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Tech hits for the home office.

Anyone who currently operates a home-based business, or is considering starting one, will relish the fact that the electronics industry is serving up a savory batch of products. According to Working From Home by Paul & Sarah Edwards (Jeremy P. Tucker Inc., Los Angeles), 600,000 new full-time home businesses were established and 1990-1991 witnessed a 12% increase in the number of homeworkers. Subsequently, in 1991, home-based equipment represented around one-fourth of all electronics sales, according to the Electronics Industry Association, Washington, D.C.

The most essential items sought by home-business owner--after their PCs--are a fax machine, desktop copier, answering machine and cordless telephone. While many products are standard, marketers are constantly coming up with innovative features to attract new business. Here's a glimpse of what's hot in home-office equipment.

* Fax Machines--About 5% of all retail fax sales are made to home-business owners, according to BIS Strategic Decisions, Norwell, Mass. The biggest improvements have been made in paper handling and plain-paper use. Document feeders and automatic paper cutters may seem like extras, but are actually indispensible time savers. These features prevent standing over a fax machine and feeding paper in page by page, or cutting a 20-page document using scissors.

Another key feature is a fax/tel switch, which allows the telephone and fax machine to work from the same phone line and distinguishes between incoming phone and fax calls. First-time fax buyers should consider future faxing needs in order to purchase a machine that will serve them well as their business grows.

The Faxphone 50 from Canon U.S.A. Inc., Lake Success, N.Y., has speed dialing and allows you to hook up an answering machine. The $895 machine also employs paper decurling. Light users will benefit from the low price and features of Plano, Texas-based Murata Business Systems' M700 and M750 fax machines--no larger than an 8 1/1-x-11 piece of paper, 5 1/2 lbs in weight and $599 in price.

Among the more fully featured, "step-up" fax machines with a built-in answering machine, is Secaucus, N.J.,-based Panasonic Co.'s KX-F60. The unit uses a patented auto-logic answering system, enabling users to rewind, play, pause and save incoming messages. A superfine mode lets users reproduce finely printed documents (i.e., newpapers) or photographs at a high resolution.

Industry leader in facsimile, Sharp Electronics Corp. in Mahwah, N.J. offers the UX-195 with 512 K of memory, allowing up to 26 pages of text to be scanned and stored for later printout. The $1,499 fax machine has an error-correction mode, which automatically searches and corrects transmission errors before printing out.

* Copiers--Compact, cosmetically appealing and light-weight are key features of copiers today, as well as enhanced capabilities in enlargement and continuous copying. Sharp's Z-76 and Z-77 desktop copiers, which sells for around $1,299, can run up to 50 continuous copies. Canon's PC-11, which sells for about $1,795, has advanced features in reducing and enlarging copies in specific percentages. It also copies onto transparency sheets, as well as labels or business cards. For $90-$100, color-ink cartridges are available for the Sharp and Canon models.

* Cordless telephones--If you're interested in a cordless telephone-answering device (TAD), Panasonic's KX-T4300 has a built-in auto-logic (four functions in one button) answering machine. The unit sells for around $189. Homeowners who want to separate personal and business lines, can check out the KX-T3880--one of a few cordless, two-line telephone answering machines. The $200 unit has a hands-fee speakerphone and automatic intercom.

* Home-office helpmates--Ironically, owners of one-or-two-person home businesses often need to spend time in the field meeting potential clients. To help you take care of business while you travel, IBM Corp. in Armonk, N.Y., offers the PS/2 L40 SX. This laptop PC sells for $3,995 and has a 60 MB hard drive and 2 MB of memory.

To give your files and client presentations a more professional look, consider the P-Touch III labeling system from Brothr International Corp., located in Somerset, N.J. The $150 unit resembles a tiny typewriter and prints out adhesive-backed labels in any of four type styles or five type sizes, as well as a variety of colors. It also prints in Spanish.

Rolodex Corp., Secaucus, N.J., offers the Electrodex Plus, an electronic desktop card file with 64 K of memory--capable of storing the equivalent of 1,000 business cards names and addresses. There's a pocket-size version of the Electrodex for use when traveling, enabling new data to be transferred to the desktop unit via infrared beam. An IBM PC link allows for uploading and downloading information. The units cost $199 and $176, respectively.

As the home office continues to be one of the faster-growing business industries, vendors are sure to flood the market with products that provide ease-of-use, affordability and technical support.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:includes related article on Microsoft Corp.'s 'Solution Series' collection of software for small business and home-office users
Author:Toussaint, Pamela
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Jan 1, 1992
Previous Article:Successful investing.
Next Article:The widening fiscal gap.

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