September 21st, 2009
05:21 AM GMT
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HONG KONG, China (CNN) – What do they say about clouds and silver linings?  Well, in the world of technology, there is an upside to the economic downturn: Cheaper gizmos and gadgets.

The popularity of the netbook is a good example of that, according to Jim Erickson, senior editor of business and technology at TIME magazine.  "These are very small, very cheap, very basic personal computers," he told me at an electronics store in Hong Kong.  Erickson believes netbooks are sure to be popular with budget-conscious students this back-to-school season.  "Just about any netbook selling for less than $300" is a good buy, says Erickson.

His picks?

1) Asus Eee PC 1005HA. "The screen has gone up from 7 inches to 10 inches," Erickson says.  "Keyboards have started to spread out a little bit so they are easier to type on."

2) Acer's Aspire One D250. "Very connectable," he explains.  However, he says the shorter battery life - two hours versus the Asus model's six hours – makes it a less attractive choice for those who want to take notes on their netbook during long lectures.

Here are some of Erickson's other faves for this autumn:

1) HTC Android-powered mobile phones such as the Magic.  These phones are similar to Apple's iPhone with "touch sensitive screen and scrolling."   However, Erickson says HTC phones are generally more affordable and the Google operating system gives users connectivity with Gmail and Google maps.

2) Creative Vado Pocket Video Cam VF0570. "It's a cheap, one-button video camera for taping lectures," Erickson told me.  The Vado is less expensive than other pocket cameras such as the Flip Mino, he says, and has a user replaceable battery.  (You can swap the battery after two hours of shooting in high definition.)  Erickson believes the new iPod Nano, which has incorporated a small video camera, is also likely to be a strong competitor to the Flip.

3) Sony Reader. "For textbooks and reading PDF documents such as notes," Erickson says.  The new Sony Reader has Wi-Fi and competes with other e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle.  Erickson is a fan of the technology which he believes will eventually allow students to carry all their heavy textbook reading in a single portable device.

What devices do you recommend? Share with CNN.

Filed under: RecessionTechnology


soundoff (One Response)
  1. Jan

    I think the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen is essential for note-taking in class. The pen records what you're hearing and connects it to what you're writing. It's perfect for reviewing notes and lectures. The added advantage is that with the audio recording, you don't need to take as many notes.

    September 21, 2009 at 7:39 am |

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