Libretto U100 mini-notebook
Toshiba's Libretto line of mini-portable notebooks are making a reappearance in the U.S. with the U100.
By Columnist
updated 6/28/2005 7:49:37 PM ET 2005-06-28T23:49:37

The C3 Expo, taking place at the Javits Center in New York this week, is that rare thing these days: a computer show expressly for the business world. The sponsors of C3 (it stands for Corporate and Channel Computing) believe that now, more than ever, the industry demands a central event addressing the purchasing needs of corporate business.

However boring that sounds, remember that while we might buy a computer every two to three years, corporations buy dozens, hundreds or thousands of computers at a clip every two years. So, just by the sheer size of their purchases, businesses have a huge say in what we’re able to buy.

A lot of names you know appear on the show exhibitor’s list — IBM, Microsoft, Xerox, AMD, Nortel, Siemens, Sony, Texas Instruments and Vonage — but there are also a slew of smaller firms who cater to corporate buyers and users.  I was able to find some interesting new things to tell you about at a preview last night.

I was thrilled to see that Toshiba is bringing the newest version of their ultra-small notebook computers to the United States. I loved the first Libretto. As a matter of fact, it was one of the first reviews I wrote for MSNBC. Now, as part of Toshiba's 20th anniversary of making laptops, they're back. 

The new Libretto U100 is jam-packed with features compared to my ancient one. There’s a 60 GB hard drive, a 1.2 GHz Pentium M processor, 512 MB of memory, a 7.2-inch wide-screen LCD, and built-in 802.11b/g just to name a few goodies.  It weighs just over 2 pounds.

With a suggested retail price of $1,999, the Libretto could give other super-minis (OQO, Vulcan) a run for their money.

ThinkPad X41 tablet computer
Thinkpad / Levono
ThinkPad's small, lightweight X41 tablet computer.
ThinkPad was showing off their new tablet computer at C3. You remember ThinkPad — up until a few weeks ago it was a hardware division of IBM. Now, the ThinkPad line belongs to Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo.

I’m not a fan of using tablet computers myself —but I do see why many business people might disagree. Tablets excel at certain pen-based applications. 

The X41 Tablet is thin (1.14 inches) and lightweight (3.5 pounds).  It sports the terrific full-size (IBM) laptop keyboard and a great looking 12-inch touch screen for tablet applications.

Prices for the X41 tablet start at $1,899.  There’s the matching X4 dock ($219) that adds 3 USB 2.0 ports, legacy (serial and parallel) ports, an Ultrabay Slim device port (for CD/DVD drive), plus an integrated key lock and cable lock slot for added security.

One interesting looking business tool on display was NeatReceipts Professional, a tiny, portable scanner that comes with special software. Business travelers scan in all of their receipts for travel, food, office supplies, entertainment expenses and more.

The data is extracted into the NeatReceipts software and from there expenses can be verified, saved and submitted via e-mail or printed out in just seconds.

There’s also a business card function which allows users to scan business cards into their address book and maintain a detailed activity log.  NeatReceipts Professional sells for $229.

Imation was showing off their tiny, little hard drive — the world’s smallest — at less than one-inch in diameter. It’s said to measure smaller than a quarter.

Imation's Micro Hard Drive
Inside this oddly shaped device is the world's smallest hard drive.
Think of the Micro Hard Drive as a slightly larger USB "thumb" drive for any data files you want to take portable. It plugs into any fast USB 2.0 slot (Mac, Windows or Linux) and can fit in your pocket or even attach to your briefcase handle with its loop design.

The 2GB drive will be available this month for $159.  Later this year, expect to see a 4GB Micro Hard Drive version for $189.

Headsets for cellular phones are also getting smaller and smaller. One miniscule device on display that caught my eye at the Jabra booth was the JX10. 

JX 10 headset
Small is the keyword for this tiny new JX 10 headset from Jabra.
Designed by the highly renowned Danish design company, Jacob Jensen Design (B&O electronics and Gaggenau appliances) the JX10 — which weighs less than .35 ounces and measures less than 1.5 inches — will probably turn into the next "gotta-have-it: bling for the fashion conscious.

Oh, yes there’s DSP (Digital Signal Processing) inside, as well as Bluetooth and some four to six hours of talk time from the rechargeable battery. The JX10 will be available later this year.

Finally, a stunner from the people at Archos, who were boasting about their portable digital video recorder with a wide-screen display and monster storage.

The new AV 700 mobile DVR boasts a 7-inch wide format screen and either a 40 GB or a 100 GB hard drive. The 100 GB model is capable of making/storing up to 400 hours of video — or 250 movies available in portable form.

Wide-screen display + super-large hard drive = one million photo slideshows.
The main selling point for Archos portable video devices is that you can use them to record from your antenna, cable or satellite box without having to use a computer. You’re actually making analog recordings which, like those you make with a VCR, are legal. Recording has been made easier with the new Archos Docking Pod. Loose wires are a thing of the past.

You can also sync your AV 700 with your computer’s Windows Media Player 10 to transfer your compressed music files. Or you can store and view up to — get this — 1 million photos on the 100GB model.

The AV 700 allows you to transfer home movies onto the device using the USB Host port connected to a camcorder. You can also schedule recordings for a week or month ahead, just as you would a standard DVR. The integrated AV 700 Scheduler controls the tuner to automatically adjust the channel and record based on the time and duration of the schedule.

Pricing for the AV 700 is $599.95 and $799.95 for the 40-gigabyte and 100-gigabyte models, respectively. I expect to get to play with one very soon and will let you know the results.

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