All sorts of notebook computers are available with the usual peripherals found on desktop models. But IBM has added a new and novel input device to its highly successful ThinkPad line of laptops; a notepad. The TransNote combines a ThinkPad with a real paper notepad on which you can scribble handwritten notes. But anything and everything you write can be instantly transferred into the computer.
According to IBM, this heralds a new series trend that will let users access the computer using more traditional ways of recording information, such as handwriting.
Handwriting is an already proven technology because of the success of the Personal Digital Assistant. With a stylus, most PDAs will accept some sort of handwriting, and practically all of them are controlled via a stylus. TransNote users can enter data via the keyboard, notepad or the unit's touch-sensitive screen. The unit comes in a portfolio-styled cover that allows access to the computer, notepad or both. Weighing in at about 5.5 pounds with a pivoting 10.4-inch screen, the TransNote is to be available this month.
PERSONAL DIGITAL ASSISTANTS such the Palm PDA can fit into a pocket. But the best-dressed man should have a suit pocket designed specifically for a Palm organizer. The Japanese Onward Kashiyama Co. makes a suit called the ICB Suit/Palm Computing, which comes with an M100 Palm organizer in a specially designed pocket.
HOW ABOUT A digital camera that can almost fit in your wallet's credit-card pocket? The Ultra-Pocket is 6 millimeters thin, connects to your computer via USB and comes with a removable 8-megabyte card that stores 40 pictures. The Ultra-Pocket will be on sale in the spring at a yet undetermined price. For information, visit SMaL Camera Technologies at www.smalcamera.com.
SMELL-O-VISION TV SET never became a reality, much to the dismay of those who predicted its coming, starting in the 1950s. However, it looks like something similar just might make it to dealers' shelves. DigiScents is a shark fin-shaped peripheral that can actually mix and match chemicals to produce realistic smells, including coffee and chocolate. According to its developer, special "Scentertainment" software will communicate with the igiScent unit to produce whatever smell may be desired. Stinky Web sites that use the enabling odor technology will let you sniff your way through restaurants, supermarkets and even a zoo. Games like Word Sniff let you spell aromatic words, and Scent Blaster lets you play smelly games. You might think that something stinks after reading all of this, but it's a real product and there's nothing fishy about it.
Craig Crossman is a national newspaper columnist writing about computers and technology. Visit his Web site at www.computeramerica.com.