Be More Mobile Than Ever

The latest products unveiled at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show will impress you, from the smallest laptops to life-like, 3D GPS maps and even printers that you can take as you go.

February 1, 2008

In the world of real estate, you often spend more time outside of the office than in it. To be able to keep your business operating effectively and efficiently — no matter where you are — you need the right technology tools.

There's good news for the mobile real estate professional with a budget for new tools because you’ll have plenty to choose from this year.

January’s annual tech twosome — the Consumer Electronics Show and the Macworld Expo —showcased new product concepts and practical solutions to make work life easier and more productive for anyone who‘d rather spend their time in the field with buyers and sellers than tucked away in an office.

Here’s a sampling of some of the latest mobile products hitting the market this year.

Add Some Flash

In the broadest sense, advances in storage, and especially in flash memory, are allowing for devices that are more powerful, yet more compact. Flash drives as a compact storage solution are starting to appear in everything from camcorders to computers.

Sandisk, for example, unveiled a 12GB microSD flash memory card for smart phones and other devices with a compatible microSD slot.

Computer Downsize

Laptops are getting smaller and lighter while offering features once only found on desktop units. Here’s a sampling of these lightweights hitting the market:

Apple’s MacBook Air: demonstrates how thin a laptop can get without sacrificing full-sized performance. Though it’s just three-quarters of an inch and weighs about three pounds, there’s no trade-off in system features. The basic configuration, costing $1,799, includes a 13.3-inch LED display, full-size keyboard, large multi-touch trackpad, 1.6GHz processor, 2GB RAM, 80GB hard drive, built-in camera, and WiFi n.

Samsung’s Q1 Ultra Premium: weighing just two pounds, it runs Windows XP Tablet Edition on its seven-inch touch-sensitive screen. Key specs: 1.3GHz processor, 1GB RAM, split keyboard, 80GB hard drive, wireless Wi-Fi g/b, and Bluetooth. Extras include a built-in 1.3 megapixel camera, a fingerprint reader, and SD expansion card slot.

Fujitsu’s Intel Core Duo LifebookP8010: comes at a base price of $1,699 and boasts a 12.1-inch LED display and spill-resistant keyboard, and an embedded fingerprint reader — yet weighs less than three pounds. A built-in camera for video conferencing is optional.

Lenovo’s IdeaPad U110: targets the general computer user. Its stylish compact will feature an 11-inch LCD screen and a built-in camera in a compact package 0.7 inches thick and 2.3 pounds. One innovative feature is face recognition technology called Veriface which can match a person’s face to a stored photo before granting system access. Final specs and configurations will not be available until the unit ships in April.

Car Gadgets: GPS and More

While we’re on the subject of mobile PCs, how about a computer built into the dashboard of your car?

For example, Azentek, which pioneered the car computer with its CPC-1000 in 2007 adds four new models of this voice/touch controlled Windows PC, ranging from the basic Venus CE-1200, $999, to the multi-function CPC-1200. For $2,799, it has just about everything a driver could want: Intel Duo-Core processor running Windows Vista, Bluetooth, AM/FM/Satellite Radio, HD Radio, CDRW/DVD/MP3/WMA, GPS navigation, WIFi, and Bluetooth wireless support.

GPS navigation systems continue to evolve in ways that make them more useful and responsive to your needs. The following are some of the upgrades you can expect with GPSs in the coming months:

Better imaging. One trend pointing the way for the future is the use of 3D maps on some models to more accurately portray an area on screen. For example, Tele Atlas plans to start releasing 3D maps for select American cities this year. On Sony’s NV-U83T, a feature called Position Plus, includes a dual-view mode with a 3D rendering of complicated intersections. The $499 unit is loaded with 2GB of maps.

More Convenience. Garmin’s Nuvi 5000 features a 5.2 inch touch-sensitive screen for comfortable direction retrieval and map viewing.

Improved local information. Magellan’s maestro Elite 5340+GPRS integrates GPS with Google‘s local search feature to find business or services in an area and provide directions there.

Mobile Imaging

A couple of new printing systems let you print directly from camera, camera phone, or computer. Some of the debuts with printing include:

Inkless printers: Polaroid has licensed the inkless ZINK Zero Ink Printing Technology for its Mobile Photo Printer to be available later this year. Slightly larger than a deck of cards, it plugs into the USB port or connects via Bluetooth for 2x3-inch photo prints on the spot. Pricing and availability is not yet set.

Print on-the-go: Already available for $299, the PrintStik from Planon, is a Bluetooth-compatible thermal printer which can print directly from compatible hardware at 200 dpi resolution and three pages per minute.

Meanwhile, another imaging solution with gee-whiz implications for the future is a new class of mini projection TV systems from 3M and Light Blue Optics. They are small enough to be embedded in mobile hardware. 3M’s system can project a crisp color image 40 inches wide on any flat surface. Such devices could give smart phone users a much larger screen for browsing the Web, running applications or making presentations from mobile hardware without connecting an external monitor.

Safety and Security

Would you use a cell phone headset if only they weren’t so obtrusive? NextLink claims its Invisio G5 is the world’s smallest Bluetooth headset for hands-free calling. It weighs just six grams, and measures just 1.3 by 0.6 inches.

If it’s data back-up while on-the-go you’re worried about, Sandisk’s new Titantium Cruzer Plus flash drive automatically backs up anything stored on the drive to a Web site where it’s saved. It will be available in March for $59.95, including six months of data back-up service.

A similar-sized device, the Firestick Pico from Yoggie plugs into a USB port to provide complete security suite protection. This approach frees the system processor from continually running security software, thereby improving overall performance. It’s now available for $119.

And with all this extra power from all these new tech gadgets, you might need Targus’ HeatDefense cooling pad, the must-have for laptop users concerned about heat generated during operation. Place the $29 pad beneath your laptop and it absorbs and dissipates heat, allowing the system to run cooler.

Needless to say, there’s a tech gadget out there for everything!