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CEBIT-2007: About not exactly phones and exactly not phones

Like we already wrote, there had been relatively few handsets at CeBIT 2007, but in return theyd brought tons of other fetching gadgets, as well as quirky devices along with interesting and useful trinkets.

Samsung went to the trouble of bringing to CEBIT most of its novelties and set up a number of stands with latest-and-greatest models of printers, multifunction devices, monitors etc., which cant be all crammed into a short review, though some units really pleasant me with very user-friendly interface. For example SyncMaster 940UX monitor: at a glance there is nothing special about it, yet closer examination reveals that it connects to USB port, doesnt require a graphics card and on successful connection automatically uploads own driver into PC. The good news for everyone dragging along a sub-notebook or mobile PC, but the question is, will mediocre CPUs of mobile devices cope with virtual graphics card? Anyhow this approach seems promising, and CPUs arent something we should worry about, as their power is rapidly growing.

The most craved object presented on the stand so-called UMPC (Ultra-Mobile PC) Q1 Ultra. An interesting device which I was really excited to play around with. Its a shame, though, that there were only about 10 of them available, hence I had to wait for my turn for quite a while. We could say much about its cutting edge, but you better take a look at the specifications below. The strengths are feature-pack and do-it-all functionality, as buying some relevant accessories, this mobile PC can be morphed into a full-fledged office or home station.

The first thing that grabs your eyes is a 7-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 1024x600 pixels, which makes for great web-browsing experience. Other specs are available in the table. The QWERTY-keyboard (to be more specific, buttons) tailored to big fingers is quite adequate, though for long usage sessions you will definitely have to get a full-size or at least folding Bluetooth-keyboard. The Q1 fits in hands comfortably, but its letdown was being grease-prone. Also, the 1,3 Mpix camera was a major disappointment on such a classy offering something like this looks like an omission. To ensure that this UMPC will cut into any network, you will have to buy a CF-card with EDGE/GPRS modem, which isnt a very good thing. The claimed 3.5 hours of battery life are obviously too little for a mobile PC, luckily the list of available accessories features more capacious battery (up to 7 hours of lifetime). Finally, the Q1 will hardly come in at less than 1500 USD for the basic pack, and with all accessories and peripherals included, it will well make up 2000 USD.

The LED pocket projector is an offbeat device that will perfectly fit presentations in field conditions, or the role of a monitor if you are using a mobile PC. With all portability of this gadget, Samsung slightly overdid with pocket word there are few pockets that will be able to hold such gadget. However it wont take much room in a bag.

Light, compact, durable it has it all. But there is a price to pay, as the light flux emitted is acceptable only in the dark, while it lacks focus to be comfortably used as a monitor. Obviously, this is a niche-product, albeit able and capable of finding its own target audience. The projector was demonstrated in a dark room, where video beamed onto a ~2x1 m screen looks acceptable. The same trick (separated dark room) was used by Sharp for the showcase of LCD HDTV monitor.

The Chinese and Taiwanese computer manufacturers are starting to be tough competition to the known makers on the European markets a tad worse ergonomics and display at a more affordable price. A notebook-transformer with touchscreen Flybook V5 looks nice, and comes equipped with more than competent spec sheet. However even a glimpse of the device showed that there were a couple of shortcomings: insufficiently bright display matrix, tiny keyboard and sloppy feel of the buttons. We were also slightly confused by the fact that neither the vendors official page nor the printed press-release contained such aspect as battery life, while for a pocketable PC this is vital. Nevertheless it is brimming with connectivity options, including mobile voice mail: HSDPA, UMTS, EDGE/GPRS, GSM.

Speaking of computers, we cant overlook Sonys vision of a home PC the system unit comes integrated with monitor, while the keyboard is armed with detachable cover (for the sake of protection from dust? At home?). Original design, make no mistake about that; but inserting CD/DVD into barely visible slot on the monitors side is not very convenient. However out of the ordinary form-factor and ability to free some space in the room make for some tolerance.

Stratsys showcased so-called 3D-printer: a device that can forge a 3D detail according to a sketch made on PC. All details come out made of acrylonitrile-butadiene-sterol and are solid enough to be assembled into something that will actually work. Though printing a 3D object takes several hours, but thats not all such devices have hefty price tags: 20000 USD and more.

BlackBerry created in 1999 and not implemented yet system of mail and other kinds of content delivery to a special recipients mobile device. Push-email comes in handy especially for enterprise users, which is why it has spread all over the world. User base by the end of 2006 about 7 millions. The system includes BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) software kit for sending push-email and special mobile phones of recipients. More than a year ago MTS were thoroughly looking into adoption of BlackBerry in the domestic network, but ultimately they rejected this project. The rumor has it that in Russia they still havent managed to put BlackBerry through the authorities. The problem is that the whole BlackBerry-traffic between server and cellular phone is encoded via Triple DES or AES protocols, which makes for more challenging real-time processing by the law enforcement.

In Toshibas booth we finally managed to see and even touch devices that actually do work on fuel cells, however their specs life much to be desired, just as size, though. As a result, such notebook turns out to be twice as thick compared to its serial counterpart, running on a standard battery.

Bluetooth-headset with fuel cell inside made us cry after looking at its size and design (if it was some kind of design even) apparently, it is not tomorrow when we are going to see commercial units. The fuel used there is methyl alcohol, rather than ethyl alcohol, making this technology hardly promising for the Russian market.

The small thing we have always wanted to have in pocket or in a bag, but never had a chance to get it. A tiny charger powered by a single AA battery that allows giving your handset some power when it has depleted its own at the very wrong moment. As the developers claim, one battery ensures two hours of talk time. And while similar offerings have been around for quite a while, this very model makes a statement with its minimalist design.

Combotronics deals with universal UPS. The main unit here is smaller and lighter than an average notebooks power module and is armed with four replaceable plugs the best thing you might happen to have during trips to different countries. Using a special branch you can charge three portable gadgets at a time, be it a notebook, game console, DVD player, you name it. Over 100 additional plugs are available to ensure compatibility with handsets by different manufacturers, while for cam coders, printers, etc. there is a mini DC-converter. Extras include a rechargeable 2000 mAh battery that can be used to charge up a handsets cell. No doubt, it is not a technological marvel, but I would really love to get rid of a ton of various chargers that I always have to put in my traveling bag.

An interesting variation of hands-free set for lucky car owners. It pairs up with your handset via Bluetooth and boasts a major advantage over standard units there is no need in looking away from the road to figure out who is calling anymore. On inbound call the device gets the callers name from the contact list and reads it aloud, when receiving a call from an unidentified contact, it just reads out the number itself.

Sergey Potresov (sergey.potresov@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Oleg Kononosov (oleg.kononosov@mobile-review.com)

Published — 30 March 2007

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