thePipeline

A roundup of interesting products from the 2005 Consumer Electronics Show.

In this Pipeline, senior writer Michelle Speir provides a roundup of interesting products displayed at the 2005 Consumer Electronics Show held earlier this month in Las Vegas.

Who needs an office anymore?

Working while wired? Passé. At a desk daily? Get going!

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas made it clear that wires are for wussies. So are offices. You can do it all on the road: surf the Web, print documents, enter data, give presentations and much more. And you can do it all wirelessly.

Here is a sampler of hot items on display at the show, all designed for mobile productivity.

Calling all GPS devices

A great little device by Wherify Wireless puts the "gee" in Global Positioning System. We'd never seen anything like the Wherifone G550, a unique product using patented technology that combines digital wireless and GPS technologies.

Primarily a GPS locator device, the Wherifone G550 adds basic wireless phone features such as incoming and outgoing calling, programmable buttons for one-touch dialing, and a two-way speakerphone. It also has a headset jack and a backlit LCD for numeric paging.

The device is great for managers of mobile workforces who need to keep track of workers or cargo but don't want to provide — or pay for — full wireless phone functionality for employees. It can also track stolen assets such as vehicles and cargo.

The device will be available this spring. Sometime after the initial release, the Wherifone G550 will be able to roam in approximately 190 countries and will feature a worldwide concierge service.

Of special interest to government customers will be Wherify's upcoming merger with IQ Biometrix, a company that provides face-recognition technology to law enforcement agencies. Officials hope to combine the companies' technology for homeland security, law enforcement and other applications.

Final pricing has not yet been set, but the Wherifone G550 will sell for less than $150, and monthly service plans will start at under $20. For more information, visit www.wherify.com.

Surfing with a twist

By now we all know you can surf the Web on the road, but the PocketSurfer by DataWind adds a new twist: It offers full HTML content and a full VGA-width screen, and it uses a wireless phone for connectivity.

The device is Bluetooth-enabled so if you have a Bluetooth phone, you're all set. Just fire up your phone and stick it in your bag or pocket, then start surfing. If your phone doesn't feature Bluetooth, you will need to buy a wireless adapter for the PocketSurfer.

The device uses your wireless phone service to connect. You can use your minutes or purchase an unlimited-usage data plan, which all carriers offer.

PocketSurfer's clamshell design measures 6 by 3 inches and is less than 9/16-inch thick. It features a QWERTY thumb keyboard, mouse pointer and page navigation controls. The company claims download times of 7 to 9 seconds on 2G networks.

PocketSurfer is great for customers who don't have a Web-enabled handheld or who want to view full HTML content on a larger screen while on the road.

The suggested retail price is $199. For more information, visit www.datawind.com.

FrogPad hops into SCOTTeVEST clothing

If wearing your heart on your sleeve is too revealing, how about wearing a data entry keypad instead?

It's possible thanks to a collaboration between FrogPad and SCOTTeVEST. FrogPad makes the keypads and SCOTTeVEST makes clothing, such as jackets that integrate the pad into a sleeve for one-handed data entry in the field.

The Bluetooth-enabled pads are compatible with PCs and Macs that support the Bluetooth Human Interface Device protocol, which describes how a keyboard will communicate with another Bluetooth device.

The pads can integrate with virtually any mobile application so they're well-suited to military use and areas such as shipping logistics, the health care industry and remote field operations.

Pricing is not yet available. For more information, visit www.frogpad.com or www.scottevest.com.

Marvelous Memory Mini Mouse

Why carry a mouse and a flash drive when you can have them both in one little device?

Iogear's clever USB Memory Mini Mouse 800 contains an integrated 64M Flash drive for storing documents and other files (think Microsoft PowerPoint presentations) for easy access on the road.

You don't even have to bring your notebook if a computer is available at your remote location because the mouse is plug-and-play and hot pluggable. You can simply connect it and start working — no software required.

The mouse is optical, so it has no moving parts and works on any surface. That's perfect for a mouse with 800 dpi resolution because only small movements are required to operate the cursor. That means you can use it on airline tray tables, knees — you name it.

The mouse also features a retractable cable and carrying case for easy management and neater traveling. The 64M Memory Mini Mouse 800 sells for $49.95. A 128M version is in the works. For more information, visit www.iogear.com.

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