CLONMEL HOTSPOT -- After my Sony Clie detected two hotspots in Clonmel in one short pass through pedestrianised areas, I realised Wi-Fi is not just another trendy blow-in and I wondered why those Wi-Fi zones couldn't be convinced to open up service to trusted customers--like journalists? If I could connect to a Wi-Fi access point, I would be able to file stories on the road--even from the courthouse itself. This would be really helpful and would collapse the time required to create a story. Also, the presence of Wi-Fi hotspots means there's a good potential for real-time reportage (or personalcasting as I call it in our media studies curriculum).
Taken together with a Sony Minidisc Recorder, the Sony Clie PEG UX-50 is a very practical addition to any journalist's bag of tricks. Although people like John Dvorak might demean its importance as merely another geeky gimmick, I could not imagine traveling without it. Unlike laptop computers, it doesn't invite inspection at airport security gates. Yet like laptops, it can create and edit Word and Excel documents. I use it to page through Powerpoint notes, Word files and spreadsheets. Its form factor is more polite than a big laptop screen and if you use the jog dial to scroll through files, people often fail to notice you're in another realm while you're sitting around a table.