Top Tech 2009By Staff Writer 30 November 2009 | Categories: feature articles
The MiFi 2353 is a personal, mobile Wi-Fi hotspot and is one of the most impressive gadgets we’ve reviewed all year. As a battery operated wireless router with an HSPA modem you can pop a SIM card with data minutes into the device and instantly setup a Wi-Fi connection for up to five users with coverage of up to 10 m. You can even use it as a basic, portable NAS device and it features built-in A-GPS, allowing you to use location based services from your netbook. The only issue we took with the device is that it costs a cool R2000.
Nokia 5800 XpressMusic
Nokia’s first touch-screen, the 5800 XpressMusic, enjoyed a very friendly reception in the TechSmart office. It included A-GPS, HSDPA, Wi-Fi and had a lovely 3.2" resistive touch-screen. Although it lacked the smooth style of the iPhone, it also lacked the price-tag; available on a weekender contract. When we reviewed it, we named it the best mid-range phone on the market, and we stand by it.
Nokia Comes with Music service
In 2002 the legendary David Bowie said, “Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity.” Nokia’s Comes with Music service made all the latest tunes as freely available as water, as long as your data bundle didn’t buckle underneath the pressure. Comes with Music gives you access to the five million tunes on Nokia’s Music Store, yours to download and keep if you bought the XpressMusic 5130, 5530 or 5630 on contract.
mibli, powered by Microsoft OneApp
Officially launched in South Africa, mibli is an ingenious phone application. It works on basic handsets, is network agnostic and light on data, making it the ideal app for the developing world. Twittering, updating a Facebook status, reading RSS feeds and performing basic transactions are services now open to millions – for free. mibli, powered by Microsoft OneApp could literally reach the next billion people. Available to download from www.mibli.com.
Google Maps SA
In October Google SA announced a whole range of new functionality on Google Maps South Africa. This included support for finding local businesses; driving directions to locations in South Africa and the ability to create personalised maps using My Maps. It makes the service amazingly useful and for business owners it’s a must to list their location online for free. Google are currently snapping our streets, and their Street View service, which shows street-level pictures of cities, should be up and running just in time for the 2010 World Cup.
The Hero was the third HTC Android smartphone to land in South Africa this year; and in our opinion the best. It’s the first Android device that focuses more on usability than on the technology behind Android. The fact that the Android Market was available when the phone was launched added greatly to its appeal. It stands out as a second generation Android device and points the way forward for great things on the platform.
The little Atom processor was featured on our 2008 Top 10 list thanks to it being the catalyst for the netbook revolution. This year we saw it powering a number of small, low-wattage desktop PCs, dubbed nettops. Desktop sales have been dwindling for a while now, mostly due to the affordability of laptops, these small form factor nettops, basically a whole PC stuck in a box about half the size of a six-pack, are clawing back some market share. Nettop all-in-ones such as the Acer eMachines EZ1601 and Asus EeeTop ET1602 feature integrated displays. They look gorgeous and are a lot less cumbersome than the old ugly tower you always struggled to find space for.
To be perfectly honest Windows 7 is what Vista should have been. Less resource intensive and cumbersome, 7 offers a far friendlier and faster Windows experience than Vista ever did. A number of small but impressive additions such as Snap and Jump Lists make life on Windows 7 a lot more pleasant. Good feedback on the beta release ensured that first week unit sales of 7 in the US were 234% higher than that of Vista. If you’re still stuck on XP you can feel comfortable moving to 7.
Apple iPhone 3GS
It’s no longer good enough for smartphones to simply be smart, they also need to be fast. That’s why Samsung went on about the 800 MHz processor in the Jet and why Qualcomm recently unleashed the Snapdragon 1 GHz smartphone processor. Unsurprisingly, Apple kicked off the speed war earlier this year by announcing the iPhone 3GS, with the S representing speed.
Apparently twice as fast as its predecessor, the 3GS is still the slickest device around with 256 MB of RAM, a 600 MHz CPU and the iPhone 3.0 OS, which finally brought copy, cut and paste and MMS to the phone.
Android has been well received in the market and their apps stored over at android.com/market will only grow. At the rate it has been picked up by other manufacturers, and the lackluster performance of other platforms (read Windows Mobile 6.5), Android has an exciting future ahead of it.
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