On the Road, Again

Have you noticed that the rush to produce computing devices has intensified?

Current (and earlier) devices have been mostly of the under-the-hood type. Now the race seems to be to your dashboard. Rockford has announced the Omnifi, that allows you to wirelessly transfer music from your PC to the car, where you can play it on an in-dash stereo. Compatible with 802.11b networks, the Omnifi lets you manage all media on the notebook or desktop. The in-dash device can store up to 20 Gigabytes. At $599 for the in dash unit and $99 for the wireless device, it's a bit pricey for me. Rockford can be contacted at www.rockfordcorp.com.

Linksys has joined Zandiant Technologies to develop a dashboard MP3 player that links to your home network or hot spots by Wi-Fi. The device is expected to be released by June. Linksys can be reached at www.linksys.com and Zandiant at www.zandiant.com.

Harman Kardon has a GPS in-dash stereo combination that has advanced voice-driving directions. An onscreen soft keypad lets you enter addresses, intersections, or points of interest. Sound from the radio or CD is automatically muted when navigational voice prompts are given. Harman can be contacted at www.hktrafficpro.com.

If you're more interested in the under-the-hood devices, check out Davis Instruments. Their CarChip device continuously collects and stores data from the car's computer systems. You can monitor the driving habits of other users of your car and track mileage on trips. You can then transfer the data to your notebook or desktop. Davis can be reached at www.davisnet.com.

Shecom Computers Ikebana USB 2.0 Slimline hard drive is a pocketable hard drive that is less than 1 inch thick and weighs 14 ounces. It runs at 4,400rpm and comes in 20MB, 30MB, 40MB and 60MB, and gets its power from the computer. The Slimline is priced at $259. Shecom can be contacted at www.ikebanadrive.com.

Take a look at the April 2003 edition of Computer Shopper. They have an Editors' Top 5 covering 5 products in the categories of desktops, notebooks, optical drives, printers and software. I won't go into details, except to tell you that in the notebook category they rated the Fujitsu LifeBook S Series, the WinBook J4, Toshiba Satellite 5205-S503, IBM ThinkPad R40 and the Hewlett-Packard Evo N1015v. Of these five, the Fujitsu Lifebook S Series received their highest overall rating.

I've just seen a Hewlett-Packard iPaq Pocket PC h1910 in action as a navigation device. The map looked good and it indicated where you were (pretty good considering that we were flying and not roaming around on a clogged road). I have told you about the iPaq as a Pocket PC in the past but, this model has a 200 Megahertz Intel PXA250 processor, 64MB of built-in RAM, 16MB of flash ROM, a Secure Digital /MultiMediaCard slot, a removable battery, and a 65,000 color TFT screen. AT 4.1 ounces and 4.5 by 2.75 by 0.5 inches, it's easily one of the handiest Pocket PCs. The h1910 sells for $299.99 without a cradle. The syncing cradle is an additional $49.99. HP can be reached at www.hp.com.

Also, take a look in the April issue of Computer Shopper for a review by Rick Broida of seven Pocket PCs.

Micro Pro, Inc. has the SlateVision Tablet PC 6003 which they claim, "is more versatile than a laptop and as powerful as your desktop." I don't think so! With a 933 Megahertz processor, a 10.4 inch active matrix XGA TFT LCD screen (with digitizer display), 256MB of DDR SO-DIMM memory, a 20 Gigabyte Ultra DMA hard drive, a 6-cell Li-Ion battery, a 56Kbps v.90 modem, 10/100 Ethernet, two USB ports, one Firewire IEEE 1394 connection, and a Type II PC Card slot with Card Bus EMD Standard Pen. The 6003 weighs 3 pounds and measures 11.3 by 8.5 by 1.06 inches. Priced at $1,399, it will never replace my machines, but it might fit someone's need. Micro Pro can be contacted at www.micropro.com.