December 2005

Imation 4GB USB drive
Imation announced a new 4GB version of its Micro Hard Drive with a unique padlock design that can be used to clip the storage device to a belt loop or keychain. It uses the Toshiba 0.85-inch hard disk drive--smaller than the size of a quarter--and is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. For reliability and file security, the Imation Micro Hard Drive offers magnetic data encoding and error correction, 128-bit encryption, and file synchronization that automatically creates a backup copy of your data. The drive is shock resistant up to 1000 Gs. MSRP is US$189. -- Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2005 by chb

GIGABYTE Pocket PC Phone includes TV, 2.1mp camera
Taiwan's Gigabyte Communications unveiled the g-Smart Pocket PC Phone that includes some impressive features. The very compact device (4.35 x 2.1 x 0.95, 5.5 ounces) sports a 416 MHz PXA272 CPU, 64MB RAM, 64MB ROM, 801.11b WiFi, Bluetooth, a Mini SD card slot (a 256MB card comes with it), and a small 2.4-inch TFT display with 240 x 320 pixel and 262k color, and runs Windows Mobile 5.0 for Pocket PC. Now for the interesting part: the g-Smart, which is a GSM/GPRS phone, also has a 2.1 megapixel digital camera, an FM radio receiver, analog TV, and a navigation system. No information on availability outside of Taiwan. Our take:Another tour-de-force device that we may or may not see stateside. It's also an example of the "everything-and-the-kitchen-sink" approach manufacturers take in trying to figure out what, exactly, consumers want in a convergent device. -- Posted Tuesday, December 27, 2005 by chb

Say bye to Pentium "M" reports that the Pentium "M" designation we've come to know (though not necessarily love) will be replaced in the upcoming "Yonah" processor with "Duo" and "Solo," where one signifies a dual core and the other a single core processor. "Pentium" will live on for a while in desktop chips, but likely fade as well with the next generation of dual-core desktop chips late in 2006. Our take: the new designations will, of course, make figuring out what a processor is and what it can do even more difficult. The term "Pentium" was invented by Intel so they didn't have to call their 486-class successor a 586, something which every competitor could use as well. So "Pentium" was born, and thus the start of trademarkable processor names. That strategy paid off for Intel, and the use of a chip's speed as part of the processor name as well. That way, you really had to upgrade or ditch your old Pentium 133 when a Pentium 200 came along, and replace all Pentium IIs when Pentium IIIs appeared, and then IV. Eventually Intel chose to replace speed ratings with another numeric scheme that seemed devoid of all logic (as a result, speed is now usually supplied in parenthesis). Overall, whatever Intel did paid off handsomely. Whereas the 4.77 MHz Intel 8088 in the original IBM PC cost under five dollars, new Intel processors now cost many hundreds of dollars, the fastest more than whole economy computers. So while consumer have less and less of a clue what they buy, they'll take Intel's mighty marketing word for it that buy they must. Duo is certainly better than Solo, so let's spend the extra money. -- Posted Thursday, December 22, 2005 by chb

Palm reports increased growth, good earnings
Palm reported revenues of US$445 million for Q2 2006, up 18% from Q2 2005. Net income was a stellar US$261 million, but that included "a partial reversal of a deferred tax asset valuation allowance." Without that, it was $24.4 million, comparable to Q2 last year, and very good. According to CEO Ed Colligan, Palm shipped a million Treos in the first half of fiscal 2006, almost as many as during all of 2005. Considering that Palm will soon release the Windows Mobile-based Treo 700w and will announce another three smartphones in 2006, there's significant reason for optimism. -- Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2005 by chb

Another one bites the dust -- Seagate buys Maxtor
Industry leading disk drive maker Seagate is buying rival Maxtor in a stock transaction. Despite disk drives being used everywhere, from every computer to game consoles to digital music players, the disk drive business seems a tough one. Seagate has annual revenues of less than US$8 billion, Maxtor less than half that. Those are decent numbers, but peanauts compared to the likes of Microsoft or the relative importance of the disk drive industry, which seems to be in a state of perennial distress. Anyone remember CMI, Microscience, Micropolis, Rodime, Quantum, Conner, or Miniscribe? Or for that matter IBM (which sold its drive division to Hitachi) or Fujitsu (left consumer markets years ago). With Seagate's acquisition of Maxtor, we're essentially left with Seagate, Western Digital, Toshiba, Hitachi and, of course, Samsung, which makes everything. Let's hope this was a good move. [read Seagate release] -- Posted Wednesday, December 21, 2005 by chb

