On the Road, Again

Well, it's that time of the year again. It's time for my annual wish list.

Every year I wish for my dream machine, but somehow it never seems to appear. Maybe I'm aspiring too high. I refuse to lower my aspirations - let the manufacturers raise theirs. Well, here goes nothing. I would like a notebook computer with a 3.0MHz processor and at least 1 Gigabyte of memory. A 100MB hard drive would be very nice. Of course, I'll need a floppy drive (but I wouldn't object to a 250MB Zip drive either). I will need a DVD-CD-RW with blazing speed (I just love that expression. It sounds like the drive will catch fire). No less than a 17-inch color screen of very high definition will do on my dream machine. I'm not picky about the graphics card, as long as it's the greatest and the fastest. I can't ask for much in the modem department, there hasn't been much improvement in this area for a while. It will need to have LAN capability also to satisfy me. I guess I'll just have to have the best that's available. I would love a battery that lasts as long as I can. Right now, that's at least 8 hours. It would be very nice if one of the bays were swappable, so that I could take advantage of any innovations that may come along. To top all this off, the whole thing should weigh no more than 6 pounds and cost less than $1,500, but I'm not optimistic.

On a lighter note, have you caught all the hype over PDA cellular phones that can take and send pictures? I can just imagine what will happen in heavy traffic when someone gets a picture on his or her phone. Just the conversational distractions to most motorists are bad enough. Motorola plans to come out with their T720i by the end of this year. This full-color flip phone has a detachable camera with lens that can rotate 180 degrees. Your pictures are stored in the phone, which includes a photo album and a slide show. No memory is needed in the camera.

3COM Corporation (Santa Clara, CA) will release the "Embedded Firewall PC Card," and an "Embedded Firewall Policy Server." These products not only secure access to your notebook or desktop, but also provide a 10/100Mbps Ethernet connection. Standard packet filtering, enforced no-sniffing and no-spooling rules, and ping request denials are also provided. Prices for the Policy Server, Version 1.5 start at $995 for support of 1,000 clients. The PC Card starts at $219.

For all you Road Warriors who do presentations using your notebook, Atek Electronics makes the Tote-Remote. This device provides a remote control with a USB dongle that allows you to remotely manage the presentation, from any system, using standard wireless technology. The Tote-Remote works with PowerPoint, Word or Web browsers. In word or web browsers the control only moves the cursor up or down. The Tote-Remote is powered by a lithium coin battery and is priced at $79. It works with most Windows and Mac systems. Atek can be contacted at www.atek.com.

If you're concerned about security for your notebook (I don't have anything on mine worth stealing), you can get TrekStor's new ThumbDrive Touch. This device combines storage (16MB, 32MB, 64MB and 128MB capacity) with a built-in fingerprint reader. The storage in the drive can be portioned into two areas, one public and one accessed by the biometric fingerprint. You can decide the size of these areas based on the capacity of the device. Prices range from $69 to $199. TrekStor can be reached at www.thumbdrive.com.

Microsoft is working on two new versions of the Windows CE operating system. The next version of CE, code named McKendric, will be released next year and another version code named Macallan will be released in 2005. McKendric will target VOIP phones and their components. Macallan will have greater storage capacity and a better file system that will complement the next version of Windows code named Longhorn.

Intel Corporation's new processor, named Banias, is presumed to be slower than the current 2.0 Gigahertz chips, however, it will be optimized for mobile computers. It's rumored that it will be more powerful than past generations of mobile processors and will increase battery life. Wireless networking will also be supported. Does this mean that slower is better? We'll see when Banias comes out next year.