Top 50 products 2004

Von Sean Bacher

It is that time of the year again, time to start making your Christmas wish lists and we have some great ideas. Below, in no particular order, are the top 50 products reviewed during 2004...

1. Nokia Corp. SU-5 Image Viewer

Now users with camera phones can quickly and easily display pictures on their television sets, either by plugging their phone into the cradle, or merely pairing it with the device via Bluetooth. Then it is just a matter of sitting back with the remote control, and scrolling through your fond memories.

2. Nokia BT250 Headset

Give the Metro police the finger as you drive past them talking on your cellphone. Obviously you will be talking through the Nokia BT250 headset, which is compatible with any Bluetooth-enabled cellphone. An additional advantage is you do not even need to have the cellphone anywhere near you, as you can answer and make calls directly from the headset.

3. Logitech Laser Tracking Mouse

Mouse balls are for the birds, optical mouses are not that accurate, and do not work on every surface type. Well at last there is a solution from Logitech Inc.

According to the company, the laser mouse is far more accurate than an optical equivalent, and even works on any surface, just a pity that the price is so much more.

4. Anextek Global Inc."s SP230 Smartphone

A PDA and cellphone in one device. In my opinion, one of the greatest developments since the cellphone. Granted it is a little bigger than a standard cellphone, but just think of the possibilities it offers - a calendar, contact database and Web browser, and all in one snug device. The SP230 lets users dial directly from the touch screen, or they can use the included keypad if they do not want to get smudgy prints all over the screen.

5. Acer TM8005 notebook

The Acer Inc. boasts all users could want in a notebook, from an Intel Corp. Dothan-core Pentium M chip, 512MB RAM and an 80GB hard disk drive. Not to mention the SmartCard slot for additional security, and Bluetooth and wireless connectivity. There is also an Ethernet adaptor, modem, Fire-Wire port and USB port to connect all those additional peripherals that may be found useful.

6. Sun Project Looking Glass

At last we have an alternative to those boring old 2D operating systems. Sun Microsystems Inc."s Project Looking Glass installs on top of the Java Desktop Operating System and gives a whole new meaning to a desktop. It gives the feeling of sitting inside a ball, having a desktop all around you. Use the mouse to circumnavigate the desktop, and just pick the open windows you want. Imagine Minority Report, only better.

7. Siemens AG Gigaset SL150

Users will think that the Gigaset 150 looks rather like a cellphone when they first see it. It is just as small, contains a phone book, and even has a colour display. The best part, however, is that users do not have to have a clunky receiver spoiling their designer lounge, as all that is hidden away behind some cupboard. All that will be seen is a stylish cradle which doubles up as a charger.

8. Nokia Digital Pen

When paired with a compatible phone, the Nokia Digital Pen allows colourful handwritten MMS messages to be sent to a compatible phone or e-mail address.

9. Acer AL1921 LCD

Slim and sexy - what more could you possibly want from your woma... I mean LCD. Rig it up to your computer, switch it on, and you will be the talk of the office. It features stereo speakers, a multi-language on-screen display, and a viewing angle of 170 degrees, both horizontally and vertically.

10. Motorola V80

In the past year or so you might remember Motorola Inc."s first swivel phone, the V70. Well, in my opinion, the V70 had a rubbish display, and users had to have twiddly-fingers in order to push the buttons. Think of the V80 as a vast improvement, its display is vibrant and clearly visible, and its keypad is better laid out. Just one problem, why does Motorola still have the answer and reject buttons switched around?

11. Epson Stylus Pro 4000

The Epson Stylus Pro 4000 produces photo-quality output at high speed, courtesy of a large colour gamut, excellent colour stability and flexible media handling. The Pro 4000 features Epson MicroPiezo technology, Ultrachrome inks and A2 format capability. The Pro 4000 printer offers designer quality and reliability to professional printers, photographers and artists.

12. DreamWeaver MX 2004

Creating your own Web site has never been easier than with DreamWeaver from Macromedia Inc. The workspace is neatly laid out with all the tools users will ever need right at their fingertips. And for those novices out there, there is a full context-sensitive help section, which starts off with the basics, and moves all the way up to creating online secure forms.

