Glorious gadgets

If there’s any constant about technology it’s that it is always changing. Here’s a glimpse of some of the latest offerings in gadget-land.

AAA Battery Powered Cell Phones
A new cell phone that can be recharged using any AAA battery will hit store shelves later this year. According to the Dutch electronics maker Philips, the battery will provide the user with 3 hours of extended talk time and a week of standby time.

The cell phone, called Xenium NRG, can use any brand of AAA battery. After inserting the battery, the phone is almost instantly recharged. Users can also continue to use multimedia features including listening to FM radio, playing music, making video recordings and taking pictures.

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Laptops that can take what you give them
Laptops have toughened up. Several leading manufacturers, including Dell and Panasonic have launched rugged or semi-rugged laptops. While rugged notebooks offer the most protection, semi-rugged models such as Dell’s Latitude ATG D620 offer enough protection for, say, construction workers on a site, but with its lighter weight makes it more easily portable.

The Dell Latitude ATG D620 has a 14.1” screen which is designed to be visible in bright conditions, a shock-mounted hard drive, a spill-resistant keyboard and wi-fi connectivity. Buyers can specify features such as speed of processor, capacity of hard drive and type of operating system.

For those seeking something a bit more petite, Panasonic’s 1.24kg Toughbook CF-W5 comes with a 12.1” screen.

On the other hand, if it’s the boot-camp variety you’re seeking, General Dynamics offers its XR-1 fully rugged notebook. This laptop is completely watertight, so can be used in the rain – and if you happen to drop it, no worries. While it has the same screen size as the Panasonic it weighs more than twice as much at 3.1kg.

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Dell Latitude ATG D620
Panasonic Toughbook
General Dynamic XR-1

BlackBerry slims down
The new BlackBerry 8800, launched by Research in Motion, is a slimmed down version of its predecessors but with the same phone and email features. Besides its reduced size (to just 14mm thick) the main addition is a Global Positioning System (GPS), which means you can access maps and directions, which link to the address book so you can pull up a map using an address or email directions to other people.

Another new feature is a music and video player.

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Apple iPhone
The anticipated June launch of the Apple iPhone has created a lot of buzz. The phone’s innovative touch screen allows users to access the Internet without separate keyboards or trying to type out messages using tiny buttons with multiple letters on them. With a 3.5-inch color widescreen, the device allows you to connect to the Internet, email, your address book and your digital photos and music.

The price of the iPhone, however, is not cheap at $499 USD for a 4-gigabyte model and $599 USD for an 8-GB model.

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Wireless access in harsh weather
No matter the weather, you’ll be able to access your wireless network. Rugged technology solutions provider Symbol Technologies (which was recently bought by Motorola) now offers a wireless access point for harsh environments.

The company says its wireless access can withstand wind, rain, lightning, extreme temperatures and power surges. An optional heavy weather mounting kit is also available, which enables the device to withstand the impact of wind-blown debris at 130 miles an hour. The device is “mesh capable“, which means it creates outdoor wireless networks that can be managed remotely.

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