ACN rounds up the latest and greatest executive gadgets, from the latest eight megapixel snapper to the newest network storage units
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Will the flood of touchscreen phones never end? Two years ago we'd never heard of the blighters and now we're up to our armpits in them, with each vendor promising that we'll touch their products in new and excitingly different ways. Oh thank you, Lord Steve, for the wondrous bounty that you have bestowed upon us or as we like to call it, the gift that keeps on giving.
What can we make then, of this latest device from aspiring mobile giants LG? Well, it's got a three-inch display with 8GB of memory and a five autofocus megapixel camera on the back that boasts a lens from some outfit called Schneider Kreuznach. The screen's probably the most interesting bit - at 800x480, it's got considerably more pixels than competitors from Apple and Samsung, which help in overall readability. Increasing overall resolution is where all vendors will go eventually, unless you want to go back to the era of Nokia Communicator-style bricks.
The multimedia functionality isn't anything out of the ordinary with the Arena being able to play most formats including the often tricky H.264 video files. A bonus is the FM transmitter, which allows you to stream audio to a home audio or car stereo system and isn't a feature that's commonly included (although we hear rumours that Apple is considering its inclusion in the next iPhone).
What LG is really pushing with the Arena is its new "S-Class" user interface which uses a 3D metaphor for interaction - so you can choose options on a ‘floating' cube, or slide along a film strip. From the early demos, it looks promising, but as always with phones of this type, your mileage with the production version may vary.
Nokia N86 8MP
If there's one thing people love more than touchscreens, its megapixels - lots and lots of them. If anyone can remember back to the dark days of 2002, VGA was the best these devices could do and nobody seemed unduly perturbed.
Today, you aren't really in the game unless you've got at least five megapixels under your belt. Nokia must be feeling pretty pleased with the eight megapixel N86 - that is, until Samsung and Sony Ericsson announced their shiny new 12 megapixel snappers.
It's not the end of the world, because the N86 is still a very good camera phone with its superfast Carl Zeiss lens. Video recording is also available at 30 frames per second and while not quite DVD-quality at 640x480 resolution, it's still very decent for a mobile handset. About the only drawback we can think of for the N86 camera-wise is that it doesn't have a Xenon flash on-board and has to make do with twin LEDs, which won't really do in a dark area of any sort.
The rest of the feature set of the N86 tends to follow most of the N-Series playbook - excellent multimedia functionality, GPS, a decent range of business apps available through the Symbian platform on which the phone is based and even the latest and greatest in N-Gage games.
But as a business phone, it's no match for other members of the Nokia range like the E71 or E75, as what most CIOs tend to be interested in is e-mail - and without a QWERTY keyboard, the N86 isn't in the running at all.
Western Digital ShareSpace
Network storage systems are all the rage these days, we're told. Local storage is out and now it's all about placing your data on the network, where it's (in theory) safer.
Western Digital's ShareSpace is the latest in a long line of systems which promise this kind of functionality, although if you notice, the firm shies away from the use of the correct term, ‘Network Attached Storage' (NAS) - because all these little boxes really do is act as a NAS unit.
It's a pity, because enterprises understand the value of a good NAS system and probably have more than a few already within their organisation. However, for smaller firms, a device like the ShareSpace makes a lot of sense. Rather than investing in a hugely complicated (and let's face it, expensive) system from the likes of EMC, the ShareSpace can easily fill the data storage needs of a company with say, less than 100 seats.
Among the system's more useful features is the ability to transfer data from any USB drive plugged into the front ports directly into the ShareSpace. The little data devourer can also send an administrator e-mail alerts if one of the drives is not long for this world, although we're rather wary of depending on such a feature in lieu of listening for any sharp whirring noises.
And what's this? Why, it's Western Digital's new GreenPower technology which claims to consume up to 33% less power than before. As far as we're concerned, that's the killer app, right there - power consumption. Or not.