business technology packs big-office features
by Alan Zisman (c) 2004 First
published in Business
#787 November 23-29 2004, GearGuide Column
Technology manufacturers are increasingly looking toward the small
business market, offering products that are more durable and
full-featured than those aimed at home office users, but that don't
require the support of a corporate-sized IT department.
All-in-one units combining printer, scanner, copier and fax functions
have become common in many home offices. Models are now available for
small and mid-sized businesses at a variety of prices.
($350) adds document management to the typical all-in-one mix. For
example, users can combine multiple scanned pages into a single,
multi-page PDF file for storage and distribution or use included
optical character recognition software to turn scanned pages into
editable digital text. Thumbnail images of documents can be easily
printed, faxed, emailed, or converted to another format. The built-in
LCD screen makes it possible to perform many jobs right at the unit,
bypassing the computer.
The automatic document feeder and 150-page input tray help zip through
large production jobs. Ethernet and wireless network adapters are
Claiming typical companies spend between one and three per cent of
revenue on printed output, HP
says its new Laserjet 4345mfp ($3,200) will help businesses reduce
these costs by up to 30 per cent while improving employee productivity.
The 4345mfp combines colour laser printing, scan, fax, digital sending
and finishing capabilities with up to 45 pages per minute copying, all
in a desktop-sized unit.
For some time now, users have seen an expanding range of roomy and
affordable storage devices. A case in point is hard-drive maker
Seagate. The company's new Pocket Hard Drives are the size and shape of
a yo-yo, and come complete with retractable USB cable that winds up
around the unit's body and flashing ice-blue lights. These offer far
more storage than popular flash-memory drives. Portable and durable,
they come in two sizes: 2.5 GB ($180) and 5 GB ($245).
If that's not enough capacity, Seagate also offers 40 GB ($205) and 100
GB ($340) Portable External Drives. With a more conventional look,
they're about the size and shape of a small paperback book (though also
featuring the ice-blue lights).
Both series of drives use USB 2.0 connections, combining speedy
performance on newer PCs and Macs with backwards compatibility (though
slower bandwidth) on systems with the more common older USB 1.1 ports.
All models draw power through the USB connection; no bulky power bricks
Tungsten T5 PDA ($600) offers a bright 320 x 480 pixel full colour
screen that can be viewed in either landscape or portrait mode. Along
with built-in Bluetooth connectivity and a thin, sleek design, its use
of flash memory means user data is protected, even when the battery
runs out. As well, it can double as a 160 MB portable flash drive, so
it can be used to store and transport files between computers even if
the Palm's software can't read them. But with the included copy of Dataviz
Go software, T5
owners can read and edit Microsoft
Word and Excel files and view PowerPoint files. Missing in this model:
the innovative collapsible design used in earlier Tungsten models. But
you can use it to play MP3 music files in the background while you work.