Welcome to Reviews OnLine: Hot Products
ComdexFall2001
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Hot Products
by Rick Smith (November 11, 2001)

Standout Products from the show floor:

01 Communique
2C Computing
Cardiff
Celestix
Contour Design
Corel
CTX
Digital-Square
E-Pen InMotion
Franklin
Hitachi
IOGEAR
Iomega
IRIS
LaCie
Logicube
Orange Micro
Panasonic
Philips
Saunders
SCM Microsystems
TDK
TechSmith
Toshiba
Triplex
Verbatim
Vertical Mouse
Xplore Technologies


01 Communique’s
I'm InTouch

You're out of the office and you need access to a file on your PC. What do you do? If you left your PC connected to the Internet, and had signed up for 01 Communique's I'm InTouch remote access service, you would be all set. You would then be able to remotely access all of your PC files and your company's Outlook email.

I'm InTouch provides secure, remote access to files on your PC or networked drives from any browser. You can remotely manage, download and upload these files and view their contents (over 50 different file formats are supported).

Microsoft Outlook and the RIM Blackberry service is specifically supported by I'm InTouch. Since Outlook email is processed directly at the desktop, you don't have to move, copy, re-examine or synchronize your messages you return to your "home base" PC.

For about $100 per year, I'm InTouch provides a direct, peer-to-peer, 128-bit SSL-secured connection from your remote device to your PC. Your data never passes through a host server. A unique 3-piece passcode is used to help make this connection work behind virtually any firewall or proxy.



Windows I'm InTouch desktop screen

01 Communique's I'm InTouch runs on PCs with Windows 98 SE, Windows ME, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000 workstation or Windows XP Professional. 

 


2C Computing's Cstation
While the trend of personal computing has flourished over twenty years, many corporate IT departments want to have all the corporate computing power completely under their control. This way, hardware can be locked for security, backed up centrally and powered by a single UPS system. Since PC users still want to work at their desks and in their offices, 2C Computing's Cstation models provide a powerful compromise solution for everyone involved.

The Cstation L1100 and C1100 allow a PC to be digitally "extended", up to a half mile away (over 800 meters), using fiber optic cable. Now the PC chassis can be physically relocated to a central secure environment, leaving peripherals unaffected. IT organizations can also use rack mount systems or CPU blades as computing platforms and use Cstations to deliver the "desktop" computing experience to the end-user. In addition to centrally located upgrading, maintenance, repair and replacement, other features of the 2C Computing Cstations are:

  • USB ports can be centrally controlled

  • PCI expansion slot at user's desk

  • undetectable emissions (no eavesdropping)

    Since user peripherals easily plug into a Cstation, which is connected to the actual PC at over one Gigabit per second cabling, end users do not "feel" much of a difference. Their monitor, keyboard, mouse, PDA docking station, removable media devices, digital cameras and other peripheral devices, including multiple monitors and digital video interfaces work as if the PC were still connected to a desktop system. The ability to use a PC, with all of its familiar capabilities, ensures a smooth transition to the centralized Cstation environment.

    The Cstation C1100 and L1100 both consist of two components:

  • C-Link PCI adapter installed in actual PC

  • Cstation module that resides at user's desk

    Optional mounting brackets can mount Cstations vertically or horizontally under a desk or cabinet, completely out of sight. This technology transparently supports any operating system, including Linux, since it requires no device drivers or software.

    Cstations run from $895 to $2500 per unit depending on type and cable configuration.

    Here is an example of a Cstation C1000 that uses CAT 5 Ethernet cable for up to a 100-meter connection between the Cstation and the PC:



    Cstation C1000

     

     


    Cardiff LiquidForms
    Paperless office on the horizon
    Computer systems have promised less paperwork for years now and the results have been less than spectacular. Now, there appears to be a standards-based solution arriving very soon -- LiquidForms, from Cardiff Software, a leader in XML-based e-business automation solutions. Adobe has recently announced an alliance with Cardiff and that LiquidForms supports Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) standard.

    LiquidForms is an XML-based eForm Management System that runs on Windows PCs and Sun Solaris servers. When fully deployed, it helps enable the paperless workplace by allowing routing, approval, submission and signature approval. Workers browse the organization's centralized eForm repository and fill out the form, according to their workflow process. They can then route the data on their completed forms directly into their ERP, HR, database or other back office application, using only a standard browser and Adobe Acrobat 5.0. No specialized plug-ins or Java filler applets are required.

    Cardiff LiquidForms also:

    - is based upon Cardiff's work within W3C XForms Working Group (Cardiff is technical editor for the XForms Specification)

    - coincides with our government's recent e-initiative of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act

    - requires no proprietary form design format

    The LiquidForms eForm Management System is composed of three basic parts:

    - LiquidForms Designer (to create and publish on-line forms)

    - LiquidForms Web Server (to route, process and administer forms)

    - LiquidForms Web Desktop (distributes automated forms to worker community)

    This product is clearly destined for larger corporations and government agencies, but may have some application for smaller businesses. The trial edition of the Designer is downloadable from Cardiff and is also bundled with Adobe Acrobat 5.0.

    In May 2001, LiquidForms Designer for Windows will ship, with a list price starting at $1,000 per seat with volume discounts. The other system components will also be available then and can be delivered in two distinct configurations. The Workgroup version that supports a 100 log-in maximum is $15,000, while the scalable Enterprise version starts at $30,000.



