•Teens and the wireless frontier
Will teenagers be the demographic that takes wirelessness to the next level? I am wondering after reading articles from several cutting-edge tech periodicals. No one has come out and explicitly said so, but the group is crucial to many IT companies' plans.
Wired reports that Sony will offer a gaming device with a wireless LAN.
TOKYO -- Sony said Tuesday its new handheld PlayStation console would be equipped with a wireless network system which allows users within a close area to play games together and download game characters.
Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony's game unit, mapped out technical details of the upcoming "PSP" handheld platform, which will compete head-to-head with Nintendo's dominant Game Boy Advance handheld console.
This innovation will occur while most adults are still very wired, despite the promises of WiFi, Bluetooth and IR. The highlight of transferability for most of us is still bouncing our virtual business cards from one Palm PDA to another.
Meanwhile, Business 2.0, a magazine I read regularly and recommend, devoted its current cover to the wireless revolution. But not to WiFi. How can one wax wisely about going wireless while not saying much about 802.11b and its kin? Easily. The editors of B2.0 believe the wireless revolution will be dominated by cell phones, not PDAs or laptops. They say many more consumers need or want telephone communications than desire pure data functionality.
The major content seller among new IT products in the wireless market is ringtones -- the sounds you can choose to have emanate from your cell phone when someone calls. A major demographic of purchasers of ringtones is adolescents.
To have some of your preconceptions challenged, read this month's print edition or online cover story for Business 2.0. The magazine's website is also a place you may want to visit or bookmark.
•The Cube stylishly soldiers on
Too many older computers wind up landfills, but Macs disproportionately keep on keepin' on. Among the most sought after of legacy Macintoshes is the Cube.
Though discontinued two years ago, Apple's Power Mac G4 Cube commands a strong -- almost fanatical -- following. Used Cubes fetch premium prices on eBay, there's a thriving trade in aftermarket upgrades, and dedicated owners are going to extreme lengths to keep their much-loved machines current.
New processor upgrades for the Cube may soon make it one of the fastest G4 Macs on the market, and a computer boutique specializing in high-design technology has just started selling a line of upgraded Cubes to its well-heeled customers.
"It was derided and abandoned, and yet here are thousands and thousands of users who say this is the greatest thing (Apple) ever did," said Laurie Duncan, who runs the popular CubeOwner website. "It's a thing of beauty. People are holding onto them for dear life."
The Cube was a victim of poor sells despite its award-winning design. When it debuted in 2000 the market had never seen anything like it. I remember coveting a Cube desperately though I was 'off' desktop computers by then. However, the equally striking and lower-priced current design iMac may have stolen some of its thunder and potential purchasers.
The latest selling point for the Cube is its processor can now be upgraded to make it one of the fastest Macs available.
Kemplar, an online computer boutique that sells sleek sub-notebooks, fancy cell phones and other trendy devices, has just started selling a line of upgraded Cubes.
Equipped with a 1.2-GHz G4 chip, a CD-RW, an Nvidia GeForce 3 video card, 1 GB of RAM and a 120-GB hard drive, the $2,000 machines are selling at a brisk pace.
"The response has been astounding," said Sage Waters, Kemplar.com's director of sales. "People are interested in the Cube because it's the Cube. It's the only computer people are interested in buying because of its design alone. But you have to upgrade it to keep it going."
A larger case for upgraded Cubes, allowing more air circulation, will also soon be available.
I suspect the Cube, like other well-designed Mac products, will have an extended life without Cupertino's support.
•Virtual keyboard will rely on light
The main reason many of us favor laptops over smaller devices is that we refuse to give up fully functional keyboards for less weight. A solution favoring PDAs and other small devices is just around the corner.
The Canesta keyboard essentially gets rid of the hardware part of the equation. The chipset consists of three basic parts: a light source that beams a blanket of infrared energy onto a surface, a sensor that tracks finger movements, and a pattern projector that displays an image of a QWERTY keyboard in red.
The sensor, the key part of the equation, pinpoints where the light is reflected. It then transmits data about where reflective surfaces (the back of your fingers) move and stop. The processor then translates this into keystrokes.
The virtual keyboard is usable on just about any flat surface. Canesta says its chipsets will be available next year. Competitors are also perfecting their versions of the virtual keyboard.