Summer holidays are upon us and in this week’s Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section, we look at the gadgets to take and how to protect them from sun, sea and sand.

There are reviews of ruggedised cameras, protective casings, charging on-the-go and how to avoid a big roaming cell phone bill on your return. Read more

Ahead of next week’s consumer launch of Microsoft Office 2010, the Friday Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section looks at the improvements and web extensions to this venerable suite of productivity programs:

“When I first got a personal computer – an Apple II, nearly 30 years ago – I played Pong for fun, used WordStar for word processing and put numbers into VisiCalc, the pioneering spreadsheet program. Read more

Tablet PCs were heavily featured at the Computex trade show in Taiwan this week and the Personal Technology column in Friday’s Financial Times looks at an offering from France – the Archos 7:

“If there was ever any doubt about whether there was a market for a multimedia tablet, the announcement earlier this week that Apple had sold more than 2m iPads in its first two months on sale would seem to have settled the argument.”

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The first fourth-generation cellphone in the US – the HTC Evo on Sprint’s WiMax network – is a fast, video-rich smartphone that can turn itself into a Wi-Fi hotspot. Read our Personal Technology review from the Business Life section of Friday’s FT:

“Even without its 4G mobile broadband capabilities, HTC’s Android-powered EVO 4G smartphone is an impressive touchscreen-based handset because it combines many of the best features found in other devices to produce what could start a whole new category, which might possibly be called ‘superphones’.”

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In this Friday’s Personal Tech column in the FT’s Business Life, we look at the best headphones and in-ear devices to attach to your MP3 players and cellphones:

“I may not have the ears of a true audiophile, but I do know that a good set of headphones or in-ear monitors (high-quality earbuds) can make all the difference. That is particularly true if you listen to high-quality “lossless” digital music files that preserve the full sound quality of the original recording.”

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In this week’s Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section, we look at whether the latest HTC smartphone is deserving of its superlative name.

“Names can become a hostage to fortune but Taiwan’s HTC clearly hopes this will not be the case with the Droid Incredible. While the latest in HTC’s rapidly expanding portfolio of smartphones may not quite qualify as “incredible”, it is perhaps the best Android operating system-based handset to date.”

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If the tech world rumour mill is correct, Apple could unveil the next version of its iPhone – somewhat confusingly dubbed by some the iPhone 4G, or more accurately the iPhone OS 4.0 - at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference which begins in San Francisco on June 7.

Compounding the confusion over what exactly 4G  does or does not stand for, Sprint will begin selling the HTC EVO 4G – the first WiMax-enabled smartphone  - a few days earlier on June 4. Read more

External hard drives and their new flexibility are the subject of this week’s Personal Technology column in the Business Life section of the FT:

“I have been testing a new 500Gb portable hard drive, the FreeAgent GoFlex Pro from Seagate, which brings the concept of modular design to data storage and enables each drive to be customised to a user’s changing requirements by selecting from an array of cables and desktop adapters.”

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HTC scored a hit with the Android-powered myTouch 3G when it was launched by T-Mobile USA in July last year. Now the Taiwanese smartphone maker has followed up with the myTouch 3G Slide which features a slide-out mini-Qwerty keyboard and the curiously named ‘Genius Button’ on the front of the handset.

Pressing the Genius Button enables users to use voice commands to control the phone and its features including making calls, composing and sending texts and e-mails or searching for a nearby restaurant. It will also read text messages aloud, and lets users  dictate and send responses. Read more

The evolution of digital photo frames has followed a familiar pattern in the consumer technology industry.

First generation devices had a fixed amount of internal memory and had to be updated by plugging them into a PC, second generation devices supported expandable memory and were updated using plug-in flash memory cards and the latest generation can be updated wirelessly – using Bluetooth, WiFi or a cellular connection. Read more

In this week’s Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section, we look at the options for staying online on the road:

“There are three basic ways to get online using a laptop and a mobile phone network: using a laptop with an integrated cellular modem; hooking up or “tethering” a laptop to a smartphone; and using an external cellular modem or personal mobile hotspot device such as Novatel’s MiFi.”

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In the Personal Technology section of the paper’s Business Life section this week, we look at the latest laser printer from HP:

“It was a shock recently when I realised a new set of ink cartridges would cost more than half what I had paid for my home office colour laser printer in the first place.”

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The latest Personal Technology column in the FT’s Business Life section looks at the new version of the Flip camcorder:

“The success of the Flip style of camcorder has encouraged rivals such as Kodak, Samsung and Sanyo to launch similar devices, but the Slide­HD is the first low-cost camcorder to feature such a large HD widescreen.”

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We look at compact DSLR cameras in the weekly Personal Technology section of the FT’s Business Life:

“The Micro Four Thirds system eliminates the bulky optical pentaprism and mirror that flips out of the way of the sensor when the shutter is pressed on a standard SLR camera, enabling the cameras to be much smaller and yet retain the advanced controls and interchangeable lenses that help define a DSLR.”

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HTC’s Android-powered  Evo 4G – the first Wimax-enabled smartphone which will be offered for sale by Sprint Nextel this summer in the US – was unquestionably the star of the telecoms industry’s CTIA show in Las Vegas this week. (See Chris Nuttall’s earlier post.) But it was not the only smartphone show in town.

Other new smartphones launched at CTIA included HTC’s HD2 which looks very similar to the Evo 4G but runs Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 6.5 and is available from T-Mobile immediately for $199  – if you can find one. Read more

When femtocells first appeared several years ago, they garnered little interest from mobile network operators which mostly saw them as expensive, difficult to manage and unnecessary.

Then the smartphone wave broke, mobile data consumption soared and some carriers including AT&T suddenly faced a capacity crunch in smartphone-heavy urban markets including New York and San Francisco. Read more

The Demo Spring 2010 conference kicked off in Palm Desert, California on Monday with a raft of applications, services and products focused on the mobile, social networking and media technology markets.

One immediate observation is that mobile apps, particularly iPhone apps, are everywhere – Gartner estimates that the mobile apps market will be worth between $20bn and $30bn by 2013. Read more

In Personal Technology in the Business Life section of the FT this week, we look at the Lenovo ThinkPad x100e and its rivals:

“The Lenovo ThinkPad x100e looks like a netbook, weighs about the same as a netbook and at $450 (£423 in the UK) is priced (almost) like a netbook. However, in terms of performance, its speed, screen resolution and keyboard outperform netbooks. This may be why the manufacturer classifies it as a laptop, albeit a small one.”

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Those innocuous-looking  ‘wall warts’ that plug into the mains to recharge the batteries in most portable electronic devices including mobile phones, laptops and digital music players have a dark side.

If you leave them plugged in after removing the portable device they continue to consume a small amount of power or ‘vampire energy.’ While the amount of energy wasted by a single wall charger is fairly insignificant, it quickly adds up if everyone does it. Read more

I had fun at Mobile World Congress last month demonstrating a new go-anywhere ruggedised phone from Sonim that can withstand being rolled over by a rubbish truck or used as a hammer to knock a nail into wood.

Now AT&T, the second largest US mobile network operator, has launched its first ‘intrinsically safe’ rugged device – the A25is smartphone by Aero WirelessRead more