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Product-of-the-Year: Bosch World 718 and Omnipoint Product-of-the-Year

Wednesday, January 27th, 1999 by Jonathan Spira

GSM wireless service provider Omnipoint Communications and the Bosch World 718 mobile phone proved to be a winning combination in 1998. The new mobile phone, available through Omnipoint, is our Product-of-the-Year.

The Bosch World 718 is the first mobile phone of its kind capable of operating in the United States and in hundreds of countries where GSM is available.  GSM (Global System for Mobile) communications is the world’s most popular and advanced wireless technology.  It is used by a 130 million people in 120 countries.  First adopted in 1991 in Europe as the wireless standard on the continent, GSM technology quickly spread around the world.

Over the past year, Basex analysts tested the Worldphone in a variety of situations, using Omnipoint’s GSM service and taking advantage of the carrier’s extensive list of international roaming partners.  Omnipoint has operational partnerships with more than 70 GSM carriers.  The company offers international roaming throughout most of Europe as well as parts of the Middle East, Africa, South America and the Pacific Rim.  New destinations are added each month.

In short, we found the phone to be a masterpiece of design.   It is small, light and attractive.  Battery life is luxuriously long and the charger that comes with the phone weighs just ounces.  Coupled with Omnipoint’s international roaming availability, it just can’t be beat.

Most international GSM carriers operate at a different frequency that their North American counterparts,  including Omnipoint.  Until this year’s debut of the Bosch World 718, North American business travelers or sightseers had to change handsets in order to use their GSM wireless service overseas.  That is no longer the case.  By using the Bosch 718, these subscribers may use their service in Boston or Brussels.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

Four Seasons Test: Olympus D-200L Digital Camera

Wednesday, April 23rd, 1997 by Jonathan Spira

When Olympus’ D-200L digital camera arrived at our offices, I was a bit skeptical.  After all, as an avid photographer, I had forsworn ‘digital’ photography in favor of the film-and-paper variety.  But the D-200L looked like a real camera, so I tried it.  What I found changed my mind about the future (and present) of digital photography.

No, the current crop of digital cameras won’t replace photography as we know it.  But it’s a tremendous step forward.  Sometimes, digital cameras are less appropriate than using film.  For example, if you want to make a lot of prints at your local 60-minute photoshop, don’t use your digital camera (yet).  I did learn when the use of such cameras is appropriate, such as when you have to transmit the image telephonically, or are planning on using the images on the Web or in desktop publishing.

The first feature of the Olympus D-200L that captivated me was the color LCD screen, which could display one or nine images at a time.  Instantly.  And you could delete images that didn’t come out ‘right’ just as instantaneously.  The D-200L allowed me to shoot in both high-resolution and standard formats.  The standard mode was quite sufficient for, say, reproduction on the Web, and the camera would store 80 standard resolution photos.

The image quality was impressive; the camera has a sharp, wide angle, macro lens (by Olympus, of course).  It also features red-eye reduction and fill flash.  Once you take the photograph, then the fun begins.  Using the included Adobe PhotoDeluxe software, you can make greeting cards, layouts, and newsletters.  And you can create a vast array of special effects, combining and retouching images at will.

But most importantly, the Olympus D-200L feels like a camera when you hold it in your hand.  And as any photographer will tell you, that’s the true test.

Jonathan B. Spira is the CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.  This article originally appeared in the Basex Online Journal of Industry and Commerce (BOJIC).

Four Seasons Test: Toshiba Satellite Pro 410CDT

Sunday, February 18th, 1996 by Jonathan Spira

Very few products were received in our offices with the welcome accorded this Toshiba laptop. Everyone wanted to play with it. It came loaded with really cool MPEG music videos, screen savers, and Windows 95. Our director of research loaded on the Pythonizer software, and turned on the typewriter noise (complete with a “bell” that rings when the Enter key is struck), much to the amusement of everyone who came into the conference room expecting to see a typewriter!

Our Toshiba 410CDT came equipped with a full-sized keyboard, an active-matrix 11.3-inch screen, 8 MB of RAM, 16-bit sound and microphone, and a built-in quad-speed CD-ROM (which can be removed and replaced with a floppy that arrived in an external housing). Windows 95, pre-loaded on the machine, is designed for the mobile environment, easily recognizing attached and detached drive letters. All in all, quite the road warrior machine.

The Toshiba came in handy on its first day in our offices, when a staff member was trying to load CD-based software onto a Lab network that had no CD-ROM drive. Using a very elegantly designed Xircom parallel port network adapter, he logged in and completed his task. Score one for portability.

However, mobility is far from the purpose for which this machine was designed. It is powerful enough to replace a Pentium desktop, if you plug in a keyboard and monitor. We are studying a Lexmark ergonomic keyboard, a marked improvement over the 410CDT’s keyboard. (The Lexmark will be the subject of a separate mini-test drive.) Add 8 MB of RAM, and you have a machine that is the envy of most desktops!

Of course, laptops were not designed to be used solely in the office, but everywhere, so I left New York for Rochester, Minnesota. With only 8 passengers in the main cabin, everyone had several rows to themselves — not a perfect test of airborne computing, which is more normally characterized by cluttered tray tables, seats reclined way too far, and tight squeezes in the dreaded middle seat. During the flight, I fired off several E-mails, which I queued to be sent when I remotely logged on to our network, reviewed some things in my ever-growing To- Do List, which Lotus Notes manages so well, and played with the screen savers and videos.

Continuing on the second leg of my journey, I had an interesting discussion with a manager from a food-ingredients firm about Lotus Notes, but the flight was so short and crowded that I didn’t bother firing up the Toshiba. Oh well.


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