Best Wireless Products of 2003

By Jim Louderback  |  Posted 2003-12-08 Print this article Print

Wireless Topic Center Editor Jim Louderback picks the best products and services for 2003, including two that could push wireless out to even more people around the world.

It was a great year for wireless, as new capabilities seemed to come out with stunning regularity. But even in a year when so many great things were released, a few products rose to the top. Here, in no particular order, are my favorite new products and technologies for 2003. TREO 600: You can just see the board of Palm pulling a Victor Kiam the first time they saw Handsprings Treo 600: "We liked the product so much, we bought the company." And so Palm did, absorbing Handspring just as the Treo 600 hit the market, renaming itself Palmone. The hybrid phone/PDA is that good. Its the first combo device that works well as a phone, yet offers enough PDA capability to be truly useful that way too. Of course nothings perfect – if only it had a removable battery and Bluetooth. Still, if youre looking for a combo phone/PDA, this is the one. 802.11g: I pooh-poohed this faster 2.4 gigahertz wireless LAN standard when it first came out – but that was before I saw the benchmarks and before prices dropped to well below 802.11a. By December, Cisco, Microsoft and almost everyone – except Intel – had embraced 802.11g as the way to get fast and cheap wireless networking. Now if only Intel would admit Centrinos 802.11a failure and jump on the g bandwagon, the world would be complete.
802.3af: Huh? Another alphabet soup standard? Well this ones important. It specifies sending power down a standard category 5 or 6 unshielded twisted pair cable, to coexist with Ethernet. How does it work? Either by using the idle pairs (4,5 and 7,8) or commingling power and data over the same wires. What it lets you do is truly amazing – locate an Ethernet device anywhere you can run a cable. That means access points can be put where theyre needed (not where a plug is located), Ethernet security cameras can be put where they can spy on everything, and IP telephones need only a single cable to connect to the world. Our eWEEK Labs tests show that power-over-Ethernet (POE) devices are simple to install, and work great.

With more than 20 years experience in consulting, technology, computers and media, Jim Louderback has pioneered many significant new innovations.

While building computer systems for Fortune 100 companies in the '80s, Jim developed innovative client-server computing models, implementing some of the first successful LAN-based client-server systems. He also created a highly successful iterative development methodology uniquely suited to this new systems architecture.

As Lab Director at PC Week, Jim developed and refined the product review as an essential news story. He expanded the lab to California, and created significant competitive advantage for the leading IT weekly.

When he became editor-in-chief of Windows Sources in 1995, he inherited a magazine teetering on the brink of failure. In six short months, he turned the publication into a money-maker, by refocusing it entirely on the new Windows 95. Newsstand sales tripled, and his magazine won industry awards for excellence of design and content.

In 1997, Jim launched TechTV's content, creating and nurturing a highly successful mix of help, product information, news and entertainment. He appeared in numerous segments on the network, and hosted the enormously popular Fresh Gear show for three years.

In 1999, he developed the 'Best of CES' awards program in partnership with CEA, the parent company of the CES trade show. This innovative program, where new products were judged directly on the trade show floor, was a resounding success, and continues today.

In 2000, Jim began developing, a daily, live, 8 hour TechTV news program called TechLive. Called 'the CNBC of Technology,' TechLive delivered a daily day-long dose of market news, product information, technology reporting and CEO interviews. After its highly successful launch in April of 2001, Jim managed the entire organization, along with setting editorial direction for the balance of TechTV.

In the summer or 2002, Jim joined Ziff Davis Media to be Editor-In-Chief and Vice President of Media Properties, including, Microsoft Watch, and the websites for PC Magazine, eWeek and ZDM's gaming publications.


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