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Sun 30 Mar 2008 04:00 AM

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Inspecting gadgets

ACN rounds up the latest and greatest executive gadgets, from designer mobiles to business toys masquerading as consumer.

ACN rounds up the latest and greatest executive gadgets, from designer mobiles to business toys masquerading as consumer.

Acer Aspire 2920

It's difficult to work out if Acer is going for the consumer or the business market with this sub-notebook offering.

While the design is sleek and black on the outside, the odd off-white colour and retro look of the inside is more like a V-Tech toy than a serious piece of computing technology.

At 2kg, the notebook only just fits in to the sub-category and has a lot of multi-media features that seem to be aimed at the consumer market, such as Dolby Home Theatre Virtual Surround Sound and the Acer Arcade entertainment suite, which integrates Acer CinemaVision and ClearVision, aimed at minimsing picture distortion.

On the other hand, the notebook also has IP-based communication in the form of Acer Videoconference for voice and video over IP and a CMOS webcam at the top of the display, features that could be very useful to business users.

With 2Gbytes of RAM (which is definitely needed given that it comes with Windows Vista) and a range of hard drive sizes that goes up to 320Gbytes, there is enough storage to please business and consumer alike and the laptop is one of the few in the sub-notebook range that carries a DVD drive.

Consider as well that this machine is selling for US$1497 (320Gbyte) in the Middle East and it seems like this is a consumer vehicle after all.

However, given its more than decent specs and with the swift removal of Windows Vista Home Premium Edition for a more business friendly OS, this would make an affordable and jam-packed addition to the sub-notebook range for the business user.

Samsung Giorgio Armani

The latest in a short line of label-endorsed mobile phones, Samsung's Giorgio Armani-badged handset was unleashed last month.

Tapping into the latest trend for touch-screen devices, Samsung and Armani have produced a very compact handset, evidently designed for fashionistas who see gadgets such as the iPhone as just a bit too bulky.

Unfortunately, reports suggest that the compact size translates into a requirement for compact fingers - bulky executive man-digits may struggle. There's no argument though that the phone's interface - styled in cream and brown - does look good.

In terms of specs, the Armani phone is fairly basic - no 3G and no Wi-Fi. It does come with obligatory camera and MP3 player functions, though - for what they're worth.

The phone certainly lives up to the name in the style department, but let's hope users don't suffer from some of the other interface problems: raising your swish Armani phone to your ear, only to end the call inadvertently using your earlobe, is definitely a social faux pas.
Creative Zen Stone+

Ok, so hear us out on this one - yes, it's a consumer MP3 player; no, it's not an Apple; and no, there's no new advanced technology involved.

The Creative Zen Stone+ is in fact a fairly unremarkable music player in many respects - a part of Creative's Zen range of relatively popular (possibly) low-cost (definitely) portable music players.

Packing 2Gbytes of flash memory and able to cope with most popular music formats - MP3, WMA, OGG and unprotected Apple AAC - the Zen Stone+ ticks most of the basic boxes for a modern MP3 player.

What makes it potentially quite interesting is the feature that merits the '+' - a built-in speaker. This, combined with a voice recorder and the Stone+'s curvaceous looks, could turn an innocuous MP3 player into a useful corporate gadget.

Instead of turning up at meetings with stylistically-deficient dictaphones and voice memo sticks, the modern executive could cut a dash with the Stone+, in one of its various shades chosen to match the suit of the day.

Not only can you record your meetings or pearls of wisdom, you can also play them back to an assembled company without messing around with cables and amplifiers, thanks to the integrated "room-shaking" speaker.

And should the meeting be unimpressed by your audio presentation, you can get your own back by putting on some Prodigy.

Asus M930

Expected to begin shipping this month, the Asus M930 appears to be a Nokia E90 Communicator imitation, with Windows Mobile 6 as its operating system (OS).

But that's Windows Mobile 6 Standard, not Professional, so there's no touchscreen action, perhaps a serious error given the fanboy zeal for the touchscreen revolution.

However, it does provide a substitute for those who like the E90, but want a Windows OS (we won't speculate on why they would) and also featuresAsus' own business functions - iCam, ClearVue Document Viewer, Remote Presenter, Voice Recognition and Network Auto Configuration.

Asus have mirrored the E90's double screen design with an external 2 inch LCD screen, but a disappointingly small internal screen of just 2.6 inches, which isn't much bigger, particularly given the space they had to play with (see picture). The clamshell design, again like the E90, allows for a QWERTY keyboard of decent size inside.

The phone supports GPRS, EDGE, WCDMA, HSDPA, Bluetooth 2.0 and Wi-Fi on the connectivity front and also has USB 2.0.

Memory is at 256Mbyte Flash and 64 Mbyte SDRAM, with the usual possibility of adding a MicroSD card for extra capacity.

The specs are relatively decent but with a standard OS, only 2 Megapixel camera and bricklike dimensions only slightly smaller than the E90, this is by no means a product which is going to take over the Communicator's market.

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