Samsung has developed a cell phone capable of receiving real-time traffic information using a new system called TPEG (Transport Protocol Experts Group). The SPH-B5800 phone can receive and decode the information broadcast using the format, which was developed in Europe in the late 1990s and is already in use in South Korea. The phone updates travel information every five minutes and can also display TV stations broadcast through the country's Satellite DMB system. It includes a 2 megapixel camera, 330,000 word dictionary and 2-inch colour thin-fi lm transistor LCD screen. It measures 96mm x 46mm x 16mm and weighs 96g. It went on sale in South Korea in December and there are no current plans to offer it overseas.
NEC N902iX HSDPA
Japan's NTT DoCoMo has just launched its high-speed downlink packet access network providing downloads of up to 1.8Mbps and uploads of 384Kbps. To coincide with the launch NEC has released its chunky-looking N902iX cell phone. The handset also supports the DCMX service that means it can be used to make credit payments in some shops. It is available now but it will not work outside of Japan. The price depends on carrier incentives and discounts.
Sharp's latest cell phone for Japanese carrier, Softbank Mobile, proudly carries the Aquos badge that the company uses on its LCD TVs. The phone packs a 3-inch widescreen display panel based on the same technology used in the TV sets and includes a tuner for the mobile digital TV service, so it is almost like having an Aquos TV in your pocket. Other features of the handset include dualmode Wideband Code Division Multiple Access/Global System for Mobile Communications, Bluetooth, 2 megapixel camera and a browser for conventional websites. The price has yet to be announced.
If you need to monitor somewhere that is handy to an Ethernet connection then network cameras such as Canon's new VB-C300 are great. They plug into an Ethernet connection and stream video to a computer at the other end. Features include a 2.4x optical zoom and auto focus. Canon has added a day and night mode which switches automatically to provide a better picture at the respective time. The camera is mounted on a bracket that provides 170 degrees of pan in each direction and tilt of 25 degrees in one direction and 90 degrees in the other. Security sensors can also be connected, as can a speaker, so a real-time audio feed can be broadcast by the camera to the area under surveillance. It will be on sale in Japan in March.
Toshiba Gigabeat V30E and V60E
Toshiba is out to impress with the new Gigabeat V-series models. Available in both 30GB (V30E) and 60GB (V60E) models, the hard-disk drive players have a 3.5-inch QVGA (320 pixels x 240 pixels) resolution display that occupies most of the front panel. It will play a host of music and video formats including Windows Media, WMA9 Lossless, MP3 and WAV audio files including those encoded with Windows Media DRM10. It can also show JPEG images. The video playback is a little disappointing as it is limited to Windows Media Video files. Also included is a tuner for Japan's mobile digital TV service, called OneSeg. The device can record TV shows off-air for later viewing. The on-screen interface is in Japanese or English and it's been on sale in Japan since late November. There is no word on international launch plans.
V30E - $US419; V60E - $US503
Panasonic ToughBook 19 and 30
Drop it, bang it, crash it, and do just about anything you like with the latest ToughBook laptop computers from Panasonic. There are two models available, the 19- and 30- series. Each is based around an Intel Centrino Duo processor. Both can withstand a drop of about 90cm and are resistant to shock, vibration, water and dust. The 19-series model is convertible and comes with a touch screen, while the 30-series model includes a super-bright (1000 nits) LCD panel that should make it easy to use outdoors. They are available now in the US and will be on sale in Japan in February.
19-series - $US2526; 30-series - $US3710