The Latest Gizmos to Spur Your Tech-Toy Lust

New York Times technology columnist David Pogue reviews the gizmos on display at two major technology trade shows last week: the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco. Pogue says Apple's iPhone tops the techie lust list.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

On Mondays we talk about technology during the business report, and there has been a torrent of technology news. Two big industry shows coincided last week - the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. David Pogue is technology columnist for the New York Times, a regular guest here. He went to one of these conferences and kept an eye on the other. David, good morning.

Mr. DAVID POGUE (Technology Columnist, New York Times): Good morning.

INSKEEP: And what caught your eye?

Mr. POGUE: Well, you couldn't really miss the iPhone. This is Apple's combination widescreen touch-screen iPod, cell phone and wireless Internet tablet. It was such a big deal to Apple, in fact, that at the keynote presentation Steve Jobs totally skipped mentioning a little other product they had called the Macintosh. Didn't mention the computers, barely mentioned iPods, and completely failed to mention another really significant new product that they have available now - didn't even mention it. Which is a new wireless base station, you know, to set up a wireless network in your house. It's five times faster, twice the range, and it has a cool feature where you can plug in any hard drive directly into this thing, and suddenly any computer in the house can access whatever is on it - pictures, music, videos.

INSKEEP: Sounds like you think some of those other products might be at least as significant as the phone.

Mr. POGUE: No, no, no. I don't mean to imply that. That would be insane.

INSKEEP: Okay.

Mr. POGUE: The phone is it, man. That is all anyone will be talking about between now and June when it comes out.

INSKEEP: Five hundred dollars. Are people going to pay $500 for something they can drop down a sewer grate?

Mr. POGUE: Dude, they will be paying $900 on eBay for the first ones. They will be beating each other in line like fighting over the latest Furby before Christmas. I mean I am not, you know, marketing for Apple. There are distinct disadvantages to it.

One is it is Cingular only, for at least the next two years. So don't ask if you can ask if you can use it on Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile, the answer is no.

INSKEEP: David, as we reported on this program last week, Cisco sued Apple within minutes, apparently, of this iPhone being announced. They're suing over the rights of the name. Could this be a serious problem?

Mr. POGUE: I don't think so. It's my understanding that in this country different product can have the same name as long as they're not the same kind of product. So the iPhone is a cell phone - the one from Apple - and the iPhone from Cisco is something that connects calls over the Internet. In fact there are three other products called iPhone. They're all in different categories.

INSKEEP: So this isn't going to be like the deal with Blackberry where the actual technology was at issue and there were questions about Blackberry would even be forced out of business.

Mr. POGUE: No, won't be like that. I mean worst case, they change the name. It's not as though consumers will say, you know, what is that thing? I mean you see this phone and you'll know which one it is.

INSKEEP: Okay. Now at these two electronic shows, there was a lot of talk of connectivity and electronics merging with entertainment, which is something that a lot of entertainment executives are extremely interested in.

Mr. POGUE: I'm sorry, this just cracks me up. This is exactly the same theme that the Consumers Electronics Show had in 2005, 4, 3 and 2. Every year the theme is the connected home. Every year. You can Google it. Oh, we're going to connect your TV to your computer and you will be able to enjoy the music and videos from your couch.

And, you know, I - do you know anyone in your neighborhood who has connected their TV to their computer?

INSKEEP: No.

Mr. POGUE: I don't. I think it's geek land and it's years away. People sit down in front of the TV when they want to turn their brain off and be entertained, not when they want to be the active driver, clicking and dragging and so on. So it's all still too technical. It's still too expensive. And it's a solution for a problem that I don't believe exists.

INSKEEP: Well, David Pogue, technology columnist of the New York Times. Thanks very much. Go reward yourself. Watch some TV, turn off your brain.

Mr. POGUE: Thanks a lot.

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