GPSOLO December 2010
2010 Techno-Gift Guide
By Jeffrey Allen
The wonders of modern technology continue to impress most of us on a daily basis. We have come to accept technology as a significant part of our daily lives. We get up in the morning and watch the news on (probably large-screen) televisions or check it out on the Internet over morning coffee. We drive an assortment of vehicles ranging from highly green, electronic transportation to gas-powered machines that keep the oil companies rich. We walk, ride, and fly (and sometimes, just sit quietly) listening to music on our digital music players or reading our digital books on electronic readers. Of course, let’s not forget the fact that most of us have had cellular telephones permanently connected to some portion of our anatomy for years. The list goes on, and on, and on. . . . It runs the gamut from transportation to recreation to health care to communication. We use technology regularly and intensely in almost every portion of our personal and our business lives.
Given the impact of technology on our lives and the scope of its influence, more and more people think in terms of technology when it comes time to buy birthday presents, holiday gifts, and gifts for many other occasions. With that in mind, as we enter the 2010 holiday season, this guide may give you some ideas about technology gifts to get for friends, family, partners, employees, and, perhaps, a few special clients. Nothing precludes you from getting some of the technology discussed in this guide for yourself, as many of the items will prove helpful, if not invaluable, in your practice and/or enjoyable, if not desirable, in your personal life.
Before getting into the good stuff, a few required warnings:
- Nothing said in this article constitutes tax advice. Consult your tax preparer about questions of deductibility and depreciation or any other tax-related matters.
- You should not construe anything said in this article as an endorsement or recommendation of a particular product by the American Bar Association or its General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division. The opinions expressed in this article represent my opinions and observations. Please do not give anyone else credit for them.
- My opinions and observations do not replace the manufacturers’ warranties, instructions, or specifications.
- Price references in this article reflect manufacturers’ list prices, unless otherwise stated. Generally, you can find most products online at lower prices than in bricks-and-mortar shops. If you choose to shop online, be wary of whom you deal with and take steps to ensure that you get what you wanted.
Apple’s iPad, the Number 1 Recommendation
Apple’s iPad ( www.apple.com) heads this year’s list of recommendations. I made that choice for a number of reasons: its versatility, its flexibility, the quality of its performance, the quality of its manufacture, the reasonableness of its pricing, and the variety of its pricing—making it available to people looking for gifts costing from $499 to $829. Last, but certainly not least, in building the iPad, Apple created one of the slickest pieces of technology on the market. I know a lot of people who have iPads already and none of them has expressed any remorse about buying one. They all seem to love their iPads. I know a lot of people who do not have iPads (at least not yet), and a substantial number of them have expressed an interest in getting one. My iPad still attracts attention almost everywhere, and I rarely take it out without someone asking to see it or staring at it enviously while I use it. It did not surprise me to learn that the iPad broke the iPhone’s record for sales during the first 60 days following product release.
The iPad has attracted interest from people of all ages, all genders, and all levels of education. In fact, it has attracted the interest of educators, and several schools currently have experiments in process using the iPad and electronic books in lieu of printed textbooks and workbooks.
The iPad gives you an excellent media player (audio as well as visual). While the audio does not significantly improve on the iPhone/iPod, the visual does. The larger screen and its very high resolution give you a much better experience than the smaller screens, even with the upgrade in resolution in the new iPod touch and the iPhone 4. The iPad also gives you an e-book reader and not only access to the collection of materials available through the iTunes store using Apple’s own iBook app, but also the ability to access, acquire, and read materials from Barnes & Noble through the Barnes & Noble app as well as books from Amazon using Amazon’s Kindle app. So, in effect, you get the functional equivalent of a Kindle, a Nook, and an Apple eReader rolled into one. The iPad displays your photographic and video media clearly and crisply as well.
The collection of applications for the iPad runs the gamut from business, to health, to recreation, to travel. You can get educational apps, HD games, productivity apps, and even Apple’s iWork programs for the iPad (note that the iPad version of iWork does not have all the features or functionality of the iWork programs for the computer; for a more detailed consideration of the iWork apps, see the review in my Technolawyer blog, http://blog.technolawyer.com/2010/08/iwork-review-pages-numbers-and-keynote-for-ipad.html).
Apple makes the iPad in two versions, a WiFi-only version and a WiFi + 3G version. The former does not give you the ability to access the Internet, e-mail, etc., without a WiFi connection. The latter gives you the ability to get that access anywhere you can find an available data signal.
Each of the versions comes with your choice of 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB of memory. Because you cannot add to the memory of the iPad after you purchase it, I recommend you opt for the largest memory you can justify. Other than a minor size and weight differential owing to the cellular antennae and radio, the specifications of both the WiFi and the 3G versions are the same. All units run on a custom-designed 1 GHz Apple A4 processer and have a 9.7” LED-backlit, glossy, high-resolution (1024 x 768 pixels at 132 pixels per inch) display. Apple claims up to ten hours of web surfing on WiFi and up to nine hours of web surfing on 3G. The price range runs from $499 for the 16 GB WiFi version of the iPad to $829 for the 64 GB WiFi + 3G version. You can find full pricing details and more information about specs on the Apple website.
