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Business in Vancouver: News that works for you

Office tools do everything but pour your coffee
Printers that scan and copy; electronic flip charts and a Windows network in your palm 

by Alan Zisman (c) 2002 First published in Business in Vancouver ,  Issue #670  August 27- September 2, 2002: GearGuide column

Over the past two decades, businesses have spent billions of dollars on office technology. (Reminiscent of McDonald's, Intel recently celebrated its billionth PC, for example). While it has sometimes been hard to quantify return on investment, here are some of the latest products promising to help you be more efficient at work.

It's a copier. No, it's a printer.

HP Digital Copier Printer 610 does it allHewlett-Packard, fresh from its merger with Compaq, has released more updated products than ever. Among its newest is the $800 HP Digital Copier Printer 610. Promising up to 18 copies per minute in either black and white or full colour, this desktop-sized combo-unit is aimed at small or home offices. Features include double-sided printing/copying and faded-text enhancement, which can make copies look better than the original. Printouts can be resized and margins can be shifted for binding or hole-punching.

The company has also released a pair of new models for its Officejet all-in-one line. The $800 Officejet d135 includes a legal-sized bed for scanning and copying, fast print speeds, and optional network capabilities. The $1,300 Officejet d155xi includes memory-card readers for digital photo printing, a 250-sheet paper tray and double-sided printing and collating. A Jetdirect print server is included for network and Internet printing.

Both models include built-in fax, one-button copy capability and document feeders for unattended multi-page scanning and faxing.

Whiteboard without the board

Many meetings rely on whiteboards for sharing notes and diagrams. Digital whiteboards such as the Smart Board by Smart Technologies (www.smarttech.com) take it a step further, letting users save whiteboard drawings into their computer.

And with the $1,100 eBeam 3 (www.e-beam.com), made by Electronics for Imaging (www.efi.com), you don't even need a whiteboard. This portable device attaches to the corner of a standard whiteboard or even a paper flip chart, connecting to your computer via a long serial or USB cable. Writing on the surface with any of the four coloured markers transmits your drawings to your PC. Alternatively, a plastic stylus can be used as a remote-control mouse, handy for controlling your PC when projecting it onto a screen.

Included software (PC and Mac) allows you to let others join your meeting remotely across your local network or the Internet, sharing your whiteboard, and participating via text chat or even sharing audio. Remote participants can make notes on to the whiteboard pages. The company's optional $400 Imageport Memory Module lets you run the eBeam without connecting it to a PC, capturing the whiteboard images for later transfer to a computer. Canadian distribution is via Digital Dynamic (www.digitaldynamic.com).

Your network in the palm of your hand

Wireless networking using WiFi (802.11b) standards is increasingly common, as are PDAs using Microsoft's Pocket Windows operating system. Toshiba's $950 e740 is the first to combine both in a hand-held squarely aimed at business users.

Toshiba's e740 PDA features built-in WiFi networkingThis sleekly-designed pocket computer offers a crisp colour screen with 64 MB of memory, and is powered by the fastest CPU currently available for hand-helds: Intel's 400 MHz Xscale processor. Dual slots allow expansion using either Secure Digital or Compact Flash cards for memory or other devices. In addition to the standard Pocket Windows software (Pocket Word, Pocket Excel, and the like), Toshiba includes software for connection to business networks and the Internet; the hand-held connects easily using its built-in WiFi wireless adapter. A $150 optional add-on provides VGA output for powering PowerPoint presentations and USB input for connecting a full-sized keyboard.




 



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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan