One of the most interesting sections to look back on from our early CNET Australia archive is "3 things I can't live without". Pioneering our first concept of user-generated content, readers took the helm and submitted for publication the three tech products they most relied on in their daily lives.
Its tag line "Real people and the gear they love" summed it up. Here are some of the products our readers were passionate about in 2004, and the reasons they thought they were great.
Pardon the grainy photos. Web images five years ago were quite small in size and resolution!
Chris reminds us that Motorola phones were all the rage. He thought his Motorola A920 was leading edge technology, saying "It enables having the usability of a PDA, digital still camera, video camera and a phone in a single device. What makes it unique is the ability to conduct live video calls that can only be done on a 3G network."
Chris also loved his Belkin 24g router because he "often surfs the net in the comfort of my living room or out in the garden, with either my laptop or PDA." His third favourite gadget was his new GPS, the Navman PiN 100.
John bought his Ericsson T39m because it had all the features he wanted and the infrared port meant that he could write text messages on his notebook, which he thought was much quicker than typing on the phone's number pad. John added, "The GPRS and WAP browser provides instant internet access anywhere and the Bluetooth enables me to use it with my headset. It looks good too."
John thought the mobility of his Dell Inspiron 600m notebook was a real time saver and "because it has a Centrino processor, the standard battery lasts about three hours, which is also very useful for extended work away from mains. The high-res screen that I got with mine (1400x1050) means you can see more, and the 14.1-inch screen size means that it is not too bulky. The 64MB video card with its own RAM (not shared) makes it not bad for games too."
Dean couldn't live without his BenQ pe5120 projector. He bought because its native widescreen was "great for the new digital broadcasts". He added "It's a good looking unit in white, easy to use with a decent (substantial) remote control — and now the pricing is under $1500. Everyone should have one!"
Mohd used his BenQ Joybook S52e at the office for browsing, email, chatting, letter writing and a lot of presentations using MS Office. "It's a great notebook, very light, I think it has all the necessary functions and the required portability."
Cam bought his Blue Ant Car Kit because it connected seamlessly with the latest Bluetooth phones, could be moved into any car very easily (sits on the visor), had a high-quality speaker, and "wouldn't become obsolete since Bluetooth is set to be around for a while. Plus it doesn't require a special connection, for example, Pop Port. I feel very free without cables. And other people with different brands of phones can use it".
In addition to his Apple iPod, Greg nominated his Apple iBook because it "helps me satisfy my creative urges and gives me hours of joy. It's got Bluetooth, Airport and iChat and I can do anything with this baby except connect to my Nokia 3330" (the third gadget he couldn't live without).
Jeffrey Choo had an Apple iPod Mini on his list, but in a practical bent, he also listed Microsoft Office 2003 as something he couldn't live without. He bought Outlook because it "synchronised emails, contacts, calendar events, and notes with my Palm at the time, and now my 7610, so it complemented my lifestyle. Outlook lets me download emails from a variety of servers and also works with Hotmail and MSN Messenger. These features are important to me so it was an obvious winner."
Tony Wong loved his Sanyo DC-DA370, because it played music on CD, cassette and radio formats without taking up much space on his desk. "It also has a clock with an alarm that wakes me up in the morning so I am not late for school!"
Tony Pizzamiglio thought his Cordless Trackman was saving his wrists from certain destruction. "The Trackball allows you to move your pointer and tools around on the PC without having to roll your wrist around your desk, and is particularly good when I'm working on graphics. It also makes me laugh when others try to use it without practising."
Jody nominated her 800MHz Apple iBook. She had a desktop Macintosh G4 at home that she used for video editing and graphic design, but while working as a travelling videographer she missed her own equipment so decided to buy the iBook second-hand on eBay.
"It has become something I never leave home without. I started off just editing my videos on it, then it became something I'd use to write stories and diary entries with daily. Now I listen to my music in iTunes and upload digital photos to iPhoto. I watch DVDs in bed at night in youth hostels. I also go 'Starbucks-hopping' in the US to use their wireless internet to stay in contact with everyone at home and to update my web page on the go. When not travelling I use it mainly as a jukebox and go back to using my desktop system.
It's proof that you don't need to get the absolute up-to-the-minute latest technology to be satisfied. And, of course, it looks funky. It's very intuitive and has never caused me any problems. I'd sleep with it in bed if it wasn't so hard and pointy. My only problem is I don't have a DVD burner included — but I am about to buy an external burner to solve that."
While recognising that she couldn't live without her Motorola mobile, Jody wasn't that enamoured of her prepaid phone.
"I wasn't concerned with phone features — just price — and it was the cheapest model. The only thing it has going for it is a half-decent predictive text capability. It's also quite small and lightweight and can be thrown into walls and still work. Other than that it's a very basic model. I only use it to receive the odd call and screeds of text. Actually, I'm addicted to text so for me it does the job fine. I can hear the incoming beep of an SMS through walls and up stairs and have been known to fall asleep phone in hand waiting for the latest hot date to text. But never trust me to actually answer a phone call.
"I wouldn't recommend it to others, and I'm saving for a fun phone with more features. I'd love PXT and downloadable fun ringtones and all that girly accessorising that goes with the main brands like Nokia. It also needs to be charged too often and who wants a small monochrome display these days?"
John's Casio Exilim Z3 3-megapixel camera had 3x optical zoom and a 2-inch LCD display. "At the time I bought it (June 2003), it was the best for size, speed of start-up and intershot time with a large display."
John also thought his Acer Ferrari 3000 had great specs — it was loaded with AMD Athlon 2500+ processor, 512MB RAM, 60GB HDD, DVD burner, Bluetooth, 802.11b/g, 10/100BaseT NIC, SXGA+ display, 128MB VRAM ATI Radeon 9200 graphics chip, four-in-one card reader, four USB 2.0 ports and a FireWire port.
His third favourite gadget was his Sony Ericsson HBH-600 headset. He loved its great design, four-hour talk time and comfort. He used it for driving, but warned "just don't wear it everywhere while not in use, you won't look cool".
Jarrod considered his phone a fashion accessory and loved that his Motorola V525 was loaded with features. He had stepped up from polyphonic to MP3 ringtones, but especially loved its Bluetooth capabilities. "Now I can transfer any pictures [and] sounds direct from my PC to my mobile for wallpapers, ringtones and MMS messaging. No charges, no wires! And all those rumours you've heard about 'toothing' ... they're true!"
Jarrod was also chuffed with his LG flatscreen TV, Pioneer DVD player, digital set-top box with its 80GB hard drive and surround sound system. "Once you go digital, you never go back!"