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VOLUME -22 NUMBER 12
Publication Date: 12/1/2007
Front Page News
People in the News
Electronic Mfg. Services
Electronic Mfg. Products
Special Feature: Test and Measurement
Product Preview: Electronics West / MDM
December 2007 Issue
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New Technology Gets Old Too Fast
Walter Salm, Editor
One of the problems with new technology is that it very quickly becomes old technology. This happens on a daily basis in our industry, and it's all part of the drive to grab market share with that hot new product which may have a market lifespan of 6 months or so. I am chagrined to admit that the teenager down the block is far more up to date than I am.
This is hardly surprising. All I have to do is look at the computer hardware I now use and then take a walk through Best Buy or Circuit City or Fry's to see just how far behind and outdated I am. This in spite of the fact that I bought a new notebook computer only a few weeks ago.
My most recent "prize" is a Novatel adapter card that enables me to use my new Verizon Express card in both my new Sony Vaio and my older Averatec notebook computers. (See "TechWatch" on page 10.) The biggest bomb was finding out that the Kyocera KR1 mobile router would not work with the Express card/PCMCIA adapter combination. Chalk that one up to a learning experience, plus a 15 percent restocking fee charged by the mail-order seller for returned hardware. I thought I had discovered an elegant solution to getting Internet on all of my computers at the same time, but this endeavor will apparently require some more research. I still have my old Lincsys router which may just do the job. Read all about it in next month's TechWatch.
The other day, I noted with interest that some fellow RVers were recommending the Sony eBook reader currently on sale at Costco for $249.95. The big deal here is it will hold up to 80 books in its memory, which can solve what has become a major storage problem for us, living on the road in a motor coach. My wife and I both are avid book-readers, and I am currently hefting an 800-page biography which would really be nice if it were reduced to the slender confines of an eBook reader.
In the meantime, Amazon.com has been pummeling my e-mail with news about its own new eBook reader priced at $400-plus. I have not investigated that one any further, since the price is way too steep. I saw a Franklin reader at last January's Consumer Electronics Show that retails for something like $140, a much more realistic price tag.
I went to Costco and played with the Sony reader and decided that I did not like it for several reasons. First and foremost, there is no backlighting for the screen, which means that strong ambient lighting is needed. Second, I could get no information on battery life for the built-in rechargeable supply. Third, it was too skinny; I would opt for a thicker unit that has backlighting and heftier batteries. The unit is monochrome, so their advertising pitch about viewing pictures was totally lost on me. How many black-and-white photos do you have stored from your digital camera? My answer is zero. I would also like to see a protective cover that opens like a real book. This would probably be an extra-cost accessory item. And the controls could really be more intuitive than they are. Are you paying attention, Sony design engineers? Definitely not worth $250 to me. In my estimation, the product was worth about $50. Okay, add another $10 for the Sony name and make it $60. Remember, you still have to pay for book downloads at prices that rival the full retail price for old-fashioned printed editions. And not all of the most current titles will be available.
But if you're stuck for a really different kind of Holiday gift, and you don't have to use the beast yourself, it might make someone on your gift list very happy. Not for me. I'll wait until they get better and cheaper, which they are bound to do in this fast-paced, fast-changing industry.
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