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Tech’s Vanguard

The newest cameras, software, phones, and apps to help you work, talk, run, and get back home.

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A rendering of an augmented-reality iPhone app.  

Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera
Price: $179.95.
Release date: September.
The improvement: Kodak’s previous pocket cameras couldn’t compete with the brilliant Flip camcorders, but the Zi8 is a true Flip-killer. It can record in 1080p high-definition; it holds about four hours of footage (or four times what the Flip can); there’s a macro focus mode to eliminate blurry close-ups; and the electronic image stabilization smooths out the Flip’s aggravating handheld jitters.
In non-geek-speak: It’s as cute as the Flip, costs less, and takes better videos.

Sony 2009 Bravia HDTV with Netflix streaming
Price: From $1,500 (40-inch).
Release date: TVs available now; Netflix integration rolling out in October.
The improvement: The new generation of Sony HDTVs come with a built-in Internet video platform that lets you connect directly to the web without an additional box, opening your previously cable- or satellite-bound TV to Netflix’s library of streaming content.
In non-geek-speak: Lets you access your “Watch Instantly” Netflix queue from your couch.

Windows 7
Price: From $120 to upgrade your PC.
Release date: October 22.
The improvement: Will transform Windows into something that not only works (Microsoft’s last big release, Windows Vista, often didn’t) but also looks and feels beautiful. The face-lift includes a multitasking-friendly tool called Aero Peek, widgets you can place anywhere on the desktop, and better support for peripheral devices.
In non-geek-speak: Removes the urge to smash your PC with a sledgehammer.

Samsung Reclaim ecofriendly phone
Price: $50 after rebates, with two-year Sprint contract agreement.
Release date: Available now.
The improvement: The Reclaim’s casing is made of bioplastic, and 80 percent of the phone’s materials are recyclable.
In non-geek-speak: A phone for those who care more about the environment than apps.

New York Nearest Subway augmented reality iPhone app
Price: TBD.
Release date: Possibly early September, pending release of iPhone OS 3.1.
The improvement: Uses the iPhone’s onboard GPS, compass, and video camera to display layers of visual data over the real world in real time. Specifically, it gives great subway directions.
In non-geek-speak: An app that makes it easier to find your way home: Point the camera at the ground, then follow the arrows to the nearest station.


FitBit
Price: $99
Release date: Preorders will ship this month.
The improvement: Essentially a super-pedometer, the thumb-size device contains a motion sensor that records your movements 24/7 and translates the data into readouts about calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled, even sleep habits (if you’re willing to wear it to bed).
In non-geek-speak: A tiny digital assistant that will make you want to exercise more.


ASUS Eee Keyboard PC
Price: $549
Release date: October.
Improvement: Take your average keyboard, add an iPhone-size touchscreen where the numerical keypad should be, tack on a wireless router, and presto!—your big-screen TV now doubles as a computer monitor.
In non-geek-speak: A cross between one of those wireless keyboards you use with a hotel-room TV, and a laptop.

Apple Tablet (rumored)
Price: Said to be in the $700–$900 range.
Release date: Only Steve Jobs knows.
The improvement: Represents Apple’s big move on the Kindle. If Internet scuttlebutt prove correct, it’s essentially a supersize iPod with a touchscreen about ten inches wide, built-in wi-fi, and 3G cellular.
In non-geek-speak: If it ever sees the light of day, it’ll be a featherweight handheld computer for web browsing, e-mailing, and of course, reading e-books.


Related:

Fall Preview 2009

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