Windows Mobile and Windows XP in the same device
It's become somewhat of a Holy Grail of mobile computing: how does one get all of Windows into a device small enough to carry in your pocket, yet with enough battery life to also use it as a PDA and smartphone? The OQO (see our OQO review) took a respectable crack at it, but it's not a phone. CNET now reports of DualCor Technologies' impending release of the cPC, a little box that combines full XP with Windows Mobile 5.0. Supposedly a 6.5 x 3.3 x 1.2 little thing with a 5-inch screen, the cPC uses a super-low-power 1.5GHz Via chip, a gig of RAM and a 40GB disk to run Windows XP (the Tablet PC Edition no less, despite a lack of an active digitizer) for a respectable 3-4 hours. The cell phone side of the cPC uses Windows Mobile 5.0, shares the disk but has its own 128MB of DRAM, a gig of flash and a PXA chip, and can truck along for 8-12 hours in that mode. Sounds a lot like a Hybrid car, doesn't it? The DualCor website doesn't have any info yet, so we'll have to wait and see. [see CNET report] [see patent app] -- Posted Friday, December 16, 2005 by chb

NY Times interviews Palm CEO Colligan
In an extended interview with the New York Times, Palm CEO Ed Colligan talks about the recent RIM turmoil, Palm's decision to team up with Microsoft ("When we first kind of signed the deal or whatever it blew our minds a little bit as you say."), and the general future of Palm and the handheld market. [read Colligan interview]

-- Posted Thursday, December 15, 2005 by chb

HP beefs up tc4200 Tablet PC convertible
Customers can now order the HP Compaq Tablet PC tc4200 with a 2GHz Intel M 760 processor, an 80GB drive and, most importantly, an outdoor-viewable version of the awesome BOE Hydis wide viewing angle display. [see HP news and offer] -- Posted Thursday, December 15, 2005 by chb

Zagat now on BlackBerry
Zagat Survey, in partnership with Handmark announced the launch of ZAGAT TO GO, a mobile version of Zagat Survey's restaurant and nightlife guides made exclusively for BlackBerry users. In addition to comprehensive ratings and rankings for 24,000 spots in 71 different cities, ZAGAT TO GO offers a variety of BlackBerry optimized features including wireless content updates, detailed street-level maps, and turn-by-turn driving directions to desired destinations. -- Posted Tuesday, December 13, 2005 by chb

Oracle integrates with Broadbeam to offer expanded mobile enterprise capabilities
Mission-critical mobile solutions expert Broadbeam Corporation is teaming up with Oracle to extend the mobile enterprise via integration of Oracle Lite 10g Release 2 with Broadbeam's MSS ExpressQ, helping deliver a complete and integrated solution for developing and deploying vital database applications for mobile and embedded environments, including laptops and PDAs that do not feature built-in SMS or proprietary message listener capabilities. Users at the corporate site can retrieve mobile device and software information, synchronize with and delete mobile applications, send updates for download, etc., any time, regardless of available network coverage or connections. "Broadbeam's solutions have become a critical tool for today's businesses, as the enterprise quickly becomes 'the mobile enterprise,'" said Janet Boudris, CEO of Broadbeam, an old and exceedingly competent friend of ours from her days at BellSouth Wireless. -- Posted Tuesday, December 13, 2005 by chb

EDGE releases 8GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive
Where will it stop? EDGE Tech Corp, a supplier of DRAM and flash memory upgrades, portable computing products, storage devices, and other personal technology solutions announced the latest USB flash drive addition to their DiskGO! line -- an 8GB DiskGO! USB 2.0 Flash Drive! The unit costs $599 and will be sold to the channel and from the company's Web site. -- Posted Tuesday, December 13, 2005 by chb

Microsoft aiming for less expensive Smartphones
DigiTimes reports: "Microsoft plans to team up with Taiwan ODM handset makers and own-brand handset vendors to manufacture sub-US$300 PDA phones in a bid to help the company expand its share of the global OS (operating system) market for mobile devices, according to sources at Taiwan makers and vendors.

Microsoft has already exchanged ideas about the potential project with its major partners in Taiwan, including High Tech Computer (HTC), Quanta Computer, Asustek Computer, Acer, Mitac International, and BenQ, the sources noted.

Most Taiwan makers generally support Microsoft’s plan to optimize its mobile operating system, but they said there still is a long way to go before the software vendor and local handset makers can jointly bring down overall production costs for PDA phones."
-- Posted Friday, December 9, 2005 by chb

New StayinFront CRM 9.3 optimized for Tablet PCs
StayinFront, a global provider of enterprise-wide customer relationship management (CRM) applications, decision support tools, data services and eBusiness systems, today announced its latest release, StayinFront CRM 9.3. This release is designed to improve the user experience on Tablet PCs by meeting the highest Microsoft pen-perfect standard of integration within the Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 operating system. -- Posted Wednesday, December 7, 2005 by chb

Handango opens BlackBerry ringtone jukebox
Mobile content provider Handango has unveiled Ringphonic, a ringtone jukebox for BlackBerry devices with a library of more than 400 premium ringtones, including all the latest hits and timeless classics. If you're a BlackBerry users, do check it out!... -- Posted Tuesday, December 6, 2005 by chb

