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Tech Buzz 12/02

Stamp-sized storage cards for digital cameras and PDAs; notebooks powered by desktop processors

SmartMedia, CompactFlash, Memory Sticks, Secure Digital (SD) cards. As if the pot wasn't already boiling over with tiny removable media choices, Olympus and Fuji have teamed up to introduce the xD-Picture Card, which boasts a size of less than an inch and capacity up to 8GB. We're mostly dealing in the realm of storage for digital cameras, but these little cards often carry over into devices like PDAs and SmartPhones.

What really matters is where you should put your money when you're buying. SmartMedia is on the decline, which accounts for Olympus and Fuji positioning the xD-Picture Card as its replacement. But you have to justify spending money on a proprietary format that doesn't fit anything you already have without the added expense of an adapter. CompactFlash is still a standby, thanks to increased capacities, wide adoption and lower prices.

Memory Sticks make sense for Sony devotees, though a large part of their popularity has come through Sony's powerful consumer push. SD is interesting due to the other uses that the SD slot can be put to, especially for handhelds. Wi-Fi and GPS cards will be on the market soon. If those extras appeal to your business needs, keep an eye on developments at the SD Card Association (www.sdcard.org). Next time you're shopping for a digital camera or a PDA, consider your memory options and settle on something you can work well with, at least until the next upgrade.

Masters of Disguise

Careful, there are desktops in laptops' clothing. Everybody from Hewlett-Packard to Gateway and Dell is feeding the laptop market with notebooks powered by desktop processors. A couple hundred dollars cheaper and usually faster than portables with mobile processors, the hybrids are also heavier, require larger fans/cooling systems and chew through batteries faster. Dell's SmartStep 200N with a 2GHz Pentium 4 processor is only $1,499 (street), but it's pushing 8 pounds.

While every vendor has one of these speedy notebooks in its lineup, nobody is trumpeting the fact that they're using desktop components. Smart shoppers will look for the "Pentium 4-M" or "Mobile Pentium 4" label. True mobile warriors won't want the extra heft, heat and frequent recharging, but a hybrid may suffice if you're looking for a desktop replacement that won't wander far from the office.

Only time will tell how desktop processors affect laptop longevity.

31%
of Americans say it's acceptable to use a cell phone while driving, down from
76%
last year.SOURCE: LetsTalk.com
By 2007, Bluetooth hardware will be embedded in
20%
of all new vehicles worldwide.SOURCE: Allied Business Intelligence Inc.

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This article was originally published in the December 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Tech Buzz 12/02.

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