Better, faster, cheaper: What to look for in technology this year

The Lab maps out its plans for 2011, with a focus on getting the most for your IT dollar

I love a new year, so filled with promise and expectations. Out with the old and in with the new. Of course those of us working in the technology field experience that all the time, as new hardware and software kill off older versions in a never-ending cycle of innovation.

With 2011 still having that new-year smell, I thought it would be a great time to look forward at what we can expect in terms of technology, and GCN Lab reviews, in the new year.

Probably the biggest factor applied to technology in 2011 will be the lingering effects of the sluggish (is that too kind a word?) economy of 2010. Although most people expect things to pick up, almost nobody is going to be throwing money at technology that isn’t guaranteed to do the job. The old joke that you can have it “good, fast or cheap -- pick two,” won’t hold up in the new year. Technology has to pretty much be able to accomplish all three goals. So the value score in each review we conduct this year will be weighted more heavily than before.

Also, reviews will not only look at the suitability of products for the federal government but also for the state and local government readers because they are probably going to be feeling the pinch even more than the feds.

Each issue, starting in January, will also have a theme for the Lab reviews section. This should make is easier for readers to zoom in on the types of products that are needed while at the same time opening the lab up to a host of new products from companies big and small.

The theme of the January issue will be The Homefront. These are products that are perfect for your office, but also your home office (or just your home.) We’ll be looking at some great products, such as an application that brings Flash content to your iPhone, a very cheap (under $30) way to keep your notebooks cooler and lasting longer, a technology designed to help typical cell phones get a signal in known dead zones (tested on the road in the Appalachian Mountains) and a couple other helpful and downright neat products.

For February, the theme will be The Armory. These are products designed for the military, police and first responders, and anyone who needs to maintain security for their offices and important files. Among the lineup in The Armory is a rugged projector system that enables the setup of a complete command-and-control war room anywhere, in almost any condition, a way to secure your agency’s communications gateway to prevent WikiLeaks-like breaches from putting egg on your face, a robust on-the-fly encryption engine and several pieces of rugged gear suitable for duty in Iraq or your local busy airport.

March brings us to Essential Technology (one of two sections with that theme this year), where we will be reviewing a brand-new multifunction printer that adds a new component to multifunction, the first time this has happened in many years. It will surprise you. We’ll also be looking at cheap printing technologies, a fire-and-forget utility suite and the latest in gear you need to do your job.

April takes us to school in our first ever Classroom section. We will be reviewing products designed for the educational market or just ones that make collaboration easier for busy government employees. Featured products are scheduled to include a short-throw projector that only needs a few inches of distance from the screen to create a huge image, a pocket-sized videoconferencing system, and a way to keep educational data secure and safe from prying eyes.

And although May is very far away, we can tell you that the Codes of Conduct section, which is our tricky way of saying software, has some heavy hitters already lined up, including a new Citrix product and some innovative Google applications.

It looks like 2011 will be a promising one in terms of technology as we finally start to get better, faster and cheaper all in the same boat. Perhaps happy times are here again?

About the Author

John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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