    LiquidForm Designer screen
     

     


    Celestix Taurus Server Appliance
    Setting up an enterprise-class server for your small business can be a daunting task. You need to choose the hardware, configure it, chose the software, install that software and hope you got everything right. Now there is an easier solution -- the Celestix Taurus Server Appliance. It provides everything you need to get started.

    With a single purchase, from a single vendor, you get all the necessary hardware, software, peripherals and cabling necessary to accomplish:

  • file and printer sharing

  • high-speed Internet access

  • e-mail storage and retrieval

  • scheduled back-ups

  • Firewall security

  • Intranet information sharing

  • DHCP and DNS services

  • IP address sharing

    Since the Celestix Taurus includes built-in networking software pre-installed and pre-configured you can have your server running in about 15 minutes. You can administer your server locally from its LCD front panel or remotely using a web-based admin tool. Since this server can support wireless 802.11b, it can easily be made into an access point. Now you can easily add or move workstations, without having to lay cable over your floor or in your walls.

    The seven pound Celestix Taurus is about the size of a toaster, operates on Linux 2.4 and supports up to 500 users. Several models will be available in January 2002 and will retail for under $2000. 

     


    Contour Design ShuttlePRO
    Video editing can be produced with good software and a fast PC. Unfortunately no matter how well this editing software simulates an analog edit console, clicking and dragging a mouse is not as fluid as using a real console. Contour Design has solved this dilemma with the ShuttlePRO, a USB peripheral, that gives you the "hardware feel" of an editing suite console for only $125.

    The ShuttlePRO multimedia controller includes:

  • "Shuttle Knob" - easy fast forward and fast rewind access

  • "Jog Wheel" - precise frame-by-frame control

  • 13 "buttons" - fully programmable to any keyboard shortcut

    The ergonomic positioning of the buttons, jog and shuttle controls allow easy one-handed access to a multitude of functions and operational shortcuts. The rubberized spring-loaded shuttle knob is comfortable and easy to grip. The ShuttlePRO's clear button caps are removable and can be labelled.

    Contour Design supplies special software to help customize the ShuttlePRO for different audio, video and multimedia software applications. Some of these are:

  • Adobe Premiere & After Effects

  • Apple iMovie, Final Cut Pro & QuickTime

  • Artel Boris RED

  • MGI VideoWave

  • Steinberg Cubase

  • TDM Systems ProTools

  • ULead MediaStudio Pro & VideoStudio

    Commonly used commands such as mark in, mark out, frame advance, scroll or any other keyboard shortcut can be easily defined. Games such as UnReal Tournament or Quake can be made easier but you can also realize enhanced productivity with any software package using the ShuttlePRO's programmable controls.



    Angled image showing programmable button layout

     



    ShuttlePRO side angle showing thickness of jog wheel

    Unfortunately, for Windows users, the ShuttlePRO only supports Windows 2000, with an XP version coming soon. (Mac users will need OS 8.6 or later, with Mac OS X drivers upcoming.)

    The ShuttlePRO is 7 3/4" (L) x 4 1/4" (W) x 1 1/4" (H) and weighs under one pound. It is currently shipping. 

     


    CorelDRAW ESSENTIALS
    Powerful synergy
    One of the newest members of Corel's creative software collection is CorelDRAW ESSENTIALS, which retails for $109. Based on a combination of CorelDRAW 9 and Corel PHOTO-PAINT 9, this software package also includes other useful utilities and graphic files.

    The CorelDRAW portion provides vector illustration capability and page layout tools, along with an extensive array of effects and creation tools. The Corel PHOTO-PAINT portion provides image and photo editing capabilities, including image composition, image enhancement, masking and artistic brush tools.

    This synergistic combination of these tools help you create:

  • illustrations

  • brochure layouts

  • home renovation and landscaping designs

  • family and home-office stationary

  • greeting cards

  • calendars

  • Web graphics

  • enhanced photo collections

  • QuickTime VR panoramas

    The other useful utilizes and graphic files included are:

  • Corel CAPTURE 9

  • Canto Cumulus Desktop LE 5.0

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0

  • QuickTime 5 Player

  • Digimarc Digital Watermarking

  • Human Software Squizz!

  • CorelTUTOR QuickTour Movie

  • 5000 high-quality clipart images

  • 1000 high resolution photos

  • 1000 photo objects

  • 100 TrueType fonts

    Being a new product, CorelDRAW ESSENTIALS has been optimized for the Intel Pentium 4 processor and Microsoft Windows XP.

    This suite includes more than 70 import filters and 40 export filters encompassing a wide variety of file formats. ESSENTIALS is also compatible with industry-standard bitmap plug-in effects, as well as TWAIN to make image import from scanners and digital cameras easier. Some of the key compatible formats are:

  • Adobe Photoshop (PSD)

  • Microsoft Word (DOC)

  • Windows Metafile (WMF)

  • Graphics Interchange Format (GIF)

  • Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG)

  • Kodak PhotoCD (PCD)

    CorelDRAW ESSENTIALS runs on Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0, and Windows XP. Sorry, not Windows 95. French and German versions are available in addition to English. 

     


    CTX MS3600VF
    If you need a huge flat monitor and don't like the poor "off-angle" viewing capability of some LCD displays, the CTX MS3600VF Pure Flat Monitor could be what you need. It features a whopping 36 inch diagonal and HDTV compatibility.

