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Weapons for the road warrior: mobile technology that will make business trips easier.

Choosing the right equipment for the road is essential for the mobile business person. It can make the difference between making the sale or losing an account. Listed below are some tools to make it easier to take your work with you when you travel.

Winbox FX

The WinBook FX is an all-purpose multimedia laptop, with all the tools a mobile professional will need. The FX comes equipped with a 133 MHz Pentium processor, 32 megs of RAM, a 2.0 gigabyte hard drive, 6x CD-ROM, an infrared port, a 12.1-inch (diagonal) active-matrix display, a 28.8 data/fax modem and both a touch sensitive glide pad and a pointing stick input device.

The built-in speakers provide great 16-bit sound, and complement the rich colors of the large display that can be used for multimedia presentations. The FX's CD-ROM drive is swappable with a 3.5-inch floppy drive. One of the drawbacks of the unit is its small keyboard. Users with extensive word processing needs will find that their word-per-minute average will diminish slightly until they've gotten the hang of it. The touch-sensitive glide pad allows users to perform all mouse click functions by tapping the pad rather than using the buttons.

Pre-installed software includes Windows 95 and Win Fax. It even includes an imaging application for manipulating scanned images. The FX's overall performance was good. The unit weighs just under 7 lb., and at $3,999 the WinBook FX will make a good companion for even the most demanding road warrior.

Apple PowerBook 1400 series

The PowerBook 1400 series is Apple's answer to its performance-plagued predecessors, the 5300 series. Unlike the 5300, the 1400 series has an optional removable 6X CD-ROM drive, whose slot can also accommodate a floppy drive or an extra battery. The 1400 series model includes the 1400cs and the 1400c (in 117 and 133 MHz configurations). Depending on the particular model, the 1400 series comes equipped with a 11.3-inch dual-scan or activematrix display, two PC card slots (up to 16MB RAM), with a 750MB or 1GB hard drive and a floppy or CD-ROM drive. Prices range from $2,500-$4,000.

The 1400cs (model tested) is powered by a 117MHz 603e processor (133 MHz available in 1400c). Unfortunately, the noticeably larger screen of the 1400cs has an underwhelming dual-scan display (though active matrix models are available). Nearly 6.6 lb., it's manageable but certainly no lightweight.

The 1400 series PowerBook features a contoured design and a flip-up key board that allows easy access for internal upgrades or service. The integrated speakers are somewhat tinny, compared with other notebooks, but an improvement over the 5300 series. Integrated software includes: ClarisWorks, Claris Organizer, Apple Internet Connection Kit, remote access software for connecting to a desktop or LAN and applications for reading and writing PC-formatted disks and files. With all the kinks of the 5300 worked out, Apple has produced a reliable notebook, which you can build on.

Sharp WideNote Notebook Computer

If you're tired of scrolling side to side to see spreadsheets or word processing documents on notebook PCs, the WideNote may be the answer. Available in active-matrix and dual-scan LCD displays, the WideNote uses the same viewing ratio used in movie screens, allowing users to simultaneously view two Web pages. The wide 11.2-inch screen makes it easier to take advantage of the multitasking capabilities of Windows 95 by having two programs simultaneously visible.

Notebook PCs are smaller and lighter than laptops and don't include built-in floppy or CD-ROM drives. At 4.6 lb., both WideNote models (100D and 100T) include a 133MHz Pentium processor, a 1.1 gigabyte hard disk, 16 megs of RAM, 16 bit sound card, track pad cursor pointing device, a lithium-ion battery, two Type II or one Type III PC card slots and an external floppy drive.

Communications capabilities include an integrated 28.8 voice/data/fax modem, Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer Web browsers, and America Online, CompuServe access software. Voicemail and fax/data transmission management software is also included. A four megabyte infrared port allows users to wirelessly exchange data with LANs, PDAs, printers, PCs and digital cameras. The WideNote 100D, with a dual-scan display, and the 100T with an active-matrix display, retails for $2,999 and $3,499, respectively.

Citizen PN 50, Black-and-White Portable Printer

Weighing in at 1 lb., it's the lightest portable printer on the market today. About the size and shape of a collapsible 10-inch umbrella, the PN 50 is easy to carry along with your laptop and other accessories. Although tiny--only 10 inches long--it offers some grown up functionality: 360 X 360 DPI laser-quality black and white output prints on plain paper, laser paper, letterhead, envelopes and transparencies.

The unit has an automatic feed feature that pulls each sheet in individually for an average print speed of two pages per minute. The feed mechanism is a bit delicate; for optimal results, the printer should be steady and level. Printing during a bumpy airplane ride could jeopardize the quality of dataintense documents like spreadsheets or contracts; and you don't want to waste your ribbon because the cartridge is not intended for heavy use. According to Citizen, each ribbon cartridge will print up to 30 text pages, depending on the density of the text.

Setup is easy. The unit comes with a black ink cartridge, Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 drivers, a print cable, AC adapter and rechargeable battery. Load your drivers, plug in your cables and you're ready to print. The list price is $199.

Citizen also offers a printer for color and wireless printing: the PN60i, which is the same size and weight as the PN50 and retails for about $499.

Apple Newton MessagePad 2000

Billed as a complete mobile computer for the business professional, the MessagePad 2000, which is both Internet and office-ready, may well live up to that claim. It comes with a browser and e-mail software for Internet and intranet communications capabilities (modem and internet access not included, of course). Its gray-scale screen can display a fullpage fax (which it can send and receive) and text and GIF-formatted graphics files from HTML-coded Web pages.

Business productivity applications include a word processor, spreadsheet and a personal information manager, including a calendar, phone list and reminders. Any PDA that's worth its weight--in this ease, 1.4 lb.--will include connection software for linking to desktop PCs. The MessagePad includes software and hardware for linking to both PC Windows and Mac desktop machines. It can exchange data with Windows and Macintosh personal information management applications, including Microsoft Schedule+ and Lotus and Claris Organizer products.

The MessagePad's multitasking functions allow users to transfer the contents of a Web page into the word processor and then e-mail the document directly to a colleague. This pen-based machine also recognizes handwriting and has an optional full-size keyboard for users who can't bear to use the point-and-peck method of entering data.

The price, estimated at under $1,000, has not been determined at press time.

Sharp Zaurus ZR-5800FX

Unlike its Apple counterpart, the Zaurus ZR-5800FX doesn't do handwriting recognition, but it does other things--and does them well. For starters, the Zaurus incoporates both pen and keyboard input devices. It includes spreadsheet and word processing features chat are compatible widh Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word. Communications hardware and software include a built-in fax modem (this model only), CompuServe Companion for Zaurus, AT&T Easy Link and Pager Access software.

The pager access software lets users turn their Zaurus into a pager that can send and receive text and numeric messages. Unfortunately, the unit can only send faxes, not receive them. It can also send and receive e-mail and attached documents through either CompuServe or AT&T mail. A built-in infrared port allows wireless transmission of data to the PC. One of the strong points of the Zaurus is its ability to link files within the unit.

For example, a business contact can be linked to a pertinent spreadsheet, outline, document and/or handwritten note with a touch of the pen. The information can then be placed in a folder within the filer function to be retrieved with ease. Optional PC software--Zaurus Applications Partner and IntelliSync--enable the Zaurus to share and synchronize information with desktop PCs. The ZR-5800FX retails for $599. The lower-priced models, the ZR-5700 and ZR-5800, are available for $349 and $499, respectively.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:laptop computers and others
Author:Tariq, Muhammad K.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Evaluation
Date:Feb 1, 1997
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