DIGITAL GEAR - A schedule that follows you

Push technology, used by Research In Motion to send e-mail to mobile phone users, has spawned a bunch of mobile services that take advantage of improved mobile broadband speeds. MobiMate recently launched WorldMate Live, a mobile service that makes travel easy by pushing flight reminders, itineraries and travel reservation information to a user's cell phone. Talking about travel tools, Pure Digital Technologies's FlipVideo is a low-cost camcorder that can replace a valuable, expensive digital camcorder on a short trip. And if you're headed to a windy place, carry the Hymini recharger, which uses wind and solar energy to power up gadgets.

Pushing the travel service

Get a virtual travel manager with WorldMate Live, a mobile service offered by WorldMate Inc. that pushes travel alerts and reminders to cell phones and helps manage car booking, hotel reservations and meetings. The service also offers tools craved by international travelers, like an international clock, currency converter, international exchange rates and maps.

The host of push services offered by the mobile service protects travelers from unforeseen circumstances, said Ian Berman, vice president of business development at WorldMate, a division of MobiMate that runs the service. If a flight gets cancelled, the service alerts the traveler and offers the option to check routes and seek another flight, he said. In the future users will be able to rebook a flight using the service, a company spokeswoman said.

The service is targeted as much to leisurely travelers as it is to business users, Berman said. Users can map directions to a location and establish contact with car or hotel reservation companies through the service, he said. A Microsoft Outlook add-on also allows users to transfer a travel itinerary from the e-mail client to a cell phone.

Data is sent from a server operated by WorldMate to a software client on the cell phone. The service currently works only on RIM's BlackBerry phones, but it should work with all smartphones by the end of 2008, Berman said.

WorldMate Live's free service includes access to basic services including itinerary management, meeting reminders, Outlook synchronization and travel content. For $US99.95 per year or $9.95 per month, users can get real-time notification on delayed or cancelled flights, flight schedules and a travel directory, according to the company. More information on the service is available in WorldMate Live's Web site.

A green way to recharge the iPod

Sunny and breezy cities like San Francisco could use a gadget like Hymini, a universal recharger that uses wind and solar energy to recharge 5-volt gadgets like cell phones or MP3 players. It has a fan that consumes wind and converts it to energy, which then recharges gadgets. An optional attachment allows solar panels to recharge gadgets via solar energy.

Users can use it while sitting outside a cafe, riding a bike or driving a car. If a car is moving at 40 miles per hour, a Hymini placed on a window can generate enough power for 8 hours of MP3 music or 40 minutes of cell-phone chat time, according to the company.

The Hymini base unit that recharges using wind energy sells for $US50, and includes a multiphone USB (Universal Serial Bus) adapter, a wall-plug adapter and a tabletop holder. A Hymini including accessories and a solar panel costs $US105. It is available on Hymini's Web site.

No fuss, no frills video recording

Pure Digital's Flip Ultra Video is a small, no-frills camcorder ideal to shoot home videos. Sized like a normal point-and-shoot digital camera, pressing one button starts and stops recording video. The simple interface also allows users to review or delete unwanted video on the fly with the press of a few buttons. Bundled software allows users to edit video and publish them directly to video sites like YouTube. It shoots 640 by 480 resolution video at 30 frames per second, according to the company.

It's a good small, low-maintenance camcorder to grab quick video shots to complement a high-end digital camcorder. For $US179.99, users can shoot 60 minutes of video on 2G bytes of storage, and a 1G-byte version offers 30 minutes of footage for $US149.99. It is available at retail stores in the U.S and online on sites like Amazon.com.

Flip Ultra works with the PC and Mac, and as an added bonus, serves as a data backup device.

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Agam Shah

IDG News Service
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