Smarter Tools: The Latest Tech Innovations

The cool new offerings at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show promise an exciting year of faster, smarter technology.

February 1, 2006

In technology, the New Year really kicks off with the International Consumer Electronics Show, which was held Jan. 5-8 in Las Vegas. There, vendors of everything electronic unveil their latest products, highlighting the trends that will define the year ahead.

If you’ve been sitting on your tech budget awaiting this year’s model for a technology you use, you won’t be disappointed. Once again prices are falling as functionality improves, and there promises to be some new approaches to old challenges.

Here’s a brief overview of some of the news coming out of the CES that may help you in your real estate career:

Faster Notebook Computers

  • Intel’s announcement of an upgraded Centrino processor for notebooks was timed with the introduction of several new models. The Centrino Duo Mobile Technology combines two mobile-processing cores on a single chip, delivering faster system performance with reduced battery consumption.
  • The new duo-core processor is already available in Dell’s Inspiron E1705, a multimedia desktop replacement notebook. Features in the basic configuration include the new Intel T2400 duo-core processor, with each core rated at 1.83GHz; 1GB RAM; 80GB hard drive; combo CD-RW/DVD drive; a 17-inch screen display; Wi-Fi support; and a five-in-one media card reader. Price starts at $1,999.
  • Gateway plans to incorporate the duo-core technology into five new models. Business models, to be released some time this month, range from the M685-E, a desktop replacement system with full-sized keyboard and 17-inch wide-screen display. The basic system, $1,699, includes the new T2300 processor with cores rated at 1.67GHZ; 512MB RAM; 80GB hard drive; and built-in Wi-Fi support. The M465-E, a more compact unit recommended for mobile professionals on a budget, also features the T2300 processor and 512MB RAM, but a smaller 40GB hard drive and 15.4-inch screen in its basic configuration. Price starts at $1,399. Gateway’s basic NX560X, already released, starts at $1,099. 99 for an Intel T2300 processor with each core rated at 1.66GHz. The unit also has 512MB RAM, 40GB hard drive, Wi-Fi support, a CD-RW/DVD drive that plugs into the unit’s expansion bay, and a 15.4-inch LCD monitor.
  • Hewlett Packard unveiled a different take on mobile computing with its nc6140 notebook, designed to run on the Verizon Wireless EV-DO broadband network. Pricing on this unit starts at $1,399 for a 1.86GHz Pentium M processor, 512MB RAM, a 40GB hard drive, a combo CD-RW/DVD drive, and a 15-inch LCD.

Smarter Phones and PDAs

  • Palm’s new Treo 700w smartphone already is available through Verizon Wireless for as low as $399, depending on the service contract. The first Palm-made device to run the Windows Mobile operating system, the Treo 700w combines Palm functionality with Windows software compatibility, and supports a broadband connection to the Web for subscribers of the Verizon Wireless EV-DO broadband network. Versions from other carriers should follow later this year.
  • Samsung’s latest smartphones include the SCH-i830, which also will be available through Verizon initially. It boasts Windows Mobile operating system, a full QWERTY keypad, SecureDigital memory card expansion slot, and is designed to operate anywhere in the world. Pricing and availability to be announced.
  • Garmin added a restyled version of its Palm-based PDA with built-in GPS capabilities. The iQue 3000 runs Palm OS5 applications, has a memory expansion slot, and provides GPS-based point-to-point directions. Price is $399.
  • If you’re open to something between a PDA and full-function notebook, the cPC from DualCor Technologies may sound intriguing. This $1,500 hybrid, expected to be delivered next month, runs Windows Mobile and Windows XP Tablet operating systems simultaneously and features a 5-inch touch-screen LCD display and 40GB hard drive; it weighs 17 ounces.

A New Approach to Wide Angle

Kodak offers a hybrid of a different sort in its new EasyShare V570 digital camera. If you’ve been looking for a versatile solution for wide-angle photos, consider this compact, 5-megapixel camera. The $399 unit features not one — but two — lenses: a 39mm-to-117mm zoom lens for standard photography, and a separate 23mm lens for wide-angle shots needed to capture an entire home or full room views. Users simply switch between lenses, based on subject.

Falling Printer Prices

Simplified Networking

Panasonic has an easy answer for small office/home office users who haven’t yet put together a network. Its BL-PA100 HD-PLC Ethernet Adapter easily transforms standard electrical wiring into a broadband network. This might be a good option for anyone who doesn’t want to run special cables that’s required for a wired network or who are concerned about security and privacy risks with a wireless network.

Just plug the Panasonic adapter into the wall, connect your broadband modem to its Ethernet port, and you can get online by connecting your PC to a second adapter plugged into any wall outlet in the house. The adapters also can be used to create a high-speed network linking several devices over household wiring. A starter kit, including two adapters, should reach stores within a month at the suggested retail price of $199.99.

Great Options for the Year

All of these products show great promise for cheaper, faster, and better technology coming down the pike this year. If you wait a few weeks or months, prices will come down even further as the selection of comparable products increases. So, there should be no reason to wait to make that leap to upgrade or replace your tech tools this year — especially if waiting means denying yourself the immediate gratification of having the latest technology and the bragging rights that go with being the first to show off the latest gee-whiz gadgetry.

    The big news here is Samsung’s announcement of a color laser printer at a new low price of $299. This printer produces black-and-white prints at 17 pages per minute (ppm) and color at four ppm, both at 600 dpi. Designed for the desktop, it measures just 15.4-by-13.5-by-10.4-inches. A version that can be hooked up to a network will be available for $100 more.

  • Canon’s new PIXMA MP150 Photo All-in-One inkjet printer, priced very low at $89.99, also make multifunction inkjets more attractive. The unit can serve as a dedicated photo printer or standard inkjet, as well as color scanner and copier. For standard use, it’s rated at 22 ppm in black and white and 17 ppm in color, with a maximum print resolution of 1,200-by-2,400 dpi. As a photo printer, it produces a standard 4-by-6-inch print in less than a minute at 4,800-by-1,200 dpi.