PDA phones and GPS PDAs to pass "pure" PDA
DigiTimes estimates that for the fiscal year 2005, both PDA phones and GPS-enabled PDAs will outpace shipping volume of conventional PDAs in the Taiwan PDA industry. The good news is that the overall number of shipped devices loosely included in the term "PDA" will be 13.73 million, up 52% from last year. This breaks down into 5.06 million PDA phones (a huge increase), 4.43 million "GPS PDAs (a substantial increase) and just 4.25 million comventional PDAs (a drop). -- Posted Tuesday, December 6, 2005 by chb

Paper displays make rapid progress
According to DigiTimes, Plastic Logic will show a 10-inch SVGA plastic display at the 12th International Displays Workshop in Japan this week. The thickness of the laminated display is not even 0.4mm (less than 1/60th of an inch). The display can be flexed and rolled. At this point, the display can only show four levels of gray, but that may change soon. According to Plastic Logic, the flexibility of the display allows pressure sensors to be placed under the screen, which means plastic displays could have touch screens without compromising the optical performance of the display. Our take: if progress on ultra-thin foldable screen continues along the same trajectory, the term "display" as we know it may well morph into something different entirely as any surface, flat or not, can become a display. -- Posted Tuesday, December 6, 2005 by chb

Mi-Co celebrates 3rd anniversary of Tablet PC
Mobile Data Capture specialist Mi-Co celebrates the 3rd anniversary of the Tablet PC: "A new era in digital ink solutions began in the fall of 2002 with three major events: the launch of the Tablet PC; the launch of the Logitech io Digital Pen using Anoto functionality and forms automation software that supports both major handwriting capture platforms by Mi-Co, the mobile data capture company. To observe the 3rd anniversary of the these milestones, Mi-Co has a number of activities underway including the publication of a white paper by James Clary, CEO of Mi-Co, entitled Modern Mobile Data Capture Technology for Government and Enterprise Applications. "Mi-Co welcomed the launch of the Tablet PC and the Logitech Digital Pen," stated Clary, "because this marked the point where the hardware and software for capturing and recognizing handwritten data came into synchronization. Prior to November 2002, many companies, including, Mi-Co, utilized Pocket PCs and other handwriting capture platforms, including signature capture pads. Similar to the introduction of the IBM Personal Computer, the new Tablet PCs and Digital Pens legitimized and accelerated the use of handwritten input like nothing that had happened before. The result is that industrial strength solutions are showing up in successful mobile forms automation implementations for an increasing number of enterprise and government applications." [Mi-Co Mi-Forms info][View White Paper on Modern Mobile Data Capture Technology for Government and Enterprise Applications] -- Posted Monday, December 5, 2005 by chb

Barcodes used in physicican order management system
Omnicell, Inc. announced the installation of its enhanced OmniLinkRx physician order management system at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Torrance, Calif. The latest version of OmniLinkRx uses bar codes to associate patients with physician orders, adds new HIPAA patient privacy protections, and gives nurses additional access to the status of pharmacy medication order approval. "Previously, digitized physician orders had to be opened and then associated with patients, which was time-consuming and a challenge to pharmacy productivity," explained Brad Blackwell, Omnicell pharmacy product manager. "By automating the patient association process and using bar code technology, productivity is increased, as is patient safety." Another major enhancement in use at Torrance Memorial allows nurses to view the status of a physician order not only from any PC with Internet access but also from an Omnicell OmniRx(R) medication dispensing cabinet. [see full release] -- Posted Monday, December 5, 2005 by chb

Satori forms automation system facilitates EMR adoption
Pen and paper forms remain the primary means of recording information for over 80% of healthcare professionals. The majority of doctors and nurses have been slow to adopt EMR (electronic medical record) due in large part to the inefficient, intrusive, and cumbersome computer-based interfaces available. Satori Labs, a leader in digital pen and paper solutions for healthcare, announced the launch of FusionForm Desktop, a new forms automation system that transforms the way that healthcare professionals create electronic patient records. As healthcare professionals write with a ballpoint pen on their own familiar forms, FusionForm utilizes digital pen technology to capture an electronic copy of everything written on the page. Clinical notes, drawings, and prescriptions can all be captured and shared with any other authorized healthcare professional on the network, or integrated into an existing EMR (electronic medical record) system. With advanced handwriting recognition technology and a simple interface for the writer to quickly verify the final electronic record, FusionForm Desktop provides the accessibility of pen and paper and the verified data integrity high-quality healthcare requires. [see info on FusionForm. -- Posted Monday, December 5, 2005 by chb

RIM gets some good news
Just like when Palm eventually won its Graffiti case against Xerox, RIM is now getting good news as the US Patent and Trademark Office appears to be rejecting some of the NTP patent claims. In the Palm case, a group of outraged industry veterans got together and produced evidence that the supposed patent had no merit, and the it was eventually thrown out in court. Sadly, this sort of thing goes back over a hundred years when an attorney named Selden managed to patent a "road locomotive" with a "liquid hydrocarbon rngine of the compression type" and then extracted license fees from all auto manufacturers until it was thrown out. -- Posted Friday, December 2, 2005 by chb