By Piers Ford
The technologies, devices and gadgets that will make a big difference in our lives during the next year.
As 2008 draws rapidly to a close, now is a good time to look ahead at the technologies, devices and gadgets that will make a big difference in our professional and personal lives during the next year. Here are the objects of desire that we think should be on the discerning CIO’s order list as the gift-giving season gets under way.
Digital photo frames can be as simple or complicated as you like, but with its high-resolution screen (800x600) and discretely hidden, illuminated control buttons, this sleek 2GB model is a stylish accessory for the office or home environment.
It doubles as a video and MP3 player and also features a clock, alarm and calendar, so if you're mesmerised by the beauty of your own slide show - or just lost in music - a reminder of your schedule is never far away.
The USB 2.0 port makes photo imports quick and easy, the 7-inch frame supports JPEG and BMP photo formats, and you can tailor the transition effects in the slideshow, as well as video and audio capabilities, to your own taste.
Optoma's pocket-sized Pico claims to be the world's smallest and lightest projector. Highly portable, it enables large screen viewing from personal media players, mobile phones, PDAs, cameras and gaming devices. Weighing just 115 grams and a similar size to many mobile phones, the Pico offers 20,000 hours of lamp life, and features an integrated speaker and battery life of up to two hours.
The mini projector also enables all users to share images and videos from their media devices with a diagonal image size of up to 60 inches - as much as 100 times the size of the source device screen. The Pico is based on the advanced Digital Light Processing (DLP) chipset, providing the latest DLP technology and LED illumination. Clear, bright, high contrast images are guaranteed, according to creator Optoma.
CIOs with meeting-heavy schedules are always looking for alternatives to laborious note-taking. The Marlin SpyPen looks like an ordinary pen but is actually a hi-tech hidden digital video camera, complete with the world's smallest digital video recorder (DVR) and a super-sensitive hidden microphone.
Available in 2Gb and 4Gb models, it offers real-time recording in AVI video format. The device can then be connected to a standard USB 2.0 port of a PC, laptop, or any other kind of electronic equipment for easy playback.
The full-colour digital video recorder features Read/Write speeds of 900K/700K/second and - with a resolution of 300k pixels - lets you see the person being recorded very clearly. At the same time, the SpyPen's microphone can record across distances of over 15 feet, so that you can hear all of the conversation.
There are no drivers to install, and no bulky A/C power supply, as the device is charged via the USB port. And with a built-in, high volume rechargeable lithium battery, the SpyPen can work for up to two hours on a single charge. PICO Freedom
Data security is one of the biggest headaches for the modern CIO and IT manager, and the requirement for portable, easy-to-use encryption devices has never been greater. Stonewood Group's Eclypt PICO Freedom is the ultimate in high-tech gadgetry: a fully encrypted and portable USB stick fit for James Bond's eyes only and offering the most advanced encryption technology available.
It safeguards data by integrating sophisticated, entire disk encryption and data storage into tamper-proof hardware so the data is protected at rest, even if the device is stolen or lost. Features include 256-bit AES encryption, mandatory encryption of all files, password authentication and lockdown after a single incorrect password attempt.
The memory stick also offers fast transfer speeds: 24MB/second for reading and 20MB/second for writing. It comes with the option of the PICO Console Centralised Management software.
Network attached storage (NAS) is no longer the sole preserve of the large enterprise. These days, the security and efficiency benefits of NAS can be brought right to the desktop in businesses of every size. The ReadyNAS Pro is a powerful addition to the ReadyNAS product family.
Designed for small and medium businesses, workgroups and home offices, it delivers class-leading performance, ease of use, and robust features in a desktop small form factor chassis supporting 6 SATA channels and up to 6TB of storage.
This six bay gigabit network attached storage (NAS) appliance is packed with high-end server features, including RAID (redundant array of independent disks) levels 0, 1, 5, 6, and Auto-Expandable X-RAID2 support for data protection against disk failure, system monitoring capabilities and built-in backup. To ensure high availability to stored data, the ReadyNAS Pro features dual redundant Gigabit Ethernet ports for failover protection in the event of an incident.
Coming soon to the region and one to watch out for in 2009, the Sanctuary is a one-stop gadget charging device hidden inside a smart desk and personal organiser.
The Sanctuary contains a universal charger compatible with every portable gadget in existence from iPods, PDAs, mobile phones and any other device that we use on a daily basis. It is also a refuge for personal items such as wallets, watches and keys which reduces clutter in the office and home.
Users can charge their mobile phones, iPod, game console and PDA simultaneously in one compact location. The Sanctuary is compatible with over 1,500 electronic devices from over 35 brands and hundreds more via its mini USB port, with no need to purchase additional tips and connectors. It's as suitable for the office desk as it is for the hotel room or the bedside table. SanDisk Extreme Cruzer Contour USB Flash Drive
USB drives are no longer simply about storage. They give the demanding CIO instant access to their own customised world of entertainment and information. Imagine being able to carry around more than 38,000 images, 4,000 songs or 5,000 video clips in your pocket for less than $100.
The 16GB SanDisk Extreme Cruzer Contour USB flash drive will give you just that, according to the manufacturer, combining rugged, bold design - including an elegant sliding USB connector that retracts into the body and eliminates the need for caps - with ultrafast performance, higher capacities and easy U3 application portability.
U3 is a mobile computing platform that allows you to carry your applications on a USB drive and launch them on any PC. So wherever you go -your office or home, an internet café or business centre - you can take your favourite software as well as your data files.
Buffalo MiniStation Pro
You can never have too much security and with data loss a major issue for enterprises of every size, CIOs are constantly caught between the need to protect data while making it available and portable to decision-makers and colleagues who need constant access. Transporting important files securely between meetings, offices and home is an ever-present demand.
The MiniStation Pro offers IT managers secure data storage in a 2.5-inch portable hard drive with full automatic hardware encryption. The increased security teamed with the portability of the drive will allow CIOs to confidently travel with large amounts of sensitive company data. Files are secured with AES 128bit encryption, requiring an individual password to gain access.
Secure keyboard, video and mouse (KVM) server management for IP networks is becoming an important issue for IT managers as IP beds down in the enterprise.
The SecureLinx Spider is a flexible, scalable and cost-effective CAT5-based remote access KVM solution with a ‘zero' footprint, ideal for remotely managing geographically distributed IT equipment.
It eliminates server-to-switch CAT5 cable distance limitations and gives system managers round the clock access to mission critical servers in a variety of network environments such as data centres, campuses, multi-floor buildings and laboratories.
Spider claims top-class security and a very low cost-per-remote-user: the kit requires no client software or external power supply.