Convenience for jet-setters is the aim with the Franklin Bookman 1100 Speaking Translator, which knows 264,000 words and can speak them in both English and Chinese. It also knows some commonly used travellers' phrases in seven other languages, so it should be a boon to travellers everywhere. We hope it doesn't suffer from bugs of the "my hovercraft is full of eels" type.
Dick Smith Electronics
Phone: 1300 366 644
Bar code pen
The A. T. Cross company has been making fine pens since the late 19th century. In the early 21st, most every manufacturer feels the need to incorporate cyber features into its products, and this one is no exception. The Cross Convergence incorporates a bar code scanner and tiny memory which can hold up to 300 codes. These can then be transferred to your computer, where you will be able to find out more about items you have scanned, as well as buy products. However, the system requires that participating companies' bar codes are registered at a central Web site, so it won't work with all products. Nevertheless, it looks pretty cool.
A. T. Cross
Iomega's rivals in removable storage haven't been sitting on their hands. Castlewood's popular 2.2GB disc drive has now come out in a new version that can store 5.7GB on each cartridge and has a considerable speed. Initially available as an internal drive, external models will soon be released.
Price: IDE internal $849, discs $99 each
Phone: (02) 9453 5952
Biometrics is an emerging trend in securing computers from unauthorised access (See First Looks, page 30). Identifying some part of your body before granting access to the computer reduces the risk of intrusion. Toshiba offers the PC Card Fingerprint Reader as an optional upgrade to its current models.
Phone: 1800 680 662
Mobile phone maker Nokia plans to step into the home entertainment arena with its sophisticated yet simple Media Terminal. Containing an embedded Linux computer, it can deliver digital television and e-mail, play games, record video, surf the Web, chat and much more. Connect it to a big TV and a cable service, and you'll never need to leave the couch again.
Phone: 1300 366 733
Iomega just keeps those stylish peripherals coming. This one is not a spacecraft, but an external 8x4x32x CD-ReWritable drive. It can connect to USB, FireWire or PCMCIA interfaces by using appropriate adaptors.
Phone: (02) 9925 7700
So, like any good nerd, you've collected a house or office full of computers, all performing vital tasks like crunching SETI numbers and downloading MP3s. What's the best way to manage this PC empire? You could walk from machine to machine, log in remotely - or you could use D-Link's KVM Switch to let you use a single mouse, keyboard and monitor to control up to 128 machines. Smaller models are available, too.
Price: $1017, cables $84
Phone: (02) 9417 7100
Developed in Canon's Australian research facility, the User Interface Card provides a simple and direct way to navigate and shop on the Web. With a set-top box connected to a TV, inexpensive smart cards given away by retailers can be inserted into a remote control in which the icons on their surfaces become simple control buttons for such tasks as banking and buying.
Phone: (02) 9805 2905