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    Of timely backups, digital projections and the latest text messaging options

    by  Alan Zisman (c) 2009 First published in Business in Vancouver May 19-25, 2009; issue 1021

    High Tech Office column

    Time to clean off the stuff- for-review shelf. Getting to play with tech gadgets is one of the perks of this column. Too bad I have to give ’em back.

    Last fall, I mentioned the Clickfree line of backup products. Its first generation included several portable external hard drives and blank DVD discs, all with easy-to-use backup software built-in. Plug one in and the software would pop up, letting you back up documents and more. Anything that makes backup easier is good.

    Storage Appliance Corp. hasn’t stopped, however, and has been busy churning out new and improved variations on the Clickfree lineup.

    New: Mac support along with the previous Windows backups. Larger capacity portable external drives – now up to 500 gigabytes (US$220) and larger-sized AC-powered drives up to one TB (1,000 gigabytes – US$250). Already have a drive you’d rather use for backup? The $59 Clickfree HD Transformer plugs into the drive’s USB cable and adds the same instant backup capabilities. The DVD Transformer looks like a USB flash drive, but converts any blank DVD disc into a Clickfree-style backup medium.

    If you don’t have an IT department to do your backups for you, the Clickfree stuff is worth checking out.

    Digital projectors have become commonplace and are must-haves for anyone doing a PowerPoint-style presentation. In fact, many people have taken to referring to them as PowerPoint projectors. Epson’s PowerLite models are ultra-light. They’re aimed at people who want to pack a projector along with their laptop or move from room to room, but don’t want the compromised image quality or brightness that often mark portable projectors.
    Its 1735W model offers 3,000 lumens of brightness in a 4 lb. package with high-resolution widescreen (1280 x 800) support and the ability to connect to standard computer video and USB outputs, HDTV and even connect wirelessly or be used computer-free by plugging in a PowerPoint presentation on a USB flash drive.

    An included Quick Wireless Connection USB dongle simplifies WiFi setup on Windows systems. Also nice: it throws a large image size even when quite close to the screen or wall.
    Its capabilities don’t come cheap, though: $1,649.

    Mobile phones haven’t been used just for talking for a long while now. Rogers, for instance, says its customers sent more than 1.2 billion text messages in January 2009. The company is offering texters several Quick Messaging (or Quick MSG’N) phones. I looked at a pair of Samsung models: the Propel ($49 with plan) and the Gravity ($29 with plan). Rogers also offers the LG Neon ($29).

    Both Samsung models come with slide-out QWERTY keyboards. The Propel’s slides down, the Gravity’s slides out. Both have 1.3 megapixel cameras and built-in e-mail and instant messaging applications. The Propel offers higher data transfer rates and more (optional) storage capabilities; the Gravity builds in more multimedia features.

    Messaging bundle plans, available with any of the three Quick Messaging models, start at $10 per month. For customers frustrated typing onto standard mobile phone keypads but not needing the power (or expense) of full-keyboard smartphones, Motorola’s in the messaging game, too. Also featuring a pull-out QWERTY keyboard, the Motorola Hint QA30 ($80 from Bell Mobility with plan) makes texting, e-mail and web browsing easier.

    Unemployed or a single parent? Microsoft-certified Rapid ComputerTraining ( downtown is offering one-day courses on Saturdays aimed at upgrading computer skills for $100 each – half the regular price – from May through August. Courses focus on Windows XP or Vista, and either the 2003 or 2007 versions of Word, Excel or PowerPoint. •

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