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Tag Archives: PDAs

Pocket-Sized Talking Translator – “My Hovercraft Is Full Of Eels”

Talking Translator (Image courtesy Taylor Gifts)
By Andrew Liszewski

If you’re visiting a foreign land and don’t know the language, the last thing you want to do is spend your time looking up translations in a book. So this pocket sized translator will not only display 8,400 phrases in 8 conversational categories, but it will speak them as well.

Supported languages include French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Swedish, Portuguese, Dutch, Turkish and of course English. It also includes a headphone jack so you don’t walk around annoying the locals while you try to find the nearest bathroom. Of course with 8,400 phrases and no keyboard, I have to wonder how easy it is to find the words you’re looking for.

It’s currently available from Taylor Gifts for $69.98, and hopefully works a lot better than the Hungarian Phrasebook seen in Monty Python.

[ Talking Translator ] VIA [ Gear Live ]

iTRAVL Language Communicator – Handheld BabelFish

iTRAVL Language Communicator (Image courtesy SkyMall) By Andrew Liszewski

If you’ve always wanted to travel the world but have been worried about the ‘language barrier’ you’ll be happy to know it should no longer be an issue. Because in addition to making it obvious you’re a tourist the iTRAVL PDA will also serve as a personal translator. Just say one of 63,000 phrases and the device will instantly speak the translated version back to you in either English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

In addition the iTRAVL should replace any and all travel books one might normally carry since it includes the Fodor’s guide for 50 major destinations on 5 continents, the CIA World Factbook for 180 countries, audio guides to major museums around the world, a 1.6 million word audiovisual dictionary including various local terms, slang and useful expressions and it will even function as an audio player. (Presumably MP3s are supported.)

The iTRAVL is available from SkyMall for $499.95.

[ iTRAVL Language Communicator ]

VoxTec Phraselater P2 – Say What?

VoxTec Phraselator P2 (Images courtesy VoxTec)
By Andrew Liszewski

Having worked for many years with a group of Australians I can understand the frustrations when not everyone speaks the same language. The Phraselator P2 from VoxTec is designed to overcome any language barriers without the need for a human translator. It’s a rather chunky-looking PDA that can provide fast and accurate translations of spoken phrases in any language. And from what I can tell since it was developed for use by the US military it’s specifically designed for translating phrases to and from english.

Using a built-in microphone and speaker the P2 can translate what someone else is saying and then speak back your own response to them in their own language. It also has a touchscreen LCD display allowing you to choose from a list of phrases or common responses if you prefer that method instead. And unlike most PDAs the Phraselator is built to military standards meaning it’s extremely rugged and is completely dust, sand and waterproof.

It’s currently available directly from VoxTec for around $2,000 but at that price I think I’ll just stick with speaking very loud and waving my hands around when someone doesn’t understand me.

[ VoxTec Phraselator P2 ] VIA [ productdose ]

Palm Tungsten Based Bird Encyclopedia

Handheld Bird Encyclopedia (Image courtesy Hammacher Schlemmer) By Andrew Liszewski

The ‘Audio Visual Handheld Bird Encyclopedia’ from Hammacher Schlemmer crams a wealth of birding data into a small package. In reality it’s just a Palm Tungsten PDA running the National Geographic Society’s birding software but it can replace a backpack full of field guides and notebooks. The software has a database of 867 North American birds, 1,600 bird images, 650 range maps and four hours of recorded birdsongs from the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I assume since they’re dropping that name the lab is well respected amongst the birding community.

Besides allowing you to search the database by name, color, size and location the software also includes a checklist feature since keeping track of what birds you’ve seen is important for earning street cred as a bird watcher. Your checklist can even be uploaded to eBird.org providing others with information about when and where you had your sighting.

The Audio Visual Handheld Bird Encyclopedia is available from Hammacher Schlemmer for $449.95. However if you’re already running a Palm device you can simply order the software for $199.95.

[ Audio Visual Handheld Bird Encyclopedia ]

Sharp LCD Screen Doubles As Image Sensor

Sharp VGA LCD Sensor Screen (Images courtesy Tech-On!)
By Andrew Liszewski

As if I wasn’t already paranoid enough about accidentally getting fingerprints on my phone’s screen Sharp has just developed a new LCD technology that encourages that behavior. The new 2.6-inch VGA (640×480) LCD was unveiled at the ISSCC 2007 event in San Francisco and will be used to add touch-panel input functionality as well as biometric capabilities to mobile devices like phones and PDAs. Apparently other companies have developed similar LCDs in the past but Sharp’s version allows for a higher resolution output from the sensor at a low cost.