13. DLink Corp."s DBT 120

If your computer does not already have a Bluetooth interface, do not worry. Simply plug this into a free USB port, install the drivers, and in no time you will have Bluetooth connectivity on your PC. You can now synchronise your calendar, contacts and tasks with your PDA - sans cables.

14. Archos Gmini 400

The Archos Inc. Gmini 400 is able to play MP3s, WAVs and WMAs. But, with the added bonus of video playback, this makes it amongst the most compelling "I want it" items this year. The Gmini can play video and stream directly to a PC or TV without any fuss at all. Starting off at 15GB, the Archos Gmini is a wonderful alternative to Apple"s iPod, because it incorporates so much more functionality for the same price.

15. Archos AV400

The AV400 is Archos" top-of-the-range device that tops out at 80GB. It incorporates all the features of the Gmini 400, but has advanced playback options and is able to record directly from a satellite or TV feed in a mode of the users" choice (DVD quality to compressed TV quality).

16. Motorola MPx220

Motorola"s MPx220 or Smartphone runs on Microsoft"s Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, includes an integrated 1.23 Megapixel camera, Bluetooth wireless technology, and even features quad-band connectivity, meaning that it can be used in practically any country. The phone features 64MB built-in RAM, as well as an SD slot for back-ups, handy if you are prone to losing your phone. One of the best features however, is that you can synchronise your contacts, tasks and calendar appointments with your PC via the USB port.

17. Nokia 9500

At long last Nokia has upgraded its previous communicator range with the Nokia 9500. Overall the chassis looks far more appealing, there are not as many sharp corners and the tactile feedback from the QWERTY keyboard is that much better. It uses a colour display, comes standard with 80MB of internal memory, and even features an 802.11b wireless interface. The features do not stop there, however, as the phone even includes a VGA camera for those once in a lifetime photo opportunities.

18. Jabra BT250

Enjoy endless hours of chatting away with the Jabra Inc. BT250 Bluetooth headset. According to the company it offers up to eight hours of talk time and an astonishing 240 hours of talk time. It uses a ?one-touch multi-function button", which lets users make and receive calls without even touching their phones, and Jabra claims it is compatible with all Bluetooth-enabled cellphones.

19. Brightstor r11.1

Computer Associates International Inc."s BrightStor r11.1 is a new generation of intelligent storage management solutions that aims to enable enterprises to rigorously safeguard their corporate data assets with greater cost-efficiency. The BrightStor r11.1 software family aligns storage strategies with business objectives, helping to ensure the integrity and reliability of data protection across the enterprise.

20. Microsoft Corp."s optical desktop with fingerprint reader

Remembering all the passwords to access different sites can sometime be a bit of a pain. There are numerous solutions to the debacle, like using the same username and password for each site. However, when a computer generates a random alpha-numeric password, it is almost impossible to remember. Well Microsoft has a solution, and it comes in the form of an incorporated fingerprint reader in its optical desktop. It is really easy to use, when users logon to a password-protected site, they simply need to enter their username and password into the password manager dialogue box, scan their fingers and "bob"s your uncle". In future, every time users need access to the site, they simply need to depress their finger on the scanner, and their username and password will automatically be entered.

21. PlayStation Singstar

Have a great party by having your own karaoke evening. Simply plug the microphones into your PlayStation 2, slip in the CD and sing away. You can sing solo, do the duet thing, or even battle it out.

22. Mortal Kombat - Deception

Punch, kick, and quite literally beat the hell out of each other - through your PlayStation of course. The graphics are realistic, sound is great, and, overall, it is just a great game that will provide hours of fun.

23. Palm Zire 72

This PDA uses the PalmOS, sports a 320 X 320, 65 000-colour TFT display and a 1,2Megapixel camera. Because it has an integrated Bluetooth interface, it is able to pair with any Bluetooth-enabled cellphone. What is more, users can dial directly from the PDA, and even connect to the Internet via the paired cellphone.

24. Palm Treo 600

The Treo 600 combines phone, e-mail, messaging and Internet with a built-in camera and one-handed navigation, so it is easier than ever to get things done on the road. The real beauty? It is the size of a mobile phone.

