Ericsson R380: Ericsson, whose stock soared more than 3,000% in less than a year, takes the cake with what will be the most advanced wireless product ever to hit the open market. The Ericsson R380 is a combination phone and PDA. It has wireless Web access, e-mail send and receive capability, and voice recognition. Due out this fall, the R380 is no bigger than your current cell phone and will retail for under $1,000. Pro: It has everything. Con: Find out what under $1,000 means. Visit www.ericsson.com.
Palm VII: The first pure PDA to go wireless is still the best. Driven by the dummy-proof, Palm platform OS (operating system), the Palm is still the best-selling handheld computer out there. The Palm VII comes with a wireless modem that lets you send e-mail and tap into the Web, as well as manage your investments and send instant messages. The Palm VII will cost you about $450 retail plus $10 to $45 a month for e-mail and Web access. Pro: Patented Web “clipping” technology. Con: No plans for phone integration. Visit www.palm.com.
Compaq IPAQ H3650: Compaq’s recent entry into the wireless PDA world is a winner. The IPAQ H3650 is silvery looking pocket PC with a built-in MP3 player (for you music buffs), full Web access, and a beautiful color screen driven by the newly re-released Windows CE OS. Going for about $500 to $800, plus $30 a month for Web/e-mail access (with modem), the H3650 may steal its looks from the Palm V, but the rest is all new! Pro: Sleek design and feature rich. Con: A little pricey for a PDA. Visit www.compaq.com.
Samsung SCH-6100: A combination wireless phone and mini-Web browser, Samsung’s entry into the wireless field is a solid one. Driven by the Sprint PCS system, the SCH-6100 phone has Net access and voice-activated dialing. Selling price is approximately $180 and it weighs only 3.1 oz. Also, by the time this goes to print, Samsung will also have on the market, a wireless device similar to the Ericsson R380 mentioned earlier. Pros: Small, compact, and sleek. Cons: Limited browser abilities and small screen. Visit www.samsung.com.
Honorable mentions: Nokia 8260 ($250), Motorola V8160 ($399), Nokia 7100 Series ($300).
Around the WebSlow to develop, the hvac industry online marketplace is finally shaping up. Aptly named, HVACIndustry.com (www.hvacindustry.com), the site comprises many outstanding commerce and resource tools directed solely at hvac professionals. The site contains bid teaming, purchasing pools, a job center, product information, and an hvac forum where you can share comments with other hvac folks. With a customizable start page providing you with news and weather for your area, HvacIndustry.com works hard to be the starting point for your online travels. As I write this, however, the site had still not gone live with its hvac mart and hvac auction areas, the two primary areas for e-commerce. Not quite sure when this will happen, but when it does, you can be sure that HvacIndustry.com will become one of the more prominent sites out there.
Another hvac-only site that seems to be gaining traction is HVACbay.com (www.hvacbay.com). Currently undergoing enhancements, the site allows you to post and buy new and used hvac equipment. It also contains a classified section and links to other sites. Its first offering, when initially launched several months ago, wasn’t much to write home about. But since that launch, the nice folks from New Mexico have made significant improvements and are on their way to having a first-class site. However, I would wait to see what kind of functionality comes out of this latest update before I start buying or selling product through the site.