Wednesday, October 18, 2006
The approaching fall promises exciting colors not only in nature, but also in gadgets. Apple this past week announced the Product Red iPod Nano, a bright red Nano with all the same features as the other colorful Nano models, but with a twist—$10 of the purchase price goes to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS in Africa. The Product Red series was started by Bono and Bobby Shriver to encourage consumers to buy bright red products that donate a portion of profits to the Global Fund.
Apple isn't the only tech company on the Product Red bandwagon—Motorola offers a special Product Red edition of the Razr, with pricing and availability yet to be determined (some of which will be based on the carriers). For more on Product Red and all of the different products and companies participating, check out http://www.joinred.com
Also announced last week was the Palm Treo 680, a consumer-focused version of the rather popular Treo 700 that—wait for it—comes in multiple colors. Called, unfortunately, Crimson, Copper and Arctic, those Treo 680 models are, in fact, red, orange and white. (There's also a Graphite model, which is, of course, the one that I would want. I'm boring.)
The Treo 680 offers another advantage—it's cheaper than Treos have been in the past—with two-year contract prices expected to be somewhere around $199 once the carriers actually have them. The Treo 680 has a lower-resolution camera (VGA) than the Treo 700, but more standard memory, and it still supports SD cards for expansion. It's got Bluetooth but no WiFi support (not that any Treo models do), and it's slightly skinnier than past models, as well as going sans antenna stub for the first time in Treo-dom. This might be the first pocket-friendly Treo—everyone is just waiting to see what the price and who the carrier(s) will be.
It's not particularly colorful, but it's worth noting that Verizon and Alltel have added the MOTOKRZR K1M to their lines, a high-end RAZR phone that bundles tons of storage capacity (up to 1 GB) with a 1.3 MegaPixel camera and GPS navigation capability. The Verizon version works with the Verizon VCast service (not yet available locally, but planned), which offers on-demand music and video, as well as MP3 audio stored on the phone.
Smartphones are exploding in popularity, particularly among consumers, with the Motorola Q, Treo 680 and Blackberry Pearl making the scene pretty exciting. T-Mobile's new entrant, the T-Mobile Dash, using Mobile Windows technology to offer Microsoft Outlook Mobile for e-mail, WiFi support for surfing where high-speed wireless is available, and a 1.3 megapixel camera for still and video capture. The device also offers the Windows Media Mobile Player 10.0 for video and audio playback. The whole thing comes in a sleek, thin form factor that is trying to get away from the chunky smartphone look—and it does a pretty decent job. List price is $349, with typical two-year offers bringing it down to about $199. No wonder Palm intro-ed a cheaper Treo.
Any other colorful gadgets rolling out this week? How about the ultimate mobile accessory—the 2007 Mini Cooper! It's a redesign, even if it's only slightly different to the naked eye. A little over two inches longer, the Mini's design has been altered to accommodate new pedestrian safety standards while improving stability. The new design also allows for larger turbo-charged engines in the Cooper S model, while word on the street is that the new regularly aspirated model is up to 20 percent more fuel efficient while emitting less CO2 than early models.
The interior has been goosed, as well, with a new "center speedo," now larger and encompassing many of the entertainment readouts. The 2007 model also comes without a key—instead, if you've got the door and starter fob in your pocket, you can simply start the Mini by pressing the On/Off switch.