25. Microsoft Starck Mouse

Microsoft and Philippe Starck, an interior and industrial designer, recently partnered, with the intention of designing computer peripherals with a difference. One such device is the Starck mouse, it is really quite a basic mouse, but looks good.

26. Logitech Z-5300 speakers

The Z-5300 speakers include a dual chamber subwoofer that delivers a deep, loud and powerful bass, four aluminium phase plug satellite drivers, and a centre speaker that projects high-end and mid-range tones for a balanced sound stage. The Z-5300 can be plugged-in to a Sony PlayStation, Microsoft X-box or Nintendo GameCube, and even comes with a wired remote control.

27. Iomega CD writer with 7-in-1 card reader

With this external CD writer you will never have to clear space off your computer"s hard drive before transferring images from your digital camera. Simply stick the memory stick from your digital camera into the drive, insert a blank CD and burn the images straight to disk. Oh yes, do not worry about your card not fitting, as the Iomega Corp. accepts seven different memory formats from Compact Flash to the Sony Memory Stick.

28. Garmin StreetPilot 2610

Mapbooks are clumsy and absolutely useless when it comes to finding one"s way in the dark. Well the StreetPilot 2610 is perfect for navigating in the dark. Come to think of it, it is perfect for navigating any time of day. Just input the destination address and leave the rest up to the navigator. It tells you where to turn, when to turn, and even recalculates the route should you turn the wrong way.

29. Toshiba Corp. Satellite P20 notebook

Yes, it is bulky and heavy, but once you open it up you will know why. It sports a 17-inch LCD, a 3GHz Pentium 4 processor, and 512MB of RAM, as well as a 60GB hard drive, and the mobile version of NVidia Corp."s GeForce FX 5200 graphics card. There are also 4 USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port and a TV-out port, and the P20 even has built-in Harmon Kardon speakers.

30. Sony Micro Vault

The new Sony Corp. Micro Vault with Fingerprint Access allows users to store and access private data, simply at the touch of their fingertips. It features file and folder encryption/decryption, ID password auto login and a screen saver lock.

31. Iomega MicroMini USB memory card

USB memory sticks can be found in all sorts of devices, from watches to credit cards. Iomega recently launched one that clips to the belt, is no bigger than a human thumb, and has interchangeable covers.

32. SanDisk Extreme III 1Gig Compact Flash Card

According to SanDisk Corp., its 1Gig compact flash card, also available in a MMC format, is one of the most popular mass storage devices. Use the SanDisk CompactFlash with a digital camera, digital music player, desktop computer, handheld PC, personal communicator, Palm PC, auto PC, digital voice recorder, and photo printer - the options are just endless, much like the storage space it processes.

33. Canon SmartBase MP 390 multi-functional printer

Canon Inc."s all in one is the perfect printer for both the office and home. It does not look much like an MFP, however, under the hood you will find all the makings of one. There is a 1 200 X 2 400 CCD, for good quality scans, it has an output of 12 pages per minute in colour and 18 pages per minute in black and white, and it connects to a computer via the faster USB 2.0 interface.

34. IBM Corp. ThinkPad T42

The T42p comes with an Intel Centrino Mobile processor, Microsoft Windows XP Professional, 1GB DDR RAM, a 60GB hard disk drive, 15" TFT, CD-RW/DVD-RW Multiburner, a 128MB ATI Fire GL T2 graphics card, a 56k modem, Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, not to mention 802.11b/g wireless and Bluetooth connectivity - enough said.

35. Canon MVX35i

The 2.2 Megapixel Canon MVX35i features a 10x optical zoom. Additionally, the MVX35i is capable of recording MPEG4 directly to a SD card for easy computer upload. It features a high resolution 16:9 mode, and real time streaming is available via both IEEE 1394 Firewire and USB 2.0 connectivity.

36. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. VP-D6050 Duocam

At last there is a two-in-one camera that does not cut any corners. The Duocam is a digital still camera sporting a 5,12Megapixel CCD with a 10X optical and 800X digital zoom. It is also a video camera, capable of recording video to a Mini-DV tape - much like any other camcorder. It also features a fast Firewire connector for quick transfer of footage to your computer.