Although the iPad comes unlocked, only AT&T initially offered programs and hardware (it requires a special SIM card) to run the iPad. As this article went to press, Verizon announced it would start selling the iPad in Verizon stores and offer a 3G connection through its MiFi hotspot device with a special plan for the iPad. The ability to use the iPad with a MiFi is not news; we have known about that for some time. The special data plan and the ability to get the iPad in the Verizon stores are new and news.
If you listen to Apple, or at least to Steve Jobs, the iPad represents a new technological niche. Others say it simply reformulates the tablet PC and, therefore, represents a revitalization of an existing technology and not a new niche. I have no intention of getting into that debate, as I don’t think it makes any difference whether you see it as new or rehashed technology; it represents a marvelously versatile piece of technology that most people will find a delightful and useful acquisition.
If you have an iPod touch or an iPhone, you have some idea about the basic technology of the iPad and how it works. Yet the iPad, while not doing everything the iPhone does, does some things that neither the iPod touch nor the iPhone can do and does other things better. I do not suggest that you trade your iPhone or even your iPod touch in for an iPad; the iPhone gives you cellular telephony, and both the iPod touch and the iPhone give you greater portability and some camera features that the iPad does not. Each of the three has its place.
Apple’s iPhone 4 and Other Smart Phones
Most of us use smart phones. Not only that, but many if not most of us have partners, employees, and family members who do or should use smart phones. Although I am not a big fan of the AT&T network, my two favorite smart phones only work on the AT&T network. They are so good that I use them despite the AT&T network. My first recommendation for a smart phone on the AT&T network, Apple’s iPhone, has set all kinds of sales records for smart phones. The newest iteration, the iPhone 4, represents a significant upgrade over prior models. The best improvements relate to the quality of the screen, the speed and efficiency of the processor, the battery life per charge, the upgrade of the camera, and the introduction of a second camera to facilitate the FaceTime app, which allows you to have video calls with other iPhone 4 users (note, however, that it only works on WiFi).
The collection of applications for the iPhone continues to grow and remains far more vast and varied than those available in the Android App Market or the BlackBerry App Store, making the iPhone far and away the most useful multifunctional smart phone device on the market. In addition to the very decent telephony features and speaker-phone, it gives you the media (audio and visual), calendar, and contacts features that we all expect in smart phones—and it has the best display I have seen on any smart phone yet. It also has the same touch screen features that you find in the iPad and the iPod touch.
The iPhone 4 has a substantially upgraded display (Apple calls it the “Retina” display, as it displays higher detail than the eye can discern), which improves the video experience, the Internet experience, the quality of image display, and the readability of text when the device is used as an e-reader.
Apple released the iPhone 4 with its new iOS 4 operating system. The iOS 4 system substantially enhances the user experience, making it smoother, faster, and generally better. Although iOS 4 does work on 3 series iPhones, it does not perform as well there as on the iPhone 4, in part because some iOS 4 features require iOS hardware. My three favorite new features of the iOS 4: (1) the introduction of folders to help you sort and access your apps; (2) multitasking to let you flick from one app to another without losing your place; and (3) FaceTime, which gives you the ability to do video chats with other iPhone 4 users.
The iPhone 4 comes in a 16 GB and a 32 GB version. With a two-year plan from AT&T, you can get the iPhone 4 for $199 or $299, respectively. The iPhone 4 measures 4.5” x 2.31” x .37” and weighs in at 4.8 ounces. It has a 3.5” Multi-Touch display with a resolution of 960 x 640 pixels at 326 pixels per inch.
What If I Want to Get a BlackBerry?
BlackBerry (produced by Research In Motion, or RIM; http://na.blackberry.com) had a long time at the top of the mountain. I do not consider it the leader any longer. The reality is that the iOS 4 and Android 2.2 operating systems both surpass the new 6 OS recently released by RIM on its Torch 9800. Although the 6 OS shows significant improvement over its predecessors, it does not fully close the gap and catch up to the Android system or the Apple iOS 4. Nevertheless, some parts of the world locked in on the BlackBerry a number of years ago and have never let go. If you live in that environment or simply like the BlackBerry and want to have one, for my money RIM has never built a device as nifty as the Torch 9800. The Torch 9800 has a virtual keyboard as well as the traditional BlackBerry-style physical keyboard presented in a new way: It slides out, allowing you to still have a display equal to the face of the device (3.18” diagonal) and not just its top half, as most BlackBerry devices have. The Torch also has the best and sharpest display I have seen on a BlackBerry and ups the ante on the camera to 5 megapixels. For a more detailed analysis of the Torch 9800, see my review in the September issue of the Technology eReport ( www.abanet.org/genpractice/ereport/2010/vol9/num3/index.html). If you do not want to deal with AT&T or pay the price for an unlocked Torch 9800, take a look at the Bold 2 (BlackBerry 9650 at Verizon). If you want or are willing to deal with AT&T, want a BlackBerry, but for some inexplicable reason do not like the Torch 9800, you can get the AT&T version of the Bold 2 (BlackBerry 9700). (You can find out more information about the 9700 in my review for the eReport cited above.)
