Upcoming smartphones, e-readers and other gadgets could make life easier for accountants.

Dana “Rick” Richardson of Richardson Media & Technologies in Canton, Conn., described some of the latest technologies during a keynote address Monday morning at the 2010 California Accounting & Business Show & Conference in Los Angeles. Richardson contrasted some of the newer e-readers on the market, including the various models of the Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, and Barnes & Noble’s new Nook. But those are already facing competition from the Apple iPad and Windows-based tablets from Dell, HP, Lenovo, Panasonic and Motion Computing, some of which are already on the market but will be gaining touch-screen capabilities in the near future.

In the smartphone market, Richardson praised RIM’s Storm 2 as a big improvement over the original Storm model. RIM is considered by Fortune magazine to be the world’s fastest-growing company, Richardson noted, but he believes times are getting tougher for RIM as it moves more into the consumer space. Not only that, but the setup of its network sometimes exposes BlackBerry users to widespread communication outages.

RIM is also facing increased competition from Apple’s iPhone and various Google Android phones that have been hitting the market. Apple’s telecommunication partner, AT&T, has experienced its own issues with bandwidth on its 3G network, especially in densely populated areas like New York, but that could improve now that AT&T is changing its data plans to put more limits on usage. Apple’s newly unveiled iPhone 4 also will have some brand-new capabilities including video calls and iBooks, and the ability to work over faster networks.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is making more of a bid to revamp its phone software, with Windows Phone replacing Windows Mobile. The new software borrows some of the interface from Microsoft’s Zune media players, with an “accelerometer” for playing games.

Richardson also discussed some of his favorite gadgets, including Tivit’s TV Tuner for smartphones and the ZOMM “wireless leash” for Bluetooth smartphones, which emits a high beep when your phone is over 30 feet away to help you avoid losing it.

Richardson also sees promise in a technology known as “augmented reality” that is already being tested in Paris to display the nearest Metro stations and other landmarks overlaid on a smart-phone’s camera viewer. He also likes the Solarbrella, a solar power-generating umbrella that can charge up cell phones, laptops and other devices. Even when you’re in the great outdoors, it’s still nice to be able to plug in when necessary and stay in touch with clients.