Evolution Robotics Personal Robot System

The ER1 is [a very cool looking] robot for anyone interested in real robotics (not just toys). The robot platform features an industrial-strength, re-configurable aluminum chassis, plug & play, expandable electronics, a state-of-the-art computer vision system, and an open software control system with APIs and SDKs included. [Base price is $500, with expansion kits for extra power, robotic gripping arms, IR sensors, etc. costing between $100 and $200. Processing power provided by any old Pentium III 500 MHz or faster. Laptop not included.]

[Editors Note: Warning! Warning! The stench of a PR posting permeates the above. Still, the ER1 *is* an interesting approach to low-cost home robotics (for the tinkerer, anyway) and is worth checking out if you’re interested in such things.]

Low Cost PocketPC

A new PDA is on the way from Toshiba that is reportedly going to be priced around $200. The e350 (pictured right) follows the e310 and e330 line, and retains the super-thin form factor at less than .5 inches. With 64 megs of RAM, SD expansion slot, 3.5″ transflective TFT screen, and 300 MHz processor (with 200 MHz bus), it puts it squarely in competition with the Dell Axim line and HP 1910. Also introduced at the same time is the Toshiba e750, which replaces the e740. It will have dual expansion slots, 400 MHz processor, 96 megs of RAM, 3.8″ screen and on-board WiFi. Price for the e750 is expected to be around $600. Visit InfoSync for bigger pics.

Update: According to Brighthand the e350 is already selling in europe for around $300. The $200 price was based on rumors that Toshiba was going to try to have a model in that price range, but it now seems unlikely. My guess is that the e350 will be introduced at $300, with a $50 rebate immediately or soon available.

Smallest Phone from Panasonic

Let’s hope phones don’t get any smaller than this — I’ve already swallowed my current phone twice accidently, and this thing is literally half the size! The Panasonic GD-55 is about the same size as a zippo lighter, and could easily be mistaken for one of those fake toy phones sold to kids. I just played with one at a local electronics store, and I have to say I am incredibly impressed — this thing could be a keyfob! It operates on tri-band GSM signals, which means that it works wordwide. It comes in silver, pink, or red, and has limited organizer functions. It can also handle SMS or EMS messaging, and has T9 predictive text input. The downside is its limited talk-time of “1.6-7 hours” depending on backlight usage etc. Street price is around $250 available in the US right now.

Total Information Awareness is Too Much Information!

Turns out us geeks aren’t the only one who caught on to the now-removed CafePress Total Information Awareness store (previously blogged here on ST). According to the Washington Post, Nadine Strossen, President of the ACLU was given a TIA thong as a gag gift…

“Yesterday at the National Press Club, Strossen held up her thong — emblazoned with the logo of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Total Information Awareness program — to lampoon what she considers the government’s sinister intrusion into personal privacy…” – full article

Gotta love that. The Post actually has a picture, but it’s not available online.

Samsung Palm/Phone

Samsung has announced a new phone at CeBIT — the SGH-i500. It’s a Palm OS 5 based smart phone/PDA with 300 MHz processor, a whopping 32 megs of RAM (that’s huge for a Palm) SD slot for expansion, dual color screens (inside and out) and an integrated 640×480 camera. The inside screen is also high-res by Palm standards at 324×352. More specs and pics at Brighthand.
Price is unknown, but I’d guess around $700.

Vespa Gear

Spring is almost here, and for scooter afficiondados that means it’s time to ride — and just in time, Vespa has introduced a whole line of riding gear. Most of it’s pretty tacky retro junk, but the inclusion of the Vespa version of the Boblbee hard backpack means that someone at Vespa’s got some geek. Available in-store only for a whopping $215, you may need to think hard if you can justify spending the extra $45 or more just for the Vespa logo on your colormatched hardpack.

Solid-State Video Camera

The Pretec DV-4200 is a solid-state video camcorder that records to Secure Digital cards rather than videotape. It’s also a 2.1 megapixel digital still camera with a 1.8″ preview screen. The DV4200 records direct to MPEG4 compression at 30 frames per second, with audio in AAC. It can also handle other video input sources, such as “home movies” and record direct to the SD card. While this sounds pretty cool, limitations in the size and price of the SD cards make them a questionable choice for video cameras, though Pretec claims that up to 20 minutes of video can fit on a 64 meg card.

More Cool Phones

Two new phones are on the way to the US from Sony Ericsson. The T606 and T608 feature 128×128 16-bit color screens, J2ME (for downloading Java based games and programs), polyphonic ringtones, integrated PIM features and, in the case of the T608, Bluetooth. Both phones will be for CDMA networks.