    Key specifications of the CTX MS3600VF are:

  • CRT -- 34" viewable Pure Flat

  • Dot Pitch -- 0.82mm

  • Max non-interlaced resolution -- 1024x768

  • DTV resolutions -- 720P/1080i/480P

  • Horizontal frequency -- 31.5kHz - 52kHz

  • Vertical frequency -- 50 Hz - 120 Hz

  • Screen ratio -- 16x9

  • Overall Dimensions (WxHxD) -- 40"x25"x25"

  • Weight -- 190 lbs

    Also included are built-in amplified dual stereo speakers, a powered subwoofer, a remote control and the Vision Box. The CTX Vision Box contains analog television jacks, VGA input connector, S-video jacks for DVD/VCR/VTR connections, TV-tuner, RF cable and advanced video inputs (Y/Pb/Pr) for high-end DVD/HDTV sources. PC connections are available in both the front and rear of this monitor for easier connectivity.

    The CTX MS3600VF has been designed for a wide range of uses. Some of them are:

  • Classroom training

  • Corporate presentations

  • In-home entertainment

  • Security monitoring

  • Tradeshow displays

  • Graphics computing applications

  • Electronic Content creation

    The CTX MS3600VF retails for $2,999 and features a 2 year on-site warranty. 

     


    Digital-Square PA30
    MP3 player and voice recorder
    Digital-Square has created a growing family of small pocket MP3 players from those with simple LED status indicators, to units with multi-function graphical displays. Future variations include models with "Karaoke-style" lyrics and image display, along with even greater memory capacity.

    The Digital-Square PA30 MP3 player features both built-in memory (16, 32 or 64 Mb) along with a Multimedia Card (MMC) memory expansion slot for up to 128 Mb additional capacity. This model also features an easy-to-read electro-luminescent (EL) backlight display that can show time along with playback, battery, USB and system status.

    Audio data can be easily transferred to and from this PA30 MP3 player via a USB cable, but the PA30 can be used as an external USB "hard drive" if desired. The file transfer rate for the internal flash memory is 300 Kbps and for external MMC memory is 160 Kbps.

    Other features of the Digital-Square PA30 MP3 are:

  • Easy operation -- 4 button control

  • Tiny size -- 2.95 inch x 2.05 inch x 0.59 inch

  • Lightweight -- 1.59 ounces without batteries

  • Long battery life -- up to 10 hours (2 AAA)

  • Long voice recording -- 8 hours with 64 Mb

  • Headphone audio output -- 5 mW per channel

  • Automatic shut-off

  • Great S/N ratio -- more than 85 dB

  • Low THD -- less than 0.1 %

    Optional accessories include a remote controller and an arm/belt clip. Currently shipping. 

     


    E-Pen
    Natural Writing in a Digital World
    Writing on paper is a natural, human experience that has existed for hundreds of years. E-Pen InMotion has created the E-Pen, a truly 21st century product that utilizes your natural ability

    The E-Pen system consists of a wireless digital pen, writing controller and necessary software. Using this system, you write messages and drawings on any type of paper and they are translated into digital ink. Your notes are now easily accessible by a PC or compatible mobile device -- you don't have to change the way you have worked for years, just because you want to also store your writing digitally.

    Setting up the E-Pen is an easy 4 step process:

  • Install included E-Pen DigiWrite software

  • Plug in the receiver to the USB port

  • Clip the included receiver onto paper sheet

  • Start writing and/or drawing

    Your writing is now digitally transmitted (via ultrasonic and infrared technology) to your computer. Since anyone who can use a pen can now use the E-Pen, there is virtually no "learning curve" to get used to this device.

    Some specific applications are:

  • Students taking notes in class

  • Attorneys' notes during trials

  • Retail Business signature authentication

  • Medical prescription authorization

  • Financial transaction approval

    The E-Pen retails for $179 and is currently available. The E-Pen is Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows CE compatible. Interface models are available for either USB or serial PDA.

    Some of the key feature of the E-Pen are:

  • Works on any flat surface (no special paper)

  • Weighs 15 grams

  • About the size of a large Mont Blanc pen

  • Writing area boundary is about 8 x 10 inches (A4)

    Initial Impression



    The weight and balance of the pen is good is comfortable to hold in the hand. 

     


    Franklin eBookMan
    The Franklin eBookMan provides one of the largest viewing areas (240x200) of any currently shipping PDA sized device. This large display can also be switched to landscape mode, so that the displayed information can more easily be read. While the eBookMan works very well as an electronic book reader, the eBookMan also:

  • Doubles as an audio book player

  • Plays MP3 files

  • Performs organizer functions (date book, address book, to do list)

  • Stores memos

  • Uses Natural Handwriting recognition ( no Graffiti)

    Available in three models, the Franklin eBookMan interfaces to the host PC via USB or optional serial connection. Storage memory can be expanded up to 64 MB using a MultiMediaCard device.

    Models of the eBookMan start at $129.95 for an 8 MB unit. For $179.95, backlighting is added and the top of the line costs $229.95. It features a larger 16 MB of memory and a backlit screen.

    All units use the Franklin operating system, which can be upgraded in the future using downloads from the Internet. eBookMan's proprietary, 32 bit microprocessor is patented and runs at 24 MHz. This processor also:

  • features a hardware multiply for faster calculations

  • easily interfaces to RAM, ROM and flash memory

  • provides a real time clock

  • has a built-in LCD interface with touchscreen support

  • includes a stereo audio module

    This level of integration makes the eBookMan run longer on batteries. eBookMan docks to your system via USB or optional serial adapter and is currently shipping. 

