Alan Zisman (c) 2005 First published in Business
25-31, 2005; issue 835 Gear guide
Time to devote some "me" time to updating your hardware and accessories
Before the holiday gift-giving frenzy begins, you may want start the
season with something nice for yourself. Below are a few examples.
Apple's new mouse: trackball scrolls up, down, left, and right
new mouse ends more than 20 years of devotion to a single mouse
button. (Macs have secretly supported multiple mouse-buttons for years,
but you had to use a PC mouse).
The Apple Mighty Mouse (CDN$65)
looks like a single-button mouse with a nubbin-sized trackball, and
internal sensors know whether you're clicking on the left or right
side. The trackball scrolls up and down, left and right. Clicking the
trackball or a pair of buttons on the side can be set to open the
programs of your choice.
Resistant to change? It can be set up
as a retro single-button mouse. Designed for Mac OS X, the Mighty Mouse
can be used with PCs or older Macs minus the custom features.
The Mighty Mouse may seem new to Mac
owners, but it still dangles a
cord. Logitech's new (CDN$99) MX610 Laser Cordless mouse uses 2.4 GHz
radio to connect to your PC from up to 10 metres away. Unique two-way
signaling indicates when you've got mail or instant messages and powers
the mouse down when its not needed, giving the MX610 an estimated three
months on a set of AA batteries. The scroll wheel tilts for horizontal
scrolling and can be set to magnify the screen.
The MX610 boasts highly precise laser-tracking and speaker volume and
HP's Photosmart R817: a 5.1 megapixel digital camera with a Pentax 5x
HP Photosmart 475 Compact Photo Printer: simple edits can be done right
on the printer
HP's lightweight Photosmart R817
(CDN$450) is a 5.1 megapixel digital
camera with a Pentax 5x optical zoom (most cameras in its class have a
3x zoom). Users can remove red-eye and stitch together panoramas right
in the camera. On-camera Image Advice offers tips to improve your
shots, while color balance, adaptive lighting, and shading correction
features bring out shading and details. Other features include a
stainless steel body, bright two-inch LCD screen, 30 frame-per-second
video with audio recording, rechargeable battery and docking cradle.
toaster-sized HP Photosmart 475 Compact Photo Printer (CDN$350) can be
used with the R817 or other digital cameras for 4 x 6" or 5 x 7" prints
in under a minute costing as little as $0.24 each. It includes four
memory card slots, a direct camera connection, and a 2.5" LCD so images
can be viewed and printed directly, no computer needed; simple edits,
including red-eye removal can be done right on the printer.
Lenovo X41 Thinkpads: ultra portable notebooks with a 12.1" screen and
thumprint reader built-in for biometric security
Many users worried when IBM sold its
personal computer line, including
popular Thinkpad notebooks, to China's Lenovo. While the new models
still sport an IBM logo, Lenovo's Thinkpad X41 (CDN$2,200) and X41
(CDN$2,350) models suggest the fears were groundless.
ultra-portable notebooks with a 12.1" screen and thumbprint reader
built-in for biometric security. After training, a single finger swipe
replaces entering user name and password at login and at secure
Weighing less than four pounds and with an estimated
five-hour battery life, both models are good travellers, featuring the
solid keyboards that have long characterized IBM's Thinkpads. The 1.5
GHz Centrino processor offers reasonable performance and good wireless
connectivity. No CD or DVD drive is included; Lenovo offers a variety
of external USB drives as options.
The X41 Tablet is a notebook
with multiple personalities, combining the features of the standard X41
with a screen that flips over, covering the keyboard and letting the
user enter data with a stylus.
Hitfar: PDA skins for the masses
If you can't quite justify a new
Thinkpad, you can still spruce up your
cell phone, PDA, or MP3 player with a $15 skin from Vancouver's Hitfar
The durable vinyl skins are customized for a
wide range of models in a variety of colourful patterns; for a small
extra charge, you can upload a digital photo and get a personalized