You’ll Flip for the new BlackBerry

When we think of BlackBerry smartphones, we often think of hunched-over, claw-fingered business executives, thumbs scampering over tiny keyboards. Eager to shed this image of its customers, Research in Motion is introducing the BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220, which looks like a standard-issue flip phone.

The Flip uses SureType technology to mimic a BlackBerry’s keyboard. Instead of 26 tiny buttons, the Flip has multiple letters assigned to each keypad number. You hit a few keys to spell out words; a predictive spelling checker ensures against gibberish.

The phone also downloads e-mail messages and can connect to instant-messaging and social-networking services. It has a 2-megapixel camera and can play music and videos. It includes a 256-megabyte microSD memory card, can hold up to 16 gigabytes and has Research in Motion’s scroll ball.

The Flip will be available through T-Mobile this fall (price information was not yet available). An external microphone and speaker let you make calls without flipping open the phone. The Flip’s "casual Friday" design has another stealthy advantage: employees and bosses can continue to obsess over what is happening at the office without looking as if they are.

— John Biggs/New York Times


Even more to admire from a heavy-duty camera

A September surprise, the Canon 5D Mark II popped up Wednesday at the big biennial battleground for camera makers, the Photokina trade show in Cologne, Germany.

The original 5D, though three years old, is still the heavy-duty camera of choice for a legion of admirers thanks to its full-frame sensor, which produces colorful, detailed images.

Cosmetically the same, the new version shoots full HD video and even better still pictures. The larger data stream from a 21-megapixel sensor is handled by more efficient amplifier circuitry and a new signal processor, the Digic IV, for a reduction in digital noise. Pictures are clearer and sharper, and a light sensitivity setting up to ISO 25,600 produces good pictures in very low light.

MPEG4 video can be shot for up to 29 minutes, depending on the content, at the high-definition resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels at 30 frames per second. A stereo external microphone can be connected, but the built-in mike is mono.

The camera, which will ship in November, will sell for $2,699 for the body alone. For $3,499, Canon will throw in the newly updated 24-105 series II all-purpose zoom lens.

— Marty Katz/New York Times

A portable hard drive that is easier to park


Portable hard drives can make for great traveling companions. Their cords? Less so.

Short USB cables are fine when connecting a hard drive to your laptop in a hotel room, but using the same equipment to connect the drive to a processor under a desk can lead to back pains, banged heads and outbursts of profanity.

Seagate’s FreeAgent Go hard drive is the first portable, self-powered drive to feature a docking station (the dock is optional for Windows-compatible devices and included in Mac versions). Connect the 6.35-ounce dock to your PC and you can sync up like any iPod or (think back) PalmPilot.

The Mac version of the Go drive ($160 for 250 gigabytes and $190 for 320 gigabytes; a 500-gigabyte version is in the works) is preformatted for Mac OS X and works with Time Machine, Apple’s backup software.

The Windows version ($120 for 250 gigabytes, $150 for 320 gigabytes and $240 for 500 gigabytes) is compatible with Windows Vista and XP. It also has software for automated backups, encryption and password protection. So even if you lose your data, it will be hard for anyone else to find it.

— Azadeh Ensha/New York Times

This iPhone add-on keeps track of your treks

The Global Positioning System functions on the new iPhone may be great for drivers, but what about people who enjoy bipedal locomotion? Thankfully, RunKeeper from FitnessKeeper lets them track their runs, hikes and walks almost anywhere.


The program costs $9.99 on the iTunes App Store. While the iPod Touch, the iPod Nano and the iPod Classic all support the Nike-plus iPod pedometer, RunKeeper does them one step better by tapping into the native GPS capability of the iPhone 3G. While a person is jogging, RunKeeper displays the current pace, distance and time as well as a bar graph of the speed over time. After the run, the program automatically uploads the data to Log in there to see a Google map of the route as well as the run’s total distance.

In a few tests, the iPhone’s GPS chip had trouble finding the exact location but still recorded the speed and distance at the end of the run. The program works best in wide-open areas, as city coverage is a bit spotty. Additional tips and tweaks can be found on RunKeeper’s site, including advice on buying the right waterproof case for training with your phone, ensuring the phone doesn’t get as hot and sweaty as you do.

— John Biggs/New York Times

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