     


    Hitachi CML153B & CML153
    Cool and Flat monitors
    Flat monitors are getting thinner and lighter. The Hitachi CML153B is a 15" TFT flat panel LCD monitor, which has one of the thinnest bezels ever sold in the US market. The CML153B uses a black bezel, while the CML153 uses a white bezel.

    The Hitachi CML153B also:

  • Displays distortion-free images (even at the edges)

  • Saves desktop space (13.9" W x 15.5" H x 5.5" D including base)

  • Features auto-adjust function for quick picture adjustments

  • Can be arm or wall mounted with additional third party arms

  • Meets VESA Flat Panel Monitor Physical Mounting Interface standards

  • Has bezel integrated speakers with headphone jack and volume control

  • Uses an anti-reflective coating

  • Provides worldwide regulatory compliance including Energy Star.

  • Uses 25 Watts typical (monitor only) -- less than 5W at standby & power off

  • Features digital controls

    Technical specs of both the Hitachi CML153B and Hitachi CML153 include:

  • 0.297 mm pixel pitch

  • 300:1 contrast ratio

  • 200 nit typical brightness

  • 1024 x 768 maximum resolution

  • 120 degree H x 85 degree viewing angle

  • 31.5 - 60 kHz & 56 - 75 Hz frequency range

  • 15 standard settings

  • 15 pin D-sub signal input

  • +35 / -5 degree tilt



    CML153 (ivory model)



    CML153 on edge showing flat viewing surface

     

     


    IOGEAR ION
    As USB 2.0 becomes reality, new peripheral devices are starting to ship. IOGEAR has recently introduced the unique ION hard drive enclosure. You simply place a 2.5" portable hard drive into the ION, connect the USB cable and you are ready to save data.

    Instead of having different models, with different sized drives, IOGEAR is selling only the enclosure, which saves you money. It also is very useful when you upgrade your laptop's IDE hard drive. Instead of simply being a conversation piece, your old hard drive can now be used as a mobile storage device.

    The $119 IOGEAR ION transfers data 40 times faster than previous USB 1.1 devices and:

  • Serves as a archive backup

  • Saves MP3 libraries

  • Transfers files from a PC to Macintosh

  • Can be less expensive than removable media

  • Stores personal data privately (instead of on your corporate laptop)

    Since the portable ION is fully backward compatible with USB 1.1 laptops, you can use the ION to transfer data from your older laptop to your new one. ION supports Windows 98 SE, Windows 2000, Windows ME and Windows XP, as well as Mac OS X and greater.

    IOGEAR's ION (part number GHE125U) includes necessary cables, is currently shipping and has a one year warranty. 

     


    Iomega Peerless
    If you are facing data overload and require better data management, you will welcome the innovative and high capacity modular drive platform from Iomega - the Peerless Drive System. This approach is important for the following reasons:

  • Addresses major needs in numerous business and consumer vertical markets.

  • Growth in the rapidly expanding digital music and digital imaging marketplace requires ever increasing removable capacity. This revolution is just starting.

  • Modular design is usable for both PC and Macintosh users and appears to offer good scalability at affordable costs - about a penny a megabyte according to company. Relocation of the hard drive electronics from the disks to a base station is said to be a first in the hard drive industry.

  • Read/write heads are fully sealed to eliminate dust contamination.

  • Security is addressed by using chip based identifier technology which protects against unauthorized attempts to read information.

    The Peerless drive also:

  • offers 5, 10 and 20 GB capacities using proven hard drive technology

  • retails for $249. Peerless disks should retail for $129 (5 GB capacity), $159 (10 GB) and $199 (20 GB).

  • has a usable size and shape (about the same as a PDA - 5 inches tall by 4 inches wide)

  • has transfer rates in the 15 MB/sec range.

    It should be shipping by the middle of 2001. 

     


    IRISPen Executive II
    There are several different completely mobile digital "highlighters" that read what you "scan over" on the market today (see Wizcom ABC). Image Recognition Integrated Systems has developed the IRISPen Executive II, which is different because it utilizes the added power of an attached PC, for improved character recognition.

    Because of this increased computing performance, the IRISPen Executive II not only reads clean text faster, but also reads dot matrix and other lower quality text documents. Other key capabilities of this grayscale OCR Pen scanner is its ability to:

  • Read colored text on colored backgrounds

  • Recognize 56 different languages

  • Read bar codes and hand-printed numbers

  • Perform text to speech capability

  • Accurately scan directly into application

  • Emulate your keyboard

    Image Recognition Integrated Systems (IRIS) has used the wisdom they gained in developing the Readiris Pro 6.0 software for flatbed scanners and have integrated it into the IRISPen. The IRISPen connects to your PC using a "plug & play" USB cable which provides power to the scanning element. The PC software provides:

  • Control of brightness for image improvement

  • Image despeckling capability

  • Grayscale image storage

    The recognition speed of the IRISPen is up to 1,000 characters per second using a Pentium II 400 MHz PC.

    The IRISPen Executive II saves you time retyping critical information because you simply "highlight" the desired information and it transferred directly into your desired Windows application. Potential users of the IRISPen are:

  • travelling executives

  • database managers

  • journalists

  • secretaries

  • doctors

  • attorneys

  • teachers and students

  • bank employees

    The IRISPen II retails for $199 and requires a minimum of a Pentium based 166 MHz PC with 16 MB RAM, 30 MB of free hard disk space, USB port and a CD-ROM drive. It runs on Windows 98, Windows 2000 and Windows ME. (Windows 95 OSR2 usage is possible with correct USB port configuration). 

