this 62 gram featherweight, which is not much bigger than business card, is definitely not aimed at the professional photographer market. The fact that it is quick and simple to operate, has USB plug-and-play, and doubles as web camera, makes it ideal for the home market. And the nice thing about 2.1mp camera is that the picture files aren’t too large to be sent via dial-up modem. Obviously the greater the picture resolution, the longer it takes to email the picture – unless you drop the resolution.

Over the summer holiday break the press and product releases pile-up on my desk. But they provide an interesting fore-taste of the technology that will emerge this year. For example, Apple has unveiled the PowerBook G4 – the world’s first notebook computer with 17-inch display, and body that is mere one-inch thin!

As well as stunning wireless capability, the notebook also features the world’s first fibre-optic backlit keyboard, and ambient light sensors that control the brightness of the display and automatically regulate the keyboard backlighting. No more straining the eyes to read the screen on bright sunny day (a feature that should be standard on the LCD screen of digital cameras).

Toshiba too has been busy overhauling its notebook range, and its high-end Satellite 5200 model now features DVD burning on the move, as well as remote control, Harmon/Kardon stereo speakers, nVidia and cPad screen inside touch pad – everything the demanding multimedia professional requires.

Meanwhile, if you’re sticking to your desktop PC, Logitech has introduced new generation of combination cordless mice and keyboards. These flexless combos are great for eliminating the cord clutter on your desk. I’ve trialed Microsoft’s Wireless Optical Desktop combination, and despite the occasional inconvenience of changing batteries, it is absolutely brilliant.

This will be another intensely competitive year for the projector industry, with models simultaneously targeting the home and business markets. Mitsubishi’s new XD300U ColourView DLP projector is one of the more recent arrivals and, according to the blurb, its image reproduction will apparently satisfy even the most avid movie buffs. With 2100 ANSI lumens and powerful 2000:1 contrast ratio, it reproduces DVD images remarkably well. lamp life of up to 4000 hours is also good news, making this projector ideal for business presentations, which, I figure, helps to justify the $9000 price-tag.

Glenn Baker is regular contributor to Management. Email: [email protected]

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