The real breakthrough made by Sharp was a proprietary TFT fabrication technology called the continuous grain (CG)-Silicon TFT process:

…This technology enables the integration of circuits with multiple functions on a single glass substrate by the same film formation process.

Based on this process, a PIN photodiode that converts incident light into the electrical signal and the TFT that drives the display panel are formed on the Si thin film on the same glass substrate. The photodiode is formed adjacent to the TFT so that they can share the same bus, thereby allowing the function as a sensor circuit even without the resetting and row-selecting transistors.

Unfortunately at the moment there is no information on when this technology might be included in future mobile devices.

[ Sharp LCD Screen With Image Sensor @ Tech-On! ] VIA [ SlashPhone ]

SD Card / Bluetooth GPS Antenna

By Evan Ackerman

SD Bluetooth GPSIf you’ve been looking for a good way to add some GPS functionality to a portable device, Haicom provides a simple solution by combining three good ideas into one tiny (about 5cm on a side) GPS unit. First, the GPS communicates through Bluetooth 1.1, so it should play well with others. Second, it draws power from any standard SD card slot. I know, I know, where will all your Hurra Torpedo MP3s go now? But wait for it… Third, it’s got a miniSD slot built right in to the SD adapter, so it doesn’t actually steal storage space. Yes, you would have to get a new miniSD card, but cheer up, Windows Vista can use that old SD card as extra RAM to improve performance.

The GPS itself is decent, using the SiRF Star III chipset and up to 20 satellite channels for an accuracy of +/- 15 meters. It has a status LED, an external antenna connection, and a mini firewire port so that it can be connected to pretty much anything else through a set of optional cables. It should start shipping later this month for $109.95.

[Haicom HI-505SD Bluetooth GPS Receiver with SD Interface] VIA [GPS Gazette]

Spectrec MiniSD & MicroSD Video-Out Adapter

Spectrec MiniSD & MicroSD Video-Out Adapter (Image courtesy Spectrec) By Andrew Liszewski

Who would have thought that one day the laptop computer would be considered ‘too bulky’ to carry around? Well with the advent of smartphones and PDAs that can pretty much match most laptops in terms of functionality all you really need is a deep pocket when travelling. Of course a big downside to these handheld devices is that the screens are really only meant for personal use so sharing an image or other data is not exactly easy.

To overcome this Spectrec has released a video-out adapter for handheld devices that interfaces via a MiniSD or MicroSD slot. This allows your PDA or phone to connect directly to a TV, monitor or projector through a VGA or s-video (NTSC or PAL) hookup. The output has a maximum resolution of 1024×768 at ‘full color’ and can even be previewed on the handheld’s screen which is handy when running something like a PowerPoint presentation. It even includes a 10 button IR remote which I assume can be used to control slideshows and other functions.

Of course the PDA or smartphone has to have an SD slot that supports SDIO but other than that this device looks pretty universal.

[ Spectrec MiniSD & MicroSD Video-Out Adapter ] VIA [ SlashGear ]

Viewsonic Ruggedized Handheld

Viewsonic By David Edney

Viewsonic, the makers of all things monitor, have decided to come out with not one, but seven ruggedized handhelds. Here’s the deets and there are a lot of them: the units run on Windows Mobile 2003 and are powered by Intel XScale processors. They meet IP54 design standards for sealing against dust, moisture and extreme environmental conditions. The features include 3.5-inch 240 x 320 (QVGA) LCD display, 416MHZ-520MHZ Intel Xscale processor, Jog dial, SD card slot and hot-swappable Lithium Ion batteries which allow battery changes without shutdown or loss of data. They also come with 802.11b/g wireless, Bluetooth, bar code scanner, 1.3 megapixel camera (with most models), fingerprint sensor (with most models) and GPS (Global Positioning System) support with one model. This thing is loaded and it only weighs 12 oz, so it fits in the Christmas stocking very nicely.

[Product Page] VIA [New Launches ]

EOps Tech’s SDIO TV Tuner Card For Mobile Devices

sdio tv tunerBy David Ponce

Say you’ve got a SDIO-enabled, Windows Mobile based device; a shiny new smartphone, or a blinging PDA. Say also that you either got it as a gift, or sold your right hand for it and so now you can’t afford to pay for the data plans that would allow you to watch TV on it. Or you live in Timbuctu or some such place and digital TV on mobile devices is just fancy talk. Well, there’s hope.

Coming this March, company EOps Tech will be releasing this SDIO TV Tuner, allowing you to tune in to PAL or NTSC signals worldwide. The device comes with a lanyard-style antenna and built-in signal booster and its own battery, which lasts for up to 2.5 hours.

There’s no price I could see anyplace, but there are a bunch more specs inside. Out here, you get the product page: EOps Tech DVIO TV Tuner.

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