     


    LaCie DVD-RAM/R
    While some DVD writers are content to create DVD-R or CD-R media, the new dual technology LaCie DVD-RAM/R drive can create DVD-RAMs as well. This capability gives you the ability to randomly read and write to 4.7 gigabytes of removable storage.

    The LaCie DVD-RAM/R drive is hot-swappable and features high performance FireWire connectivity. This plug-and-play drive automatically detects the system interface and configures this connection when it is plugged in. Because it then behaves just like any other drive in the computer system, you can conveniently move this drive among workstations, without having to shut down or reboot each machine.

    Key features of the LaCie DVD-RAM/R are:

  • Transfer rate - 2x (equivalent to 20x CD rate)

  • Seek time - 75 ms DVD-RAM / 60 ms DVD-ROM

  • Burst rates - 22.16 MB/s (max.) 4.7 GB DVD-RAM

  • Buffer capacity - 2 MB

  • Write compatibility - DVD-RAM, DVD-R General

    The external LaCie DVD-RAM/R drive is able to read CD-ROM, CD-R, CD-RW, CD Video, CD-DA (audio), VideoCD, DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-Video or DVD-RAM media. It retails for $629 and ships complete with cables, software drivers, DVD authoring software and backup software. This drive is compatible with Windows 98 SE, ME and 2000 (Macintosh OS 8.6-9x).

    The media

    DVD-RAM media offers the random-access capability and performance of a hard drive to provides near instant retrieval of files or video frames. Built-in error correction, more than 100,000 overwrites and a 30-year data life makes DVD-RAM a great solution for backup/recovery and editing videos prior to pre-mastering. DVD-RAM media is available at $20 for the single-sided 4.7 GB disc, and $35 for the double-sided 9.4 GB disc.

    DVD-R General media offers a write-once format and 100-year data life. This is a great solution for secure storage and archiving. In addition, DVD-R General discs can be played back by most DVD video players and DVD-ROM drives in use throughout the world today, so the media discs can be easily shared. LaCie offers 4.7 GB DVD-R General media in a 5-pack for $39. 

     


    Fast Handheld Cloning
    Logicube Solitaire - Fast Hard Drive Replicator
    This handheld unit from Logicube clones (copies) one hard drive to another in minutes. This can be very helpful if you sell computer systems, need to configure systems for a training room or in some way need to configure completely identical systems.

    The Solitaire copies IDE hard disk drives at 850 megabytes per minute (5400 rpm drive) and can also format and “wipe” a drive clean to DOD (Department of Defense) specifications.

    Priced around $850, this compact device is a bargain if you need to be cloning drives on a regular basis. If, on the other hand, you have only one or two drives to clone, PowerQuest’s Drive Copy or Drive Image might be a cheaper solution, but make SURE to check their licensing agreement for your intended application.

    The Logicube Solitaire can also be used in the field by technical staff to quickly backup an entire hard drive BEFORE performing repairs or doing that “simple” installation that ends up losing ALL your data. The Solitaire provides the ideal safety net, allowing you to quickly (and accurately) restore ALL your data and programs if something goes wrong.

    For really serious applications, Logicube offers a complete line of drive cloning devices that can clone anywhere from 2 to 15 drives at a time! Now that's cloning. 

     


    Orange Micro OrangeCombo PC Card
    Orange Micro has created a new CardBus PC Card for laptops, which combines the two new ports that your current laptop probably doesn't have -- USB 2.0 and FireWire.

    The OrangeCombo PC Card provides two USB 2.0 ports and one FireWire port on a single type II PC Card. Key features are:

  • All ports can be used simultaneously

  • External power provides 500 mA per USB port

  • Supports Windows 98 SE and newer

  • FireWire video editing software included

    The USB 2.0 ports are "backward compatible" with all USB 1.1 devices. USB 2.0 peripherals will run at 480 Mbits per second, while USB 1.1 peripherals run at 10 Mbits per second. Ports on the OrangeCombo can function at the same time as the existing USB 1.1 ports on your laptop.

    The OrangeCombo PC Card has an MSRP of $139 and will be shipping in March 2002. 

     


    Panasonic SL-MP50
    Now you can play the two most popular digital audio formats with a single portable device. The Panasonic SL-MP50 combines a CD player with an MP3 player that plays back 5 inch CD-R or CD-RW MP3 disks.

    Key features of the SL-MP50 are:

  • Anti-Skip ability -- physical design combined with electronic technology help to absorb smaller shocks and quickly deal with larger shocks that could cause music "skips"

  • Multi-powered -- car power adapter included, also runs on two standard or rechargeable AA batteries or optional AC adapter

  • Simple to control -- top mounted control buttons, arranged in a semi-circle allow easy touch operation

  • Hold switch -- prevents accidental button pushes while moving

  • Large LCD display -- provides immediate disk status

  • Easy disk removal -- unique "pop-up" mechanism makes CD changes smoother

  • Long battery life -- two AA alkaline batteries can run for up tp 15 hours of MP3 playback or 30 hours of continuous CD playback

    For each audio format, the Panasonic SL-MP50 provides similar capabilities such as Skip, Random Play, Repeat play and Random programming.

