is a wide range of products
best new technology
by Alan Zisman (c) 2001
First published in Business in
Issue #634, December 18-24, 2001: GearGuide column
t's the time
of year for looking back, so here are Gear guide's best and the worst
It was a year
when many business and home consumers decided it was time to get off
upgrade treadmill. Despite the slowdown, Apple
Computers remained profitable and produced the most-improved
best computers of the year with its two notebook lines.
G4 is perhaps the computer on the market with the highest drool factor,
from its titanium-metal body to its extra-wide 15" screen: just right
watching DVD movies. Its high-end pricing ($3,700-$5,000) keeps it out
of the mass-market, however.
newly redesigned, is now more conventional, sporting a clean, ice-white
appearance that makes it look like the Titanium Powerbook's younger
(about $2,000). It's light on weight and size, but long on battery-life
and connection features making it a good choice for the majority who
really need the G4's extra graphics power. And yes, it is
to live without Windows.
that, fittingly, were first popularized by Apple, spread to the wider
universe this year. Both are officially known by awkward numerical
but have gained more user-friendly nicknames.
(also known by Apple users as Airport, and by everyone else as WiFi) is
a standard for wireless Internet connections and networking. This year,
it started showing up in homes and offices, hotels, convention centres
and selected Starbucks outlets. Increasingly affordable
from companies such as LinkSys,
dLink, 3Com, Intel and even
work well together.
to as Firewire by Apple, iLink by Sony
and 1394 by everybody else) is a way to connect gadgets to computers at
some 40 times faster than the more commonplace USB. That makes it
for connecting digital camcorders and increasingly popular for
external drives, music players and more. While it's built into Apple
Sony computers, it's still an optional add-on for others, but it is
worth adding on.
for the rest of us
please.... Without further ado, the winner is Adobe
Photoshop Elements. Its big brother Photoshop has long been the
standard for graphics professionals, but sports a professional price
a professional-sized learning-curve.
delivers 80 per cent of the power (more than most of us will ever need)
for about 20 per cent of the price (about $160) and adds in some nice
(like easily creating panoramic images) that are hard to do in the
edition. For Mac and Windows.
Worst of the
gadgets: This year, you could buy Internet-enabled radios and
and dedicated mini-computers. But hardly anyone did, costing a lot of
that should have known better a lot of money.
on cell phones: Similarly, the major cell networks offered Web
on their digital phones. Even though the pages displayed were
to fit on tiny screens, the need to download a new page every few lines
and the awkwardness of entering text and navigating using a phone
made this a non-contender.
that's least sure where it's going: Palm wins hands-down. Though
handhelds still account for the bulk of the so-called "personal digital
assistant" market, Palm seems to have lost its vision, in the face of
competition from (surprise!) Microsoft.