More options for people who take their business wherever they go

Wireless laptops, hands free phones, portable projector

by Alan Zisman (c) 2002 First published in Business in Vancouver ,  Issue #657  May 28- June 3, 2002 GearGuide column

The wireless revolution has been slow to deliver, but it is nevertheless getting easier to stay connected. And for those roadshow presentations, you no longer need to dim the lights and squint. Here are some options for people who spend more time on the road than in the office.

Staying connected

The wireless lifestyle has been more discussed than put into practice, but Microcell is helping bring it one step closer to reality. Its Fido service now provides 56 kbps data service using a Novatel Wireless Merlin G100 wireless PC Card modem, for notebooks running Windows 98 or above, and for Windows CE and Pocket PC 2002 personal digital assistants.

Using GSM and GPRS wireless communication standards, Fido promises North America-wide access, through Fido's U.S. roaming partner VoiceStream Wireless. Wireless access promises easy access to e-mail and the Web from airports, hotels or offices in most major cities. The 56 kbps speed, similar to a land-line dial-up modem, is faster than previous generations of data transmission. If GPRS isn't available, the modem automatically falls back to the slower (14.4 kbps) but more widely available GSM standard. Moreover, like wired cable or ADSL broadband connections, GPRS is "always on." Users can access e-mail or the Web as desired, without having to wait to make a dial-up connection.

The PC Card costs $525. Customers who sign-on with Fido until June 30 are offered one year of unlimited data transmission (including U.S. roaming) for $50 a month. Other plans, including bundles of data and voice service are available. Because GPRS is always on, billing is based on volume of data transmitted rather than time connected.

Mobile office Hands Free for bike and car

Langley-based Hands-free ( distributes a series of car mounting-systems for notebooks, PDAs, and cell phones, aimed at making it easier to take your business on the road, without having to drill holes in your car There are a variety of styles for different model cars and technology gadgets made by the Swedish Brodit AB. The model for my Handspring Visor installed easily in a variety of locations in my Ford Escort. Prices start at $35. The company warns customers not to use their notebooks, PDAs, or other digital companions when driving.


Taking the show on the road

Epson PowerLite 51cUp until now, digital projector sales have mostly been limited to large corporations. Epson, better-known for its printers, is offering one of the first digital projectors to move out of corporate boardrooms onto the shelves of mass market electronics retailers. Their PowerLite 51c (about $3,000) is compatible with PCs and Macs. Its ample resolution makes it possible to project even in a lit room, and it comes in a portable, 3 kg package.

Other recent offerings from Epson include its award-winning Stylus C80 inkjet printer (about $250), which offers excellent print quality, fast speeds, and Mac and PC compatibility. The company's DuraBrite ink is fade and water-resistant, making it a good choice when printing text and images that you need to keep. Because it doesn't bleed through paper, it's usable for double-sided printing. The base model has spun off two higher-priced siblings with special capabilities for small office networks: the Stylus C80N (about $450) includes a built-in 10/100 Mbps Ethernet print server for wired networking connections, while the Stylus C80WN (about $675) is compatible with the increasingly popular 802.11b wireless networking standard.

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