    The most powerful technology provided by this Panasonic model is its "No Skip" system. Key features of this technology are:

  • Unit designed with rubber bushings to absorb shock

  • Thin and light (low mass and low inertia) read mechanism

  • Digital servo system detects fractional track errors and corrects them before getting completely "off track"

  • Horizontal shocks (parallel to CD plane) can be recovered in 40 milliseconds

  • Vertical shocks (perpendicular to CD) are recovered in 300 milliseconds

  • Error correction for rotational speed can deal with +150% to -75% extremes

    While these are excellent specs, music could still be silenced (briefly) during the recovery period. To deal with this, Panasonic engineers have added a 40 second memory back-up that starts to play until the tracking error is corrected. During MP3 playback, this buffer is extended to 100 seconds (with 128 kbps audio compression).

    The Panasonic SL-MP50 includes stereo headphones and lists for $139.95. It will be available in October 2001. 

     


    Philips PCRW2010
    Quick, yet reliable
    With consumer demand for faster CD recording speeds, the latest CD-RW drive from Philips features 20x recording, 10x rewriting and 40x reading speeds. The Philips PCRW2010 also incorporates advanced, proprietary technologies that help to deliver faster speed while minimizing errors.

    Utilizing SeamlessLink technology, the PCRW2010 virtually eliminates buffer "under-run" errors, a common cause of recording failure and wasted media. This technology monitors the CD recording status and if necessary, pauses the recording when the data buffer becomes nearly empty. Once the buffer is again filled, the recording is resumed exactly where it was paused for a successful and "seamless" recording.

    CD recording integrity has been increased by also adding Thermo Balanced Writing (TBW) technology. TBW technology optimizes the PCRW2010's writing capability by adjusting the laser power for different types and qualities of CD-R disks. This helps to minimize the chances of data retrieval problems.

    Philips has made the installation process easier, by including video instructions to show you exactly how to mount this drive into your PC. The installation software automatically checks the PC configuration and updates key parameters to optimize CD recording and rewriting performance.

    The Philips PCRW2010 is supplied with Nero software from AHEAD. This powerful software helps you easily create CD-Rs and CD-RWs right out of the box, because of Nero's simple, intuitive user interface. The PCRW2010 drive also supports the CD text function, which allows the display of additional text information recorded on CDs.

    This drive has been available since late summer 2001. 

     


    Saunders RhinoSkin
    Saunders manufactures the RhinoSkin series of molded hardcases for many PDAs. One of their recent introductions was for the Palm m500 and m505.

    Key features of this aluminum RhinoSkin are:

  • First metal hard case for Palm m500/ m505

  • Offers superior protection over leather/cloth

  • "Cigarette case" clamshell design

  • 100% anodized aluminum construction

  • Scratch-resistant finish

  • Neoprene interior

  • Folds flat like a book

  • Is about 4.7" x 3.3" x 0.6" in size

  • Weighs about 2.5 ounces

  • Currently available

  • Retails for $49.95

    The Saunders RhinoSkin 31604 protects against drops and collisions and is rigid enough to protect against crushing.

    If aluminum protection isn't enough, Saunders also has a titanium version for about $100. Both models feature an IR port cut-out for easy data "beaming" when opened.



    Saunders RhinoSkin and Palm m505 folded flat

     



    Saunders RhinoSkin closed

     

     


    Dazzle 6 in 1 reader
    I prefer to transfer images or other data, directly from flash media using a reader, instead of using cables. Since many digicams can only download the images that they created, they effectively "orphan" any images or files that were created using a different digital device. SCM Microsystems has introduced the Dazzle 6 in 1 reader that reads and writes all of today's most popular flash media formats and solves several problems.

    Using an external flash memory reader you:

  • No longer have to carry a special cable for each digital device (there isn't a standard digital download cable)

  • Don't waste any battery power during the download process

  • Don't have to install download software for each digital device

  • Download faster since some digicams use serial interfaces

    Unfortunately many card readers only work with a single style of flash memory. Instead of using multiple cables, you then need to a separate reader for each format. To simplify this problem, the SCM Dazzle 6 in 1 reader accepts six different types of media in a single, plug-and-play USB device.

    The Dazzle 6 in 1 reads and writes:

  • CompactFlash (CF) Type I

  • CompactFlash (CF) Type II

  • IBM MicroDrive

  • SmartMedia

  • SD Card

  • MultiMediaCard

  • Sony's Memory Stick

    The dual-slot design is upgradeable for future formats and allows copying between media types. In addition to transferring images this reader can also be used as a removable disk drive, limited only by media capacity (read about SanDisk's new one gigabyte compact flash media).

    Included with the 6 in 1 reader is Dazzle's OnDVD. With this software program, you can quickly transfer images from your digital camera to your PC and easily create a photo slideshow. You can then burn this slideshow onto a CD for playback on any DVD player.

    The SCM Microsystems Dazzle 6 in 1 reader supports Windows 98 using drivers. Window Me and Windows XP require no additional software drivers to be installed because this reader is mass storage compliant. It was introduced at Comdex Fall 2001, is currently shipping and retails for $69.99. 

     


    TDK blueM
    Bluetooth technology has been discussed for several years. TDK Systems is now shipping a Bluetooth enabled clip-on device for the Palm m500 PDA.