37. Fujitsu Siemens Computers (Holding) BV Pocket Loox 720

It features an integrated camera, VoIP support and a VGA display. It also has numerous wireless options, such as Bluetooth, wireless LAN connectivity and infra-red, users are sure to stay in touch no matter where they are.

38. Epson EMP-TW200 projector

The EMP-TW200 is Epson"s mid-range home cinema projector. It features a contrast ratio of 800:1. Combined with a brightness level of 1 300 ANSI lumens, the new projector is an ideal solution for any home cinema enthusiast.

39. Fujitsu Siemens Lifebook T3010

The Lifebook T3010 makes users more productive in mobile situations, and defines a new way of mobile working: whether users are on their way to an appointment, giving a presentation or taking notes in a meeting. The ultimate freedom of choice - handwriting or keyboard.

40. Motorola V500

The Motorola V500 is the perfect mobile for posh professionals looking for a device that fits their business and after-hours needs. With a V500 you will not only impress your boss, but your friends too, to freely express your individuality while moving on up the corporate ladder. Built with quad-band connectivity and Bluetooth wireless technology capabilities, the Motorola V500 sports some of the latest technologies in a sexy chassis.

41. LG Electronics Inc. 7050 cellphone

At first it looks like any old cellphone. However, slide down the keypad and all will be revealed, as under the keypad is a large 65 000 colour LCD, perfect for viewing your snapshots, which can be taken with the integrated camera. The phone also features polyphonic ring tones, MMS and Java capabilities, as well as GPRS. It also allows for voice dialling.

42. Samsung X600

When the Samsung X600 was launched, it was said to be one of the first camera phones to come with a ?flash". However this ?flash" is more of a light than anything. The phone comes with a lithium-ion battery, and, according to Samsung, it can provide up to 230 hours in standby mode, and up to three hours of talk-time.

43. Packard Bell Easy Notes E3267

The E3267 includes an Athlon XP Mobile 2GHz chip, 512MB DDR RAM, a 40GB hard disk drive, DVD/DVD-RW Combo and a 32MB shared S3 ProSavage 8 graphics card. According to Packard-Bell, the unit weighs a mere 2,8kg, and comes standard with Windows XP Home Edition.

44. Transcend JetFlash MP3 player

The JetFlash supports USB 2.0 connectivity, and is available in capacities of 128MB, 256MB, 512MB and 1GB. It is basically a two in one device; a USB flash drive with MP3 capabilities. What is more, it records voice, and even has an integrated MP3 player.

45. Dell Latitude X300

The Dell Inc. Latitude X300 notebook uses an Intel 1,4GHz Pentium M Processor, and comes with 256MB RAM and a 20GB hard disk drive. It is portable and boasts all the creature comforts that users have come to expect on a notebook.

46. Hewlett-Packard Co. 707 digital camera

Snap away as much as you want with the HP 707. When the 32MB internal memory has been exhausted, users can always buy additional SD or MMC memory cards. The 707 uses a 5,3MP CCD, has a 3X optical zoom and an 8X digital zoom.

47. HP Photosmart 8153 Photo Printer

Print professional-quality photos and enjoy the convenience of direct printing and photo lab processing in the home. Front panel buttons and a built-in 6,4cm colour display allow advanced, in-printer photo editing.

48. Apple Copmputer Inc. iPod Mini

Music on the go. The iPod comes in numerous colours and has a belt clip and a set of headphones. It will work with either the users" PC or Macintosh, and connects via USB 2.0 or FireWire.

49. Logitech diNovo

The Logitech diNovo Cordless Desktop is the ideal keyboard and mouse solution for any PC. At your desk, the elegant, ultra-flat keyboard offers one-touch access to e-mail, the Internet, and other frequently used functions. A separate number pad and cordless optical mouse complete the design.

50. Iomega REV drive

With Iomega"s REV drives, users have an alternative to slow tape back-up. The REV drive uses 35GB removable REV disks, and is perfect for both server and desktop back-up.