BACK UP YOUR PHONE
By now you have probably received at least one mass e-mail message from a friend that said, "Lost my cell phone -- Please send me your contact info." To save irritation for both absent-minded phone owners and their friends, Sprint has introduced Sprint Wireless Backup, which synchronizes the contact list on a phone with a copy on Sprint's servers. Software on the phone automatically uploads changes made on the handset, and if the original phone is lost or broken, a new phone can automatically download the data.
For now, the service is available on two new Sprint phones, the Samsung A580, shown here, and the LG LX350. Subscribers can also log onto a Web site to view their contact list or make changes that are then sent to the phone. Using a full computer keyboard is easier than entering letters using the multiple taps required on a standard phone's numeric keypad.
The service cannot, however, exchange data with other online address books like those offered by Yahoo and Google, or with desktop information managers like Microsoft Outlook.
MULTIMEDIA CLASS NOTES
Digital voice recorders make it easy to record lectures, discussions and personal notes. But the playback can leave you wondering: What diagram was the lecturer discussing? Whom was I talking with? What on earth was I talking about?
Sony's ICD-CX50 recorder, available now from major retailers for US$400, can help you figure it all out. In addition to recording hours of audio, it shoots digital photos, so you can record lecture slides, faces, objects and events. It records sound in stereo so you can pick out voices in noisy surroundings and tell group members apart if they talk simultaneously. A "digital voice-up" function increases the volume of voices when recording at a distance.
The recorder's 256-megabyte memory, which stores both sound and photos, can hold up to 1,340 1.2-megapixel images, or more than 4,000 at a smaller size. Audio capacity is up to 93.5 hours in mono and more than 22 hours in stereo. Its lithium-ion battery powers the device for 10 hours to 14 hours before it needs recharging.
If you're still asking yourself those pesky questions when playing back recordings made on this machine, you'll have to add one more: Why did I forget to take a picture?
A MAC IN BLACK
Apple's line of laptops aimed at consumers took a leap forward last week when the company released its new MacBook model. Intended to replace the slower iBook laptops, the new MacBooks have either a 1.8-gigahertz or 2.0-gigahertz Intel Core Duo processor under the hood.
The new laptops have a bright, glossy 13-inch wide-screen display and a built-in iSight camera for video chats on the go. The MacBooks come with Apple's Front Row software and a tiny remote control for browsing your photo, movie and music collections without having to fiddle with the keyboard or trackpad.
The MacBook is available in white like the older iBook, but a sleek black model is also available; prices start at US$1,100, and configurations can be compared at www.apple.com/macbook.
Like the high-end MacBook Pro, the new MacBook comes with a MagSafe adapter that connects the power cable to the laptop magnetically -- and easily pulls loose to keep the computer from taking a dive if somebody trips over its cord.
It can connect to the Internet through wireless or Ethernet connections, but the days of dial-up are over -- unless you pay an additional US$49 for an external modem.