    Key features of the TDK blueM are:

  • Low power consumption

  • Lightweight - (one-ounce)

  • Wirelessly hot sync to PCs

  • Conforms to Bluetooth wireless standards

  • First Bluetooth device for Palm 'm' series

  • Simple to use

  • Offers 1 button access to any Palm m500 app

    The TDK blueM attaches to the back of Palm m500, m505, m125 handhelds and also fits onto IBM C500 devices. When attached, you can use dial-up networking to access emails and browse the Web. It retails for $199. 

     


    TechSmith SnagIt 6.0
    6.0 is TechSmith's most recently released version of SnagIt. It provides time savings and added simplicity when capturing images from Windows screens, browser screens or interactive games. This latest version also includes image filters for better captures and supports layered window capture in Windows 2000 and XP.

    I have used SnagIt/32 for many years and have found it to be a stellar product -- a product that works every time, works well with other applications and doesn't crash your system. Many of the screenshots found on Reviews OnLine site were taken using this older SnagIt software.

    While SOME Windows screens can be captured using the printscreen (Prt Sc) key, SnagIt goes far beyond this simple capability. SnagIt 6.0 is able to:

  • Capture every image on a Web page simultaneously, as well as capture all images on pages linked to the primary page.

  • Support DirectX, the dominant imaging technology for games and CAD, by allowing real-time screen captures of dynamic images without degrading system performance.

  • Produce better looking and crisper graphics using enhanced image filters

  • Capture text from applications or screen areas not supported by "cut and paste"

    The new enhanced viewer included in SnagIt 6.0 includes a zoom capability to give you the ability to edit images at the pixel level. Also included is a zoom and pan capability to help you see the fine details in your screen captures.

    These enhancements to version 6.0 give SnagIt the ability to quickly create screen captures to use in:

  • Sales presentations and reports
  • Trade show demonstrations and CDs
  • Quick e-mails
  • Software documentation
  • Help desk workflow and diagnosis
  • Computer based training (CBT)

    SnagIt is currently the world's most popular screen capture software and has more than 3.5 million users. Version 6.0 supports Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows ME and Windows XP. It is available immediately and has a suggested retail price of $39.95. 

     


    Toshiba PDR-M71
    The PDR-71 is Toshiba's latest digicam and features quality and value. Key features include:

  • 3.2 Megapixel digital sensor
  • MSRP of $499
  • Canon all-glass aspherical macro zoom lens
  • SmartMedia storage
  • 2.8 optical zoom
  • 2048 x 1536 maximum resolution
  • Multiple exposure control modes
  • Histogram display
  • 100/200/400 ISO
  • Built-in flash
  • USB cabled
  • Runs on 4 AA batteries
  • Lightweight (8.5 ounces)

    This latest Toshiba camera packs quite a few sophisticated features, not generally found on sub-$500 digicams. Some of these advanced features are a 5 mode flash system with red-eye reduction and its ability to accept third-part accessory lenses, such as wide angle, telephoto or fish-eye.

    The 2.8 times optical zoom of the PDR-71 has a 35-98 mm 35mm equivalent, which is useful for both still images and AVI movie recording.

    You can film up to three minutes of video at 160 x 120 at 15 frames per second or 60 seconds of AVI at 320 x 240, also at 15 fps. Sound is recorded using the camera's built-in microphone. White balance can also be adjusted. Videos are played back using a computer monitor, a television (NTSC/PAL) or the PDR-71's 1.5-inch color LCD.

    To make the camera easier to use, especially during fast, continuous shooting, Toshiba has used improved digital signal processing (DSP) technology along with adding a logical user interface. Toshiba's goal was to create a "product that you could hand to someone who has never used a digital camera and they likely would not need an instruction guide to operate it". Some of these key ease-of-use features are:

  • Automatic focus and setting adjustment in fully automatic mode

  • An easy to use control dial

  • Zoom that can be changed using either thumb or index finger

  • Each function of the camera is clearly marked on the control dial with an icon

  • Shooting modes and options are changed through the LCD menu

    For the advanced shooter, the PDR-71 has both shutter and aperture priority automatic exposure, along with a REAL manual mode where you can set both shutter and aperture independently. The histogram feature is usually found only in very high Kodak digital cameras that start at over $5,000. Viewing a histogram display immediately after a picture is taken really helps you to determine if your image is really good or going to surprise you when you view it with Photoshop.

    The Toshiba PDR-71 captures images in three different sizes (2048x1536, 1024x768, 640x480) with three different compression percentages (fine, normal, basic).

    Looks like this camera will definitely heat up the competition in this $500 price range. 

     


    Triplex Millennium Silver
    The new Triplex Millennium Silver graphics (AGP) card looks so impressive that I wish computer cases had clear covers to show off its beautiful, state-of-the-art electronics. While this Triplex board looks pretty with its shiny silver-colored coating, the technological benefits of this coating include more effective cooling, less electro-magnetic interference, higher stability and less environmental pollution.

    Besides coating the surface, Triplex has also coated the inner layers of this card. Some of the key benefits of the Millennium Silver over conventional graphics cards are:

  • 15% better cooling rate

  • 47% lower interference (EMI)

  • Improved reliability for performance applications

  • Reduction of lead used in manufacturing

    Triplex is a leading Asian manufacturer and specializes in 3D accelerator cards and sound cards. It has been in business for ten years and never comprises its product quality. Triplex is headquartered in Taipei Taiwan, with branches in China and Hong Kong. 

     


    DataLifePlus 32X CD-R media
    While CD-RW drive speeds are increasing at a frenetic pace, CD-R media manufacturers not only need to provide media for today's drives, but need to create faster media for the drives of tomorrow.

