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Camera phones

Q. My wife and I are antique dealers in English country furniture. We live and trade in USA but travel to England to buy for ourselves and clients. At present we have a laptop, digital camera and cellphone. It would be good to have all this technology in one hand held device, especially as it would avoid carrying and unpacking the laptop through US security. We need to be able to photograph items in England and send them to our clients in USA and send and collect e-mails from there. It does not matter too much if the device does not fit US frequencies since we travel by car in USA and web access is easy at hotels. Have you any suggestions?

A. I would go for a tri-band GSM/GPRS/Edge-based cellphone, preferably one of the Sony Ericsson models like the new 3.2 megapixel K790a, with a contract from Cingular Communications.

That would enable you to take reasonably high quality images on the road in England (roaming onto one of the GSM-based services there) and email them directly back to your clients in the USA.

The K790a also comes with full email functionality though you might want to consider carrying a seperate laptop or keyboard-based wireless device like a GSM-based BlackBerry to make it easier to send and receive emails. If you chose a new laptop you might consider one of the new Dell/Lenovo or Sony machines that have built-in 3G wireless capabilities.

Alternatively you could consider a smartphone device like one of the GSM-based Treo devices that have both a thumb sized keyboard and a built-in camera though the camera is not as high quality as the K790a.

RIM has yet to produce a BlackBerry with an integrated camera but Motorola’s new Q Smartphone has both. Unfortunately for the moment the Q is only available on the Verizon CDMA network which is not compatible with carriers in the UK. Hopefully that will change soon however.

LCD vs Plasma for company use

Q. Our company is about to embark on the implementation of an entry level boardroom video conferencing facility using a Polycom 512 VC unit with surround sound. We have opted for one 50 inch screen and the dilemma we face is that local vendors are providing us with conflicting verdicts relating to the LCD versus Plasma screen debate.

The one issue which they raised related to the “ghosting” effect on LCD displays, but, according to your article, this is a thing of the past and it would appear that if we opted for one of the later 50 inch LCD models, we would have made the correct choice in terms of our current and future needs.

We will also be using the screen for PowerPoint and Excel presentations and wold like to be sure that LCD has the prerequisite properties in terms of resolution to cater for these.

Any advice you can provide us with will be much appreciated.

Russell Shanglee

A. Actually I think you would be fine with either technology for the purposes you require and it is probably more important to make sure the system has all the connectors you will require including HDMI, component and PC connectors.

From the cost perspective, Plasma would be cheaper and would be fine, especially in a conference room setting where it is unlikely that there would be too much direct light on the screen (and therefore reflections).

As I indicated in a previous article, LCD technology is likely to replace plasma in the 50 inch size range as the technology of choice over the next few years, but unless you plan to show lots of HD movies on the screen I’m not sure I would pay the extra at this stage.

Either way, I suspect you will probably want to replace the system in a few years time with a brighter, larger screen.

If, however, you are looking for maximum future proofing at this stage, pick an LCD set with multiple HDMI connectors that supports HD content in 1080p format (most only support the lower resolution 1080i at the moment).

Buying a 1080p panel will cost more, but will ensure you get the full benefit of Blu-ray and other HD content down the line.

Terabyte drives

Q. I’m looking external drives that have close to a terabyte [1000GB] of capacity. Can you help?

Shahed Aziz

A. You have several options for large-scale computer storage, including the units I reviewed in a recent article- Anthology Solution’s Yellow Machine, Buffalo’s Terrastation family and Netgear’s Storage Central.

My favourite is Antholog’s Yellow Machine (www.yellowmachine.com).

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