Tech Nous: Hooked On Wireless

I have written about wireless technology many times in the past 12 months, but it was only recently that I was able to experience it first hand on my desktop.

Microsoft sent me one of its new wireless optical desktops to test-drive (a desktop is keyboard/mouse combination), and I am now firmly hooked on wireless.

My desk is fairly cluttered at the best of times, so it was good to eliminate both keyboard cable and mouse cord from the scene.

I almost liken the transition from my cheap entry-level keyboard and optical mouse, to the switch from my old manual typewriter to an electric model that I made in the early 1970s. Everything is much smoother and quieter, and more functional.

Microsoft produces the desktop in two versions, the Wireless Optical and the Wireless Optical Pro (that’s standard or ergonomic configuration). Installation was easy thanks to USB connection for the receiver, and the keyboard features digital media centre; large, customisable hot keys (clearly labelled); enhanced F keys, which save time; and racy charcoal and silver design.

The mouse uses Microsoft’s winning optical technology and is designed for either hand. The whole wireless set-up works within two metres of the receiver.

Also hot off Microsoft’s prolific designing board is the Notebook Optical Mouse, which has footprint no larger than credit card, and is suitable for laptop users who prefer mouse but often work in cramped conditions.

You might want to check out an e-Book entitled Unleashing the Road Warrior. It is written by self-confessed wireless data evangelist Luigi Cappel. His book, which can be downloaded from www.smartphoneacademy.co.nz, presents many practical ideas designed to help people work smarter rather than harder through the use of their PDA.

Cappel meets an increasing number of people who have purchased handheld PCs but fail to realise the benefits and productivity gains they expected. The book provides tips on how to maximise dead time (lost minutes spent commuting or between appointments). There is also step-by-step explanation on how to set up folders in Outlook. “The majority of business people I meet are only as computer literate as they are forced to be,” says Cappel. “It is common to find people, especially senior managers, with 700 messages in their inbox when they first synchronise their PDAs. It’s little wonder that they don’t see the value in trying to manage their email out in the field. Once they have the housekeeping sorted, it is very different proposition.”

Still on the subject of PDAs, new technology for 2003 includes the Denalim TV/FM receiver expansion pack for your iPAQ Pocket PC. It can put the best America’s Cup vantage point in the palm of your hand! From Palm comes the Zire, an entry level handheld that sells for around $299 plus GST, and the Tungsten T for power users. The latter has 16Mb of RAM onboard with the standard SD slot, and has enough grunt to run 320×320 pixel colour screen.

The Qtek is another recent entry to the handheld market, and combines mobile phone and Pocket PC, set up on Vodafone’s GPRS network. Other hot new products to watch for in 2003 include the InFocus ScreenPlay 7200 high definition home cinema projector, which delivers incredible picture quality but very little change from $20,000. It will be interesting to see the take-up of the Tablet PC in 2003 – is it what the doctor ordered? And look out for Canon’s imageCLASS MPC200 – billed as “the world’s smallest multifunction device”.

Get ready for steady stream of new portable photo printers too, as the digital camera market continues to explode. It’s already shaping up to be busy year for marketers and buyers alike.

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

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