April 27, 2006

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If they mated
Get more fun from fewer toys
By John “jaQ” Andrews  jandrews@hippopress.com

Items with more than one purpose aren’t new.

Swiss army knives pack a dozen tools into a handy, pocketable package. Printers and scanners merged with fax machines to enable copying in a cheap desktop device. Stretch the definition a bit and you have plenty of transportation machines integrated with personal high-fidelity audio theaters on our roadways.

The sheer number of high-tech multifunction devices is just going up and up. And they’re getting closer and closer to the Swiss army knife in size. If you’re suffering gadget overload (symptoms include AC adapter clutter and man-purse wearing), you may want to look into consolidating.

• HP iPAQ hw6515 (MSRP: $649) The handheld computer started out as little more than a glorified address book, itself little more than a glorified pad of paper. Oh, how far they have come. This Pocket PC still lets you keep track of contacts and appointments, but like many modern handhelds, it also plays music and video, browses the Web, sends and receives e-mail and can edit office documents. Unlike cheaper handhelds, the hw6515 has a full keyboard, Secure Digital memory slot, 1.3-megapixel digital camera and GPS receiver. It also functions as a phone on most major mobile carriers; for $50 less you can buy one that’s locked into Cingular as a provider.

To use the GPS receiver, you’ll need to download extra software. Microsoft Pocket Streets is free to download when you buy this gadget. So why not just include it in the package? By making you go to a download page, HP can hawk its more feature-packed navigation software for $129.

• Creative Zen Vision (MSRP: $399.99) Think of this as an iPod on crack. Billed as a media player, the 30GB Vision is made for storing and playing digital music, but its 3.7” screen belies its photo- and movie-viewing capabilities. The screen is much bigger than a video iPod’s and has a resolution of 640 x 480 — the same as the lowest resolution Windows supports on desktops and laptops. There’s also an included AV cable for watching your stored movies on any TV.

Like the iPod, the Zen Vision also has some personal organizer functionality, such as a calendar, contacts and to-do list. It lacks the iPod’s games and a clock, but makes up for that with a voice recorder, FM radio tuner, radio recorder and CompactFlash slot for transferring pictures directly from your camera. An optional adapter accepts other types of flash memory.

For $100 less, the newer Zen Vision:M lacks the memory slot and has a smaller screen.


Comments? Thoughts? Discuss these articles and more at hippoflea.com

04/27/2006 Apples to apples
04/20/2006 Flash uber-drives
04/13/2006 Web site, by you
04/06/2006 Ayyy, jaQ's right!
03/30/2006 Choose wirelessly
03/23/2006 Tax programs cometh
03/16/2006 And the Spammie goes to...
03/09/2006 Take in the Vista
03/02/2006 Cheap moviemaking
02/23/2006 Go directly to iJail
02/16/2006 Will you stamp your e-mail?
02/09/2006 War of the machines
02/02/2006 Faster than a speeding packet

01/26/2006 Free software made simple
01/19/2006 The Worst of CES
01/12/2006 Radio you
01/05/2006 Making Movies
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