SANDY BERGER: High-Tech Gadgets Can Now Multi-Task
The variety of high-tech gadgets hasn't changed much over the last few years.
The main gadgets are still things like cell phones, printers, digital cameras, camcorders and digital music players. Very few new categories of gadgets have been added, with e-book readers being the only popular one I can think of right off hand.
What has changed, however, is that many of our gadgets have become multi-tasking. Phones can take pictures, send e-mail, and record video. Printers can print, scan, copy, and talk to the Internet.
In case you haven't seen some of these gadgets, let me tell you about a few of them.
The iPod Nano that was recently announced by Apple plays digital music like the original iPod, but it also plays and records video. It has an FM radio, which lets you pause and resume live broadcasts, and also has a built-in pedometer. The nano weights in at slightly more than over 1 ounces. It is less than a quarter-inch thick and can easily fit in the palm of your hand. Given all that it can do along with its small size, it is an amazing gadget.
HP has recently introduced a TouchSmart Web printer. It has put some of the smarts of the computer right into the printer. Not only does this printer print, fax, copy and scan, but also it can run Web applications. So the printer gives you access to customized daily news, maps, coupons, coloring pages, movie tickets, recipes, personal calendars and more.
You can print out a daily Sudoku puzzle, a map with directions to the mall, coupons, movie tickets, or coloring pages for the kids. It's hard to believe that a printer can do all this without the use of a computer. But it shows how gadgets are starting to multi-task and also shows how much smarter all our gadgets are getting.
And what would this discussion of cool multi-functioning gadgets be without talking about smart phones? The iPhone is the ultimate Swiss army knife of cell phones. Many other phones like the Palm Pre are following its lead. The iPhone can not only make phone calls, but also it can surf the Web, get your e-mail, play music, record and edit video, take pictures, and record your voice. It can pinpoint your location and give you interactive maps and directions.
The iPhone is also the perfect gaming machine -- not to mention that it can also act like a flashlight, a compass, a level, a shopping aid, a restaurant finder, a remote control and an Internet radio.
Many of today's digital cameras can also take video. They can pinpoint your location and tag your photos with the location where they were taken. Many let you edit the photo right in the camera. They can recognize faces and even know when your subject is smiling. Some let you e-mail your photos or post them to the Internet right from the camera.
Samsung has a new digital camera that has an LCD screen on both sides of the camera. So you can use it to frame yourself in a photo. The Pogo is a camera that also prints out your photos, marrying the camera and the printer. You would probably not be surprised to find out that the Pogo is manufactured by Polaroid, but you would be surprised at the quality of the photo printing that it does. It is a world ahead of the Polaroid prints that you may remember from the 1960s.
Of course, there are also televisions that can access the Internet as well as show you who is calling on the telephone right on your television screen. Verizon FIOS and AT&T U-Verse services are offering many Internet-type applications on the television. Although these are not available in our area, they are becoming more and more widespread.
Basically, it seems that devices from cell phones to televisions are becoming more and more computerized. When that happens, they can perform functions that most of us can hardly imagine.
Expect to see all of our gadgets become smarter and more capable and more able to handle multiple tasks. Who knows where this may wind up? It may be quite awhile before our televisions can also clean our clothes, but it not outside of the realm of possibility.
Sandy Berger welcomes all of your questions and comments on today's column. Please post them on the Compu-Kiss Message Board at www.compukiss.com/happycomputing.
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