Monday, January 18, 2010


So what IS really new? What should we crave -- die to get our hands on -- what's urgent, important, that will change your life and mine?

For me, it's a big thing to stay in tune with the times. At the Las Vegas International Consumer Electronics Show, the big news was three-dimensional television. Right now, manufacturers and dealers probably have dollar signs before their eyes, remembering how CDs replaced records, how DVD players replaced VCRs, picturing the hordes lining up to buy a 3D TV.

(I miss our VCR -- still haven't thrown out the "Sopranos" cassettes the show's creator, David Chase, a friend of JC's, sent us every week or so.)

So how much will a 3D TV cost? The manufacturer, Phillips, was selling its 3D TVs in a $3,000 to $12,000 range, but shut down production because of the recession.

I have to admit, I'm underwhelmed by the idea of 3D TV in my house. It seems more like something for the kids and their various rob-fight-kill-destroy TV games.

What else was new? The peripatetic tech writer, Peter Ha, (of Tech Crunch and, representing Poland's Techland, announced seven new palm products -- hand-held "gizmos" that can do what your phone, or Blackberry can do -- do it faster, with added capabilities for note-taking, reading books, driving aids, calculating, with or without 3D and blue tooth.

Reading what Peter Ha said about the gizmos was fascinating, (mostly over my head), but he didn't mention anything I'd consider buying. (I still feel overloaded with the do's and don'ts in the booklets that came with my two-week old new stove and one-week old new refrigerator.)

There was a lot of talk at the convention about "Androids" -- the "Custom Android, SIM," and "TDK" and "SDK." (I don't know what the initials stand for -- a new thing I need for 2010 is a portable acronym translator -- maybe on a lapel pin I can wear all the time.)

I Googled "Android" -- it's software for mobile devices -- operating system, management software, and key applications. Being a Dell customer with four Dell computers, I had a brochure with pictures of the "Dell Mini 5 Android." It looks like a big iPhone -- it makes calls, and supports "full multi-touch."

What's multi-touch? There was no explanation in the booklet, but I figure the term means when you touch it -- wipe, slide, point, flick, brush, or tap -- something is activated.

A reviewer said, "The most awesome feature of the Dell Mini 5 is its 5-inch screen, (a 5 mp camera) so your subject fills the entire frame. I like the Mini 5 and Android on board. I don't have a need for this or any 5-inch tablet, but I'm going to give 'em a shot all the same."

Would I give it a shot? Why? I don't know how I'd use it. But apparently participants at the Las Vegas Show love it. Most of them have built their careers on these innovative new things -- learning how to handle them, and devising new ways to use them.

There were quite a few references to Apple's new "tablet." Apparently there have been rumors about it for more than a year.

"Tablet" refers to a laptop or slate-shaped, mobile computer, equipped with a touch-screen, or graphics screen that you can use to operate the computer with a stylus, digital pen, or fingertip, not a keyboard or mouse. (Those teeny tiny keyboards, utterly defeat me.)

Allan Hoffman, tech expert for the New Jersey Star-Ledger, said -- "I can sum up my attitude toward the Apple tablet in three words: I want one. Reports suggest Apple's going to introduce the tablet at a January 27 event in San Francisco. That’s enough for me to join the scores of other technology writers, business analysts and bloggers in speculating about what the device will be like and how it will change the world."

(Ah ha, I thought after I Googled "Apple tablet" and saw a headline in Business Week -- "Five Ways Apple's Tablet May Change the World.")

I skimmed it. Business Week predicts it will be a thin, slate-like device with a 10-inch color touch-screen, like an over-sized iPhone, with more than enough features that will let you leave your notebook computer behind on a business trip.

It doesn't sound like something that would affect me as a writer. I'd be interested if one of the new gizmos got rid of fingers and the impossibly tiny keyboard.

Hey ... "The Dragon, Naturally Speaking" -- it's been around for a while ... Why not have baby dragon something-or-other -- you give it an order like "email and so" -- "pay my bills" -- no apps no slide, wipe, flick, tap -- just tell it what to do?

Well ... I guess I've joined the horde that's waiting for something new ... A hand-held slate/pad/tablet that I can tell what to do and it does it!

I'd love it. Whoopee! I'd buy one in a flash!
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