Inspecting gadgets

ACN rounds up the latest and greatest executive gadgets, from the latest offering from a fruit-themed giant to shiny white boxes sending packets into copper

Tags: Apple IncorporatedBelkin International IncorporationNokia CorporationSmartphoneUnited Arab Emirates
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Inspecting gadgets
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By  Nathan Statz Published  July 25, 2009 Arabian Computer News Logo

The new, newer, new iPhone

Apple took the wraps off a bundle of new toys at the Worldwide Developer Conference, including a new version of the Safari web browser and the Mac operating system (Snow Leopard, OSX 10.6) but it was the fruit-themed company's new smartphone, the iPhone 3GS, which stole the show.

Given that the new iPhone looks exactly the same as its predecessors, you would be forgiven for thinking that nothing had changed. Indeed, most of the alterations are under the hood, with a plethora of new applications and hefty processing power upgrades.

The PR team at Apple claim that the new smartphone is up to two times faster than the original, and the focus is on the ‘up-to' which is basically like saying it could go that fast, or it might just go one tick higher on the speedometre than the previous model.

What would a new phone be without a camera upgrade? Apple doesn't disappoint here, opting for the tried and true option of juicing up the megapixels on the picture-snapper to three and the addition of autofocus, which makes life a lot simpler for the amateur photographer. There are also some funky new additions, such as Voice Control, which does exactly as advertised and lets you control your fancy chunk of plastic and metal with the sound of your monologue.

Slightly more useless is the inclusion of a digital compass. While this is great for finding your way on a bushwalk, we don't think it's a stretch to say that a lot of people would still be lost in the urban jungle even if they knew which way North was. If you like your cross-promotion applications then you'll be relieved to know that Apple's new plaything comes with Nike integration, so if you have a fancy iPod sensor for your shoes then you will be able to connect straight away and get back to releasing endorphins.

Belkin Powerline Turbo Starter Kit (F5D4073)

The concept of sending network packets through copper wires that normally transmit bolts of electricity is an exciting one. Such technology has not been adopted mainstream yet so it still has that rush which accompanies trying something fresh and new. Suffice to say, we were more than a little enthusiastic about playing with Belkin's Powerline Turbo Starter Kit to see what it was like to have network information bouncing around with electrical juices.

The network kit includes a single port adapter for desktops or notebooks as well as another single port adapter that will allow you to connect the kit to your existing switch or router. The package is HomePlug 1.0 certified and Belkin claims data speeds of up to 85Mbits/sec. Your performance will vary however, as the quality of the power cables used in your home or office will affect its performance, so if you're sporting a world heritage-listed home with ancient wiring you may be in for a spot of bother.

On the appearance side the unit looks fairly posh, and thankfully you don't have to rip through huge amounts of packaging to get at your new gear. Belkin claims the kit has a range of up to 300 metres, however the kit's range is once again based on the quality of the little bits of metal hidden in your walls. In our brief run-through the starter-kit came up trumps, though the building we sampled it in was not close to being a teenager so results may vary.

Nothing but Nokia's N97

Middle Eastern CIOs know better than most that a release date in the US does not translate into a release date for the countries who border the Arabian Gulf. Nokia is attempting to buck this trend by releasing the Nokia N97 in the region before the rest of the world can get their hands on it.

The N97 comes with a 3.5" touch screen display and a QWERTY keyboard, so if you are indecisive and can't make up your mind if you want a touchscreen or physical buttons to mash then this may be the portable for you.

Nokia's newest edition comes with a 32 GB memory capacity onboard, with capacity for a 16 GB microSD card expansion. Rounding out the specifications is a 16:9 widescreen display and a 5 megapixel camera. Finland's most famous mobile phone company is known for hitting home-runs when it comes to inbuilt cameras and the Carl Zeiss optics on the N97 are no exception. While this may not sway some into making the switch to a Nokia, it's one of the nicer features that's included.

One of the interesting elements of Nokia's N97 launch is the incorporation of the Bil3arabi ‘Calling All Innovators' contest to create local Arabic content for the company's Ovi store. N97's can plug straight into the Ovi store and it is hoped that the competition will spur mobile and web application developers in the region to push the creation of Arabic content for the phone.

As far as smartphones go, the N97 comes with a bunch of consumer-friendly features, which seems to be the direction business portables are going down, but also packs all the necessary features to be considered a serious contender in the highly-competitive enterprise space.

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