This past January in Las Vegas, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) drew 130,000 people to what is essentially a candy store for gadget lovers. It was my 29th year in attendance.
The primary agenda of CES is to display new consumer products, but with the demise of Comdex last fall, CES has become the place where major vendors show off mobile business tools as well. For example, the major cell phone and PDA vendors, such as Samsung, Motorola, LG and palmOne, devoted a good portion of their booth space to promoting their business products. A quarter into the new year, a few of those mobile business products and services are still playing on my mind. Here are three of my favorites:
•Samsung’s Pocket Imager. If you have ever carried a portable projector with you on the road, you will be interested in this marvel of technology. Weighing in at around 2 pounds and measuring 4 by 6 by 2 inches, this is by far the smallest true video projector I have ever seen. It delivers images at resolutions of 800 by 600, with a light source of 35 lumens, and is optimized for projecting images in the 40- to 50-inch screen size.
While this may seem under-powered compared to larger models, consider again how small it is, and that it has a battery pack that lets you run the projector for two hours without plugging in. And if you are showing presentations around a table for only two or three people, you can simply shine this on the wall instead of forcing everyone to gather around your laptop screen. Back in your hotel room, you can now turn your hotel wall or ceiling into a 50-inch screen to watch DVDs. Price and date of shipping was not announced, but it should be on the market by mid-year.
•Orb Networks. This service could possibly replace your GoToMyPC program by delivering similar functionality and much more. Orb Networks has software that you load on your PC, which allows you to securely gain access to that PC through any Web browser—and with features that GoToMyPC cannot deliver. For example, if your PC has a TV tuner in it, as most Media Center models do, you can tap into any program on the TV that is live or recorded, and Orb Networks lets you access it on your PC, PDA and even cell phone. I have been testing the service for months, and on a recent trip to Amsterdam, I was able to watch live news from San Jose on my laptop, as well as movies I recorded through my Media Center’s PVR function. I also watched TV and movies on my iPAQ at Starbucks, via its Wi-Fi connection. While this service is aimed at a consumer audience, business users can use it to tap into training videos on their PC at work, while at home or on the road, as well as any other info—whether text, video or images—that’s both personal and business related. Service cost is $9.95 a month.
•NeatReceipts. Why did it take so long for someone to figure out something this practical? This scanner and software combination takes the hassle out of creating expense reports. Designed specifically for this purpose, the scanner/software package scans, reads and organizes receipts and then automatically transfers the data from your receipts into a custom expense-tracking report. You can then easily create a full expense report in PDF, Excel, Word or HTML formats and send it off to accounting for reimbursement. It weighs 12 ounces and is powered by your laptop or PC’s USB port. Retail price is $199.