    Verbatim is now shipping DataLifePlus 32X CD-R media. This new media provides 80-minutes (700 Mb) of audio, video and data recordings at speeds up to 4.8 MB/sec. This media uses Verbatim's "Super Azo" recording dye technology, which delivers stable, error-free recording at any speed between 1x and 32x. Without sacrificing reliability or durability for speed, DataLifePlus 32X CD-R media also provides a long archival life and good UV stability.

    The "Super Azo" technology used in DataLifePlus 32X CD-R media is based on patented Metal Azo technology. Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, Verbatim's parent company, originally developed this technology for advanced CD, DVD-R and other storage media. By re-tuning key media characteristics, such as sensitivity to laser light, to ensure sharper pit burns at higher recording speeds, this new "Super Azo" technology was created.

    Tests indicate that Verbatim's Azo recording layer is more stable than most other recording dyes and is the least affected by ultraviolet light. For improved reflectivity and maximum read/write performance, the silver reflective layer of each compact disc is safeguarded with a dual-protective layer.

    Verbatim DataLifePlus CD-R media delivers an archival life of more than 100 years. Verbatim is currently testing this 32X media to ensure the broadest compatibility with both current and future CD-ROM drives. Backed by a lifetime warranty, this new media will be available in singles, multiple-disc packages and spindles. 

     


    Vertical Mouse
    new shape reduces stress
    The "Mouse" has been around for over 20 years and has been available in a wide variety of styles and shapes. Vertical Mouse has created a new ergonomic model that supports your hand in a natural, handshake position.

    This mouse features:

  • USB or PS/2 interface

  • Supports Windows 98 and above

  • Less stressful than conventional mice

  • Eliminates arm twisting

  • Supports the fingers in extended positions

  • Completely stable when pressing the buttons

  • Supports the thumb for additional comfort

  • Reduces repetitive use injuries



    Hand position while using Vertical Mouse

    This mouse has five buttons although these images show only four. Three are on top, for the fingers and one is under the scroller. A thumb button will be added to the production model.

    The Vertical Mouse retails for $39.95 and will be available after August 2002.

    How does it work?

    Because of its shape and design, the Vertical Mouse keeps the arms in a comfortable, relaxed position



    Less bone twist with Vertical Mouse

    A conventional, horizontal mouse forces the hand and forearm to be twisted almost 90 degrees out of the neutral position. This results in wrist discomfort after prolonged use and could lead to long term injury.



    Increased bone twist with conventional, horizontal mouse

    Some conventional mice are slightly slanted which does reduce arm twisting, but not as much as the new Vertical Mouse. 

     


    Xplore GeneSys Maximus
    Sunshine capable, rugged tablet
    While tablet computers are here to stay, they are being pushed into outdoor environments where other competing technologies (including paper) don't work as well. Unfortunately, most of today's active LCD technology becomes very difficult to read in direct sunlight. Xplore Technologies has recently introduced a patented LCD technology that "feeds off" direct sunlight, to help alleviate this problem.

    The GeneSys Maximus pen tablet uses an advanced 12.1" Active Matrix Color Transflective LCD that was engineered to provide optimal viewing in direct, intense sunlight. The brighter the sun is, the brighter the LCD becomes. The Maximus is the latest member in a family of rugged mobile computers from Xplore Technologies. This tablet was specfically designed for challenging outdoor mobile and field applications and a user-controlled backlight has been included to enhance the screen brightness when used in dimly lit or dark environments. This LCD technology will greatly enhance field worker's productivity, because they won't have to stop to shade the screen with their hands or search for the proper lighting conditions to read the screen. If you don't believe how useful this can be, take your color pen tablet (or laptop) outside and try to use it in direct sunlight.

    This magnesium-cased, 5.0 lb GeneSys Maximus operates in extreme environments such as:

  • Temperatures extremes of -14 F to 140F

  • Four inches of rain per hour - 40 mph winds

  • Hundreds of extreme "off-road" miles

  • Shocks in excess of 40 g

    These vibration, shock, rain, dust, humidity and temperature extremes easily exceed the "operational parameters" of the human using this tablet computer.

    The standard configuration for the GeneSys Maximus is with a 500 MHz Mobile Intel Pentium III CPU, 128MB of SDRAM, a shock-mounted 10GB hard drive, 8MB of video RAM and a smart rechargable Lithium-Ion battery back. Through the use of advanced power management, this battery provides up to 6 hours of use. The GeneSys Maximus has an MSRP of $5,895 and will begin shipping during the last quarter of 2001.

    It has a very cool "lights-out" mode for Law Enforcement and emergency situations, but other key features are:

  • Integrated wireless communications

  • Unit certified to MIL-STD 810F standards

  • A digitizer rated for over 35 million touches

  • Dual sealed USB ports directly on the unit

  • Programmable membrane keys

  • An ergonomic design that can be used in both mobile and fixed (vehicle) applications

    Even the GeneSys Quick Release (GQR) Docking Station is engineered for extremes. These warm docking units provide typical port access including USB, serial, parallel, external monitor, PS/2 and speakers.

    The best proof of ruggedness is that the GeneSys Maximus is backed by a 3-year warranty. To me, this proves that Xplore Technology truly believes in their product. (Many consumer laptops and electronics barely have a one-year warranty.) 

     

    Want to see all this page in a more compact form? View the linked version of this article. It's a smaller download than this page, and each product's information is only a link away.

    Copyright © 2006 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

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