Apple refreshed its iPod line in early September. The two models I like best are the iPod touch and the new iPod nano.
The new iPod touch is slimmer and sleeker than its predecessors, and it has the memory options of 8 GB ($229), 32 GB ($299), and 64 GB ($399). The newest version adds a camera allowing you to take HD video and also allows you to use FaceTime if you have a WiFi connection. The new iPod touch has Apple’s new Retina display (960 x 640 pixels at 326 pixels per inch). Apple claims that a fully charged battery will last up to 40 hours playing music and up to seven hours playing video, certainly enough for most uses.
The ever-evolving iPod nano has a square shape and comes in an 8 GB ($149) and a 16 GB ($179) version. It has a Multi-Touch display, built-in FM radio, and a built-in carrying clip to facilitate its functioning as a pedometer.
The refreshed iPod line also includes an updated 2 GB shuffle, which sells for only $49. The line also retains the iPod classic in a 160 GB version selling for $249. Although the iPod classic lacks many of the slick features of the newer models, it has the virtue of immense capacity. If you want to set up a very large music library on an iPod docked into a speaker system, the classic gives you the ability to do that.
If you shop in the online Apple store, you can order the iPod with the name of your recipient (or your own name) engraved on the back. Apple does not charge extra for the engraving, but it will delay shipment by a couple of days, so take that into consideration if you choose to avail yourself of the opportunity. I always considered engraving to be a nice touch and have taken advantage of that option on several occasions.
Accessorize! Accessorize! Accessorize!
If your intended recipients already have iPads, iPods, or iPhones (or, for that matter, other smart phones), this fact opens up for you the world of accessories as gifts. In addition to the basic accessories Apple offers for its devices, third-party manufacturers have developed accessories for Apple devices and other smart phones as a major industry.
Display protection and cases. The Zagg invisibleSHIELD ( www.zagg.com) provides the best protection I have found for smart phone and iPad displays. I have used the invisibleSHIELD for over a year. Once you get the shield on, it pretty much lasts for the life of the device (if it fails, they replace it). You can find the invisibleSHIELD for most smart phones, the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and various other devices online directly from Zagg or at retail locations such as Best Buy. Zagg makes kits that protect only the screen or (at a higher price) kits that cover the entire device (back, sides, and display). The material Zagg uses for its invisibleSHIELD is a clear plastic that Zagg guarantees against scratches for the life of your device. The material also provides some texture, making it less likely you will drop the device while using it. A word of warning: When you install the invisibleSHIELD, you need to carefully and diligently follow the directions, especially the part about washing your hands and wetting the fingers so that you do not stick to the plastic. Once you get it on, it will need about 24 hours to cure (you should leave your device off for that time period). You will see many small air bubbles disappear during the curing period. Because the full-coverage kits make it difficult for devices to fit into tight-fitting cases, I have generally opted for the display protection only, leaving the protection of the remainder of the device to more decorative cases (usually leather, as a function of my personal preferences). The face kit for an iPhone 4 costs $14.99, while the full-coverage kit costs $24.99. The face kit for an iPad costs $29.99, and the full-body-coverage kit costs $39.99. Other devices have similar price structures.
When it comes to fitted protective cases for the iPhone, those made by OtterBox, Sena, and Griffin top my list.
OtterBox ( www.otterbox.com) makes two series of cases for the smart phones and iPad: the Defender and the Commuter series. The Commuter series provides very good protection for most devices from common risks of damage. The Defender series provides significantly greater protection, but the trade-off is greater weight, larger size, and higher cost. I like the look of the Commuter series better, but if I wanted to protect a device in the possession of a police officer, a construction worker, someone in the armed forces on active duty, or a serious adventurer, I would opt for the Defender series cases. The iPhone 4 Defender series case costs $49.95, while the Commuter series case costs $34.95. The iPad Defender series case costs $89.95, while the Commuter series case costs $64.95. OtterBox makes cases for most of the popular smart phones as well as many other devices.
Sena Cases ( www.senacases.com) makes my choice for a smart, professional-looking, well-constructed line of leather cases for most of the popular smart phones, the iPad, and some other devices. My favorite of the iPhone 4 cases, the Walletbook, holds an iPhone, business cards, and a few other card-sized items, comes in many color and texture options, and costs $52. I have not used the pockets for credit cards as a result of my concern that the magnetic field generated by the phone will affect the readability of the card’s magnetic strip. As a result, I use the slots for business cards instead of credit cards.
Sena makes iPad cases in a variety of styles. My favorite of the group, the Collega, costs $150, holds the iPad and some other miscellaneous items or accessories, and either functions as a stand-alone case or provides protection when used in connection with a larger case. It works very well when traveling or when I just want to carry a small and lightweight case. (I admit that I have a problem in that I always pack to fill available space, and that means that if I use a larger case, I will pack more things, which, of course, means schlepping more weight around than I need.)
The accessories by Griffin Technology ( www.griffintechnology.com) for iPhones, iPads, iPods, and other electronic devices generally have a more casual appearance than those from Sena, but not so casual as the OtterBox line. Griffin’s cases and sleeves come in a variety of styles, materials, and colors. I like to use Griffin’s $34.95 FlexGrip silicone iPad case inside of a Collega or similar carrying case. The silicone case protects the back and sides of the iPad and makes the iPad more gripable and less likely to slip out of my hands when I use it—and it allows access to all the connection ports. You can get it in black, blue, purple, or white. Griffin also makes a wallet-style iPhone case that I like very much: the Elan Passport Wallet, which lists for $39.99. The case is leather, with chrome accents at the corners, and provides full protection for the iPhone 4. It has two business card pockets and a cash pocket on the left side of the wallet. See my comments above respecting the use of the card pockets for credit cards. The Elan Passport case comes only in black. If you decide to get one for yourself, note that I have discovered that, when you use the phone (other than as a hands-free telephone), it works best if you fold the wallet back—it’s easier to hold. Additionally, the snap will work to hold the case in that position for you. When you go to the Griffin website, you might also want to check out some of the other iPhone/iPad/iPod accessories, particularly the power supplies.
Levenger ( www.levenger.com) also makes cases worth investigating. If you want extra protection for your iPad, check out the 10” Flak Jacket ($30), which also works for most netbooks. Levenger also offers a 13” ($40) and a 15” Flak Jacket ($40), which work very nicely to protect a laptop during travel. While you are at the Levenger site, you might also want to check out the messenger bags (the $199 Bomber Jacket Messenger is my personal favorite). They offer a professional-appearing shoulder bag that will easily hold your iPad in a protective case, your cell phone, and several other items.
Waterfield Designs ( http://sfbags.com) also makes an excellent line of carrying cases for the iPad. I have enjoyed their bags for several years and have recommended them to you in the past. Waterfield Designs cases are well made, protective, reasonably priced, and generally casual in appearance. The bags come with an adequate amount of padding to provide protection to your iPad. My two favorites are the Exo SleeveCase ($49–$54) and the Ultimate SleeveCase ($55–$60). These are basically the same cases in slightly different sizes. The Ultimate SleeveCase works with an otherwise unprotected iPad, and the Exo SleeveCase accommodates an iPad in some protective cases, such as the Apple iPad case. You can get either case with a vertical or horizontal orientation and with or without the optional strap (an additional $9 to $19 depending on your choice of strap and including “D” ring attachments).
Skooba Design ( www.skoobadesign.com) also offers a nicely made, reasonably priced, casual messenger-style shoulder case for the iPad or a netbook with up to a 10” screen. The bag lists for $49.95 and comes in your choice of black on black, blue on black, or brick on black. It will easily hold your iPad or netbook, charging blocks, earphones or headphones, and a few other accessories. The bag is very lightweight and just the thing for a trip to your local Starbucks on a Sunday morning. Skooba does a nice job with its bag line. The bags have a fairly casual appearance but are well made and will carry a lot. If you tend to over-pack your bags and they feel heavy and uncomfortable on your shoulder, you might also want to take a look at the Skooba Superbungee Bag Strap. It gives you some relief from the soreness that carrying a heavy bag can create by spreading the weight of the bag across your shoulder more evenly and by adding some elasticity to the strap. It sells for $25.95.
STM (Standard Technical Merchandise; www.stmbags.com) also makes a small, casual iPad case that they call the jacket. The jacket iPad will hold your iPad and a few extra things (such as a charger). It sells for $24.95. STM’s jacket iPad holds considerably less than the Skooba or Levenger messengers bags—an advantage if you want to travel light, but a disadvantage if you need to carry more.
STM also makes the iPad org board, which sells for $24.95. The iPad org board provides some protection to your iPad (primarily against scratches, as it has little padding), but it does hold a charger and some other items (an iPhone, earphones, and maybe a pen) to keep them all together for you. It would be an ideal organizer to put into a Skooba Messenger bag.
If you want a premium and professional-looking case, check out the Tumi line ( www.tumi.com). Tumi makes a number of shoulder bags that will function very nicely as iPad bags (some will also work for netbooks). Like Levenger’s Bomber Jacket Messenger, these Tumi bags have no padding, so I strongly recommend that if you use one, you also use a sleeve or some other form of padded cover (for extra protection, use the Flak Jacket) to protect your iPad. Many of the Tumi bags come either in ballistic nylon or leather. The leather bags cost a bit more and look a bit more sophisticated, but the ballistic nylon bags also look quite professional and seem to hold up better (they resist damage very well), so you may prefer them to the leather versions. If you buy the bag at a bricks-and-mortar Tumi store or get it somewhere else and take it to a Tumi store, they will engrave initials on most bags at no charge.
I like Tumi’s Alpha and Alpha Bravo lines of small bags, many of which will hold an iPad, phone, keys, and a few other items. I especially like the Alpha Bravo Beale Mini Messenger bag ($175), which comes in black or avocado ballistic nylon with leather trim. It is one of my favorites and makes a very nice iPad bag. I also like the Alpha Flap Zip Leather Crossbody bag ($295). It has been available in black ballistic nylon as well, but when I checked on the website for a price, I could not find that version of the product listed. It is possible that Tumi has discontinued the nylon version, but you may still find it in a Tumi store. Tumi has a number of other cases you might find appealing in slightly varying size ranges and with both horizontal and vertical configurations. Prices for this size range of Tumi bags run from $75 to $345, depending on the model. Most stores will not discount Tumi bags (there are a few exceptions). Usually, the only way to get a Tumi bag at less than retail price is when Tumi has a sale or discontinues a line.
Stand and deliver. The iPad is a great device, but a bit heavy to hold for long time periods. If you want to enjoy it more, get a stand to use while you watch a movie, read the news, or use a Bluetooth keyboard to take notes. Apple makes a combination keyboard and stand (see page 46) and also sells the stand separately as the Apple iPad Dock ($29). The Apple iPad Dock has the advantage of charging the iPad as well (if you plug it in).
I have found other stands I like better than the iPad Dock, some of which will allow you to plug the iPad into its charger while on the stand. I have seen several stands that I like for various reasons. My favorites include the Twelve South BookArc ($49.99; www.twelvesouth.com), Griffin’s A-Frame ($49.99), and Griffin’s Loop ($29.99). Griffin’s A-Frame is a substantial folding device designed for travel but probably better suited to home or office use owing to its weight. I like the stand a lot and use it often in my office. The Twelve South BookArc provides a single angle of view, allowing you to position the iPad horizontally or vertically. It is light enough to use for travel, but you have better travel options that offer a less bulky package (including the A-Frame). The BookArc works very well as a stand in the office or at home.
For travel, the folks at Twelve South make an outstanding collapsible mobile stand that they call the Compass ($39.99), undoubtedly because it opens much like that old-fashioned drafting tool. The compass folds up into a very small package and opens into a very competent iPad stand. Since I found it, I no longer leave home without it whenever I take my iPad along.
iPad keyboards. Apple offers two keyboards options for the iPad: the Apple iPad Keyboard Dock, which also serves as a stand for your iPad, and the Apple Wireless (Bluetooth) Keyboard. Both work well (and both cost $69). I prefer the Wireless Keyboard and a different stand as it gives me more freedom to position the keyboard and the iPad in a manner I find comfortable. If you want a smaller keyboard, you can get folding keyboards or a reduced-sized keyboard, such as Logitech’s diNovo Mini Bluetooth keyboard ($149.99; www.logitech.com). It comes with its own protective travel case and takes up less space in your bag than the Apple Wireless Keyboard. On the flip side, it has a much smaller keyboard, and people with larger hands may find it difficult to touch-type quickly on it when trying to take notes or working on a document.
Power to the iPhone. Apple has moved its products to sealed cases that do not allow you to replace the battery yourself. This means that you can no longer carry an extra charged battery and substitute it into your iPhone, iPod, iPad, or laptop when the battery runs low. As a part of this conversion, Apple has used larger batteries and lower-power-drawing processors. Nevertheless, it remains a fact that eventually the battery will run out of juice (usually at a most inopportune time). Because you cannot substitute a battery inside of the device, your only option is to use an external source of power. Several companies have jumped into the mix to make power sources that will recharge your iPhone/iPod/iPad battery and/or power your device once the internal battery has run out. The $79.95 mophie juice pack air ( www.mophie.com) not only provides good protection for the iPhone 4, it has a built-in battery that will roughly double the available power for the phone. The $39.95 juice pack reserve, an external battery for the iPhone/iPod, will quick-charge the device to supplement the available power.
Tumi sells my favorite reserve power source/recharger in the dongle category. Tumi’s Mobile Power Pack holds multiple charges for your iPhone (or for many other devices as well), charges quickly, and comes with many connectors and a handsome case. It is a bit over-priced at $135, but it also comes with the Tumi cache. You can get the Mobile Power Pack in red or gunmetal. It will charge any iPhone or iPod with the Apple Dock port. As the Mobile Power Pack’s iPhone dock connector has a short cord, it will work with almost any case. Although the Mobile Power Pack takes up more space than most of the dongle devices, I prefer it to many as a result of its flexibility. Available adapters allow it to charge iPhones, iPods, BlackBerries, and various other smart phones and other devices. Once you buy the Mobile Power Pack, Tumi will give you extra adapters without requiring you to buy them. I have acquired a reasonably good-sized collection of adapters to accommodate my electronics, and I still do not have all the available adapters.
Earphones and headsets. Although the earphones that come with the iPad, the iPhone, and the iPod function competently, they leave considerable room for improvement. The earphones that come with most other telephones and mobile sound devices work no better (and often less well) than those shipped by Apple. I generally do not use the earphones that come with any of my devices; instead, I immediately upgrade to a higher-quality earphone or headset.
A good set of earphones or a headset makes an excellent gift for any iPod, iPhone, or iPad owner as well as for owners of other music and/or video players or smart phones. I have used and enjoyed high-quality in-ear earphones for some time. Although I have several to recommend to you, I have found that after a while the in-ear devices have made my ears sore. As a result, I have started using headphones more and more, even though they have the disadvantage of taking up more space and adding weight to my travel gear. I find that I can wear them longer than earphones without any discomfort or soreness in my inner ear. Although wearing the headset may feel a bit odd at first, it becomes less and less strange after a short period of time. I also have several headsets to recommend to you.
The world of earphones breaks down into two categories: (1) hard-wired and (2) wireless. The hard-wired models have the disadvantage of requiring a physical wire between the device and the earphone/headset. Most of the wireless earphones use Bluetooth technology. The wireless models have the advantage of no physical connection to the device but the disadvantage of draining power from the device to send the Bluetooth signals. Although some of the Bluetooth headsets provide stereo sound, most are single-ear devices that function primarily for the purpose of telephony. Additionally, in my experience, the wireless devices do not deliver sound of the same quality as the wired devices.
Hard-wired sets. In the hard-wired category, I have been partial to Shure earphones for some time. Shure ( www.shure.com) started with outstanding stereo earphones and then added a telephone adapter that introduces the required microphone and allows you to use the earphones for both stereo music and telephony. Shure recently updated its lineup of earphones. The current lineup includes the SE115 ($119.99), SE315 ($199.99), SE425 ($299.99), and SE535 ($499.99). The last three replace last year’s SE310 ($299.96), SE420 ($399.99), and SE530 ($499.99), respectively. I tested last year’s models and found them excellent. I have not yet had the opportunity to work with the new earphones, but when I checked on pricing, I found that Shure still had some of the older models available for sale. You may be able to pick one up at a bargain price. As you move up the line, each provides better sound than the ones beneath it; however, if you just pick one and listen only to it, you will probably find it most satisfactory.
Shure uses a sound-isolation technology to keep out ambient noise and provide you with a pure sound experience. The sound-isolation technology depends on a good seal between the earphone and your ear, so take advantage of the sizing kit to ensure that you get a good fit.
I had the opportunity to try the Shure SRH440 headphones. Although it appears a bit bulky at first appearance, the set folds up to a relatively compact size for travel and proved fairly comfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time. The sound, while quite good, was not as good as the top end of the Shure earphone line, but compared favorably to the lower end of the line. I found the SRH440 available online for between $80 and $100.
Shure’s $49.99 Music Phone Adapter converts any Shure earphones to a stereo mobile phone headset; it makes an excellent gift for someone who already has a set of Shure earphones.
Bowers & Wilkins ( www.bowers-wilkins.com) makes one of my favorite on-ear headsets: the P5 ($299.95), a small, lightweight set that packs into an included padded case and takes up relatively little room in your bag. The headphones feel very light and comfortable on your head and work well for long-term use. The P5 includes a microphone, so that you can use it with your cell phone to handle calls as well as music. The P5 is quite responsive and has a very good sound range. The only weakness I found in the headset was the bass reproduction. While certainly adequate, it was not as deep or strong as I like. Notwithstanding the bass response, I liked the headset quite a bit, especially for travel.
The newest player in my list of earphones and headphones comes from a well- established company, with a Monster for a name. Monster has released a line of earphones and headphones under the name “Beats by Dr. Dre” ( http://beatsbydre.com), and I found it very impressive. The Beats by Dr. Dre Tour in-ear model includes “ControlTalk,” enabling you to control your music and use the Tour for telephony as well. The Tour lists for $189.95. Instead of the very thin and relatively fragile wires regularly used in the construction of most earphones, Monster built the Tour with a cable about the size of a standard shoelace, making it stronger and much less susceptible to damage. The earphones fit comfortably into your ears and provide strong, clear sound. The Tour uses a sound-isolation technology to minimize interference from outside noise.
The Beats by Dr. Dre Solo headphones ($199.95) fit nicely on the ear, proved very responsive, and provide a very solid bass. They are relatively lightweight, although not nearly so light as the Bowers & Wilkins P5. The Solo also uses a much stronger wiring cable than many headsets. They fold up neatly for travel and fit nicely into an included padded soft-shell case.
The Beats by Dr. Dre Studio headphones ($349.95) fit over the ear rather than on it. The larger cups encompassing the ear help create the fullness of the sound and isolate you from background noise. The Studio does, however, include a powered noise-cancellation system that works very well. The Studio headphones proved highly responsive (the most responsive of the headphones I tried) and had an excellent bass response as well as a strong high and midrange response. The Studio headset also folds up and fits into an included hard-shell travel case. The case has a relatively small footprint, but substantial thickness. It also has a carabiner-style clip to allow you to attach it to a handle or strap on your bag, in case you do not have room for it in your bag. The studio comes with two sets of cables, one including the ControlTalk microphone and the other without it, so you can use the first cable with a cell phone for telephony, and with the second cable the Studio works simply as an audio headset. All in all, a great choice for a gift.
