- 08 December, 2007 22:00
1. Mio DigiWalker C720t Never underestimate the difference an extra inch can make. Of all the GPS navigation devices we looked at in 2007 - and there were many - the widescreen Mio C520 is the one that impressed us the most. The Mio's slightly wider screen allows you to have a turn-by-turn description of your route, as well as the usual graphical depiction, both on the screen at the same time. The C720t, due in Australia in December, builds on that widescreen loveliness, and adds live traffic data to the turn-by-turn description. The $699 navigator tunes in to "traffic message channel" radio broadcasts (available only in Melbourne, but due to reach other Australian cities in 2008) to warn you when the planned route is congested with traffic. And if you do get stuck in a bottleneck, you can always use the C720t's widescreen to watch movies.
2. Sony Ericsson MBW-150
It's not quite the watch James Bond would wear, but the oversized Sony Ericsson MBW-150 comes closer than most. This large, $399 timepiece has built-in Bluetooth and a small organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display, which combine to allow you to control your mobile phone from your wrist. Incoming caller IDs (or the caller's name if your phone recognises the number) appear on the OLED, and calls can be answered or declined with the press of a button. The MBW-150 can also control the music player on compatible phones, using the OLED to display the track name and the buttons for volume and navigation between tracks. It will also vibrate when you receive an SMS or MMS message. The only James Bond thing you can't do with the MBW-150 is talk into it: you still need a Bluetooth headset paired with your phone.
3. Apple iPhone
We were a little torn about putting the iPhone on this list. On the one hand, you can't really have a list of executive gadgets without the iPhone. On the other hand, what on earth is left to say about it? The only thing we can say is that, now that Apple is officially opening up the iPod-cum-phone-cum-handheld computer to third-party software developers, there should be an absolute bevy of software available for the iPhone soon after it's released in Australia in early 2008. The paucity of work applications for the iPhone has been a real thorn in the side for business people. But all that should be solved when the likes of Research In Motion (maker of the BlackBerry), Microsoft, Good Software, SAP and IBM are all at liberty to add their own applications to the iPhone platform; unless they all switch to the Google phone platform, also due out in 2008.
4. BlackBerry Pearl 8120
The best thing about the new BlackBerry Pearl 8120 is the thing that's been in BlackBerrys for years: when you read an email on the phone, it gets marked as "read" in your computer's inbox, saving you from the letdown of having 300 unread emails waiting for you when you return to your desk after a long, boozy lunch. Like other BlackBerrys, the new Pearl also does over-the-mobile-phone-system synchronisation of your desktop calendar and address book, and gives you live access to your corporate directory. But the 8120 has some handy new features, too. Its camera resolution has been increased to 2 megapixels (up from 1.3 megapixels) and it can shoot video as well as still shots. And it has built-in wi-fi, potentially slashing your overseas roaming fees if your service provider allows you to use it. And the cut-down keypad is not as fiddly as it looks.
5. Fujitsu LifeBook P1610
We didn't like most of the ultra-mobile PCs we saw in 2007, but we did like Fujitsu's LifeBook P1610. The main difference between it and the loathsome laptops was that the touch screen on the Fujitsu has just the right amount of sensitivity. We can't recommend the LifeBook as your main PC. Its 23-centimetre WXGA transflective screen is small enough that it will drive you crazy if it is your only screen. But it does make a great second PC, for when you need something light (roughly one kilogram) and portable. And, for those of you who can afford the phone bills, it has built-in HSDPA mobile broadband connectivity, featuring download speeds that are faster than your average, sub-par fixed broadband connection. It also has wi-fi and Bluetooth. The thing runs Vista and is $3099 - the cost is just about the only thing we didn't like about it.
6. Asus Eee PC
If $3099 is too much for a second computer, maybe $499 is more your style. Asus's Eee PC is ultra portable, roughly the same size and weight as the Fujitsu, but at just one-sixth of the cost. Being so cheap, the Eee PC (which, by the way, is pronounced simply "e PC") is naturally as light on features as it is on weight. Its solid-state hard disk holds only four gigabytes of data, including the Linux operating system it comes with; its screen is only seven inches diagonally; its 900 MHz Intel Celeron CPU is on the slow side. But it does have a decent 3.5-hour battery life; and it can run Windows, potentially making it the ideal ultra-portable for anyone who only
needs one from time to time. Did we mention that it's only $499? Holy cow! You could buy half a dozen of them as stocking fillers.
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