Gotta have it!

May 1, 2003
We've settled nicely into 2003 and tax season is behind us. Now it's time to look at some new, must-have tech toys.

Paul Feuerstein, DMD

We've settled nicely into 2003 and tax season is behind us. Now it's time to look at some new, must-have tech toys.

Sony's new Clie NZ90V PDA is a model worth scrutinizing, even if you already own a great PDA. This nifty unit, which will set you back a mere $800, has a built-in digital camera, an mp3 player, and a built in mini keyboard. It even doubles as a remote control for your audio and video products.

If a Pocket PC is your preference, but you balk at their hefty price tag, take a look at Dell's Axim X5. This swift unit has clobbered the Pocket PC marketplace with its low cost and advanced function. The basic unit (32MB) is $200, and the advanced unit (64 MB) is $300. Of course, if you are old enough to remember Dick Tracy, you might want the new Fossil Wrist PDA.

In other news: Palm has had to drop the word "graffiti" from its operating system due to a patent infringement lawsuit. It will be replaced by "jot" (called graffitti2), which some say is more intuitive. Since most new handhelds are migrating to mini- keyboards, this may not be a major issue.

If you handwrite a lot of memos, Logitech has come up with the IO digital pen. Using this device, you write on special paper and the pen "remembers" what you have written. You can download the pages to your computer and file them for retrieval. This is a must-have for those of us who write little memos all day, then stuff them our pockets and forget about them. Get more info from logitech.com.

Speaking of PDAs, if you have learned to fully utilize them by listening to the likes of Dr. John Flucke, take a look at the next level. The Tiquit 83 is slightly larger than a Palm unit, but it is an actual computer. A four-inch screen, 640x480, full keyboard (thumbsize), a 300MHz CPU, 256 MB of RAM, and a 20 GB hard drive are all loaded into this unit. The screen also acts as a touchscreen, performing many Palm-like functions.

Speaking of new computers, be careful of the latest models. Many are being built without familiar ports. Parallel, serial, and PS2 are being left off in favor of USB2 and firewire. Some also add WiFi and bluetooth (protocols that have been discussed here in previous columns). The newest wireless protocol has hit the marketplace- 802.11G. It is five times faster then the current 802.11B and is backwards compatible. The problem at press time is that the specifications were not finalized, even though a few companies already have put the products into the marketplace.

A new device from Hewlett Packard, the EN5000 Digital Media Receiver, may solve some of your office or home entertainment problems. This unit will play music and video files from your computers and wirelessly (or hard wired if you prefer) transmit them to your stereo and TV. According to HP, " The Digital Media Receiver discovers and aggregates all digital music and photos from one or multiple PCs on a home network and presents them in an easy-to-use TV menu. Additionally, multiple HP Digital Media Receivers can be connected to the home network so music and photos can be enjoyed throughout the home, simultaneously accessing digital files — including, if so desired, the exact same song or picture. In fact, the multiple devices can be controlled from each other to create a full-house listening experience." Other companies such as Pioneer (DL 100 and DL 500), Samsung (Home Media Center), and Prismiq (Media Player) are entering the computer-to-home-media center market. Units like these, along with Internet music stations, are changing office sound systems. Soon "dental office music" will be a complementary term.

Finally, Google has introduced a new search engine called Froogle. Enter a product name in the search box, and Froogle will give you a list of retailers who sell it. (A search for "PDAs and handhelds" netted 1,629 results!) It presently will not perform price comparisons like MySimon, but the company is planning to add this feature eventually.

There are plenty more ways for you to increase your spending and cut your profits. Just keep it tuned here.

Dr. Paul Feuerstein installed one of dentistry's first computers when he placed a system in his office in 1978, and he has been fascinated by technology ever since. For more than 20 years, he has taught courses on technology throughout the country. He is a mainstay at technology sessions in New England, including annual appearances at the Yankee.Dental Congress, and has been a part of the ADA's Technology Day since its inception. A general practitioner in North Billerica, Mass., since 1973, Dr. Feuerstein maintains a Web site (www.computersinden tistry.com) and can be reached by email at [email protected].

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