Bose ( www.bose.com) built a reputation for high-end engineered sound devices. For a number of years, Bose has also had a line of noise-canceling headsets. Their QuietComfort 3 (QC3; $349.95) and QuietComfort 15 (QC15; $299.95) have been available for a few years. Although not new, they represent solid technology and work very well. The QC15 earpieces fit over the ear. The QC3 has smaller earpieces that sit on the ear but do not engulf it. The QC3 comes with a rechargeable battery that lasts up to 25 hours per charge cycle. The QC15 uses AAA batteries for power and gets about 35 hours per set of batteries. Both headphones provide excellent audio quality. Both come with a protective case. Both substantially reduce outside noise levels, such as airplane noise, although not as well as the sound-isolating earphones.
Bose also offers a very good quality set of acoustic headphones without noise-cancellation technology. The Bose On-Ear headphones list for $179.95. I found them quite satisfactory but would have preferred a bit more depth in bass. They are very lightweight, and I found them very comfortable for use several hours at a time. They come with a semi-hard shell case for protecting the earphones during travel.
Bose recently upgraded its earphone line to include the IE2 ($99.95) and the MIE2 ($129.95). The IE2 is a very good quality in-ear device that does not go as far into the ear canal as the earphones using sound-isolation technology. They are less likely to irritate the ear but do not provide the same purity as the sound-isolation technology. They have an odd-looking extension that fits into the bowl of the ear to help provide stability and prevent the earphone from falling out. Fit is important to make that feature work well. The IE2 gives you very good quality sound and represents a nice upgrade from the earphones included with most music players (including the Apple products). The MIE2 provides the same sound quality as the IE2 but adds a microphone to provide you with telephone capability as well.
Wireless sets. The wireless headset industry has standardized on Bluetooth technology. Over the last few years, Bluetooth headsets have shown significant improvement, evidenced by better reception, better-quality sound transmission, and longer-lived battery charges.
A good Bluetooth headset makes a fine gift and a useful acquisition for yourself. You have a choice of many options in terms of high-quality Bluetooth headsets. My current favorites come from Aliph, Plantronics, and Jabra. Aliph ( www.jawbone.com) calls the newest and hottest offering in its Jawbone line the ICON ($99.99), Plantronics ( www.plantronics.com) calls its top of the line the Discovery 975 ($129.99), and Jabra ( www.jabra.com) calls its top offering the Stone ($129.99). All have noise-reduction technology, all work well with every Bluetooth phone I paired them to, and all do an excellent job. That said, in my experience, wired earphones work better in terms of your ability to hear the person on the other end of the line when you are in a noisy environment. I have not had that problem when using Bluetooth headsets in quieter environments. I often carry both a wireless and a wired earphone set to accommodate a problem environment.
I have found some Bluetooth stereo headsets that I like, such as Jabra’s Halo ($129.99) and Motorola’s MOTOROKR S9 ($69.95; www.motorola.com). The latter is also available as the upgraded S9-HD ($149.99). The S9 and S9-HD look almost identical. They are lightweight and both function very well, handling music and telephony. Both have proven very responsive, with the S9-HD showing better responsiveness and sharpness than the S9.
The gift of media. At Apple’s iTunes store ( www.apple.com/itunes) you can get gift cards that let the recipients purchase any type of media for sale there. They can use the card for music, books, movies, or television shows to add to their collection for playing on their iPad, iPod, or iPhone. The cards also work for the purchase of apps for sale in the iTunes Store. As you probably know from the ads, you can get apps for darn near everything. Some apps come free of charge, and others come at prices ranging from nominal ($0.99) to considerably more expensive (I have seen apps as high as $119.99). The apps provide additional functionality for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad ranging from games, to productivity, to note-taking, to e-book readers, to social networking, to full GPS (global positioning system) navigational devices with turn-by-turn directions. Giving the gift of media allows your recipients to apply your generosity to something they select for themselves.
For travelers seeking to travel light, using their iPhone as a GPS device can avoid the need to carry a separate, dedicated device. Many of the major manufacturers of GPS devices (NAVIGON, Magellan, TomTom) offer apps to bring the functionality of their stand-alone devices to the iPhone and related devices. I have tried the GPS apps from these manufacturers and they all work very well, although not always consistently with each other. I always find it interesting that GPS devices do not all select the same route, even given the same parameters or options. Nevertheless, they all do seem to get you to the desired destination. I have traveled with the iPhone as my GPS device to many destinations without any issue.
A word to the wise: If you plan to use an iPhone as a GPS device, get a holder that will attach the iPhone to the windshield so that it can receive the satellite signal and you can see the display hands-free. Both Magellan and TomTom make iPhone holders that mount to the windshield. Both have GPS receivers built-in, which function better than the iPhone’s receiver. The inclusion of the GPS chip also means that you can use an iPod touch as a GPS device on the road.
Speaker systems. You have many options if you want to connect your iPod or iPhone to a larger speaker system. The folks at Boston Acoustics ( www.bostonacoustics.com) make a shielded unit that works with both the iPod and the iPhone, providing a very nice speaker system for them as well as converting them into an alarm clock with a dual alarm feature. The $249.99 list-price Duo-i plus is just the right size to put on a nightstand by your bed. The Duo-i plus produces excellent sound at lower to midrange volume, with good clarity and a deep bass. The speakers have 100 watts of power to give you plenty of range. Don’t try to blast the neighbors with it, though, as when you crank the volume to a very high level it distorts the bass somewhat. Unless you sleep very soundly, you won’t find any need to crank the sound up high enough to distort the bass in normal usage. The Duo-i plus also comes with a built-in AM/FM tuner. The LCD display adjusts automatically to the lighting in the room. Although Boston Acoustics designed the Duo-i plus to work with the iPhone and the iPod, connections for other devices are included as well.
If you want to crank the volume up a bit more, check out the Boston Acoustics i-DS3 plus ($499.99). The i-DS3 plus speaker system generates 100 watts, but it also comes with a 50-watt wireless down-firing subwoofer to beef up the bass considerably. The i-DS3 plus does not have the alarm or AM/FM features of the Duo-i plus, but it produces a broader, cleaner sound with a more profound bass. The i-DS3 plus works well as an office sound system or as a speaker system in your den or home office. Like the Duo-i plus, the i-DS3 plus has a built-in universal Apple iPod dock as well as line-in connections for other music-playing devices.
Both of these offerings feature excellent sound quality without a lot of frills. A bit on the pricey side, given the feature set, particularly so for the i-DS3 plus, but, to my ear, the sound justifies the price.
Speaking of speakers, you may want to add a set of speakers to your computer or beef up the sound on your laptop. If so, have I found some speakers for you.
Bowers & Wilkins’ MM-1 computer speakers ($499.95) produce some of the best sound I have heard from a small set of computer speakers. The sound is clear, rich, and crisp. The system does not include a subwoofer, but I don’t think you really need one with these speakers. The speakers work well with both Windows and Mac OS computers and make an excellent addition to any computer system. Although they are relatively diminutive in size, they do not come with a carrying case, and I would not think of them as speakers to carry around with you; rather, think of them as providing high-fidelity sound for your desktop or laptop computer in a stationary location.
If you want a less expensive set of speakers for your computer, check out the Bose Computer MusicMonitor ($399.95). Very small, very powerful, and with very clean sound, they come with a case to enhance their portability. Bose also makes a slightly larger and somewhat less expensive set of computer speakers, the $99.95 Companion 2. The Companion 2 gives you a very competent sound system at a very reasonable price but does not generate the sound quality of either the Bose MusicMonitor or the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1.
If you have a MacBook or a MacBook Pro, the folks at Twelve South have something special for you. Their $79.99 BassJump is a USB-powered subwoofer designed for the MacBook (it also works well with the MacBook Pro). It makes a noticeable difference in the sound generated by the laptop, particularly on the bass end. The BassJump comes with a nicely padded, soft-sided case. The BassJump adds a noticeable amount of weight to your bag unless, of course, you are clever enough to have bought luggage with wheels. The BassJump requires that you download software and add it to your laptop, but the software costs nothing (or you could consider it included in the price of the hardware).
Gifting with a theme. Those of you who celebrate the holidays with multiple gifts to loved ones, consider the iPad, iPhone, or iPod as a primary gift with accessories as smaller, less-expensive, secondary gifts. For example, let’s say you needed eight gifts for someone for Hanukkah. To fill your quota and keep a theme, you might give an iPad, a Bluetooth keyboard, an iPad stand, an iPad case, a screen protector and privacy screen, an iPad bag or carrying case, and a nice headset or set of earphones. If you want to do the 12 days of Christmas without figuring out where to plant the pear tree or what to do with the partridge after New Year’s Day or how to feed all those leaping lords (you could start with the partridge roasted in a pear sauce, but then where do you go—one partridge won’t feed many lords . . .), you can take that same collection of eight and add the camera connection kit, a DC charger, an external speaker system, and an iTunes gift card to enable your recipient to purchase media content at the iTunes store. In fact, if you really want to make your shopping easier, you could just go to Costco and buy the iTunes Store gift card packs and give them out. Costco sells four $15 iTunes gift cards in a pack for $55.99. Anyway, I won’t belabor the point; you get the idea.
Hands-Free Office Telephony
Most of us have landlines in our office, and most of the landlines work off of telephones that give us the choice of holding the handset to our ear or using a speakerphone. Although speakerphones free up our hands and prevent us from crimping our neck trying to hold the phone between our cheek and shoulder, they often sound hollow and produce an echo, and they frequently interfere with conference calls. Jabra offers an excellent alternative in the form of its wireless Jabra PRO 9460 headset ($279.99). You get the choice of wearing it as a headset or as an earpiece. I prefer the earpiece myself, but it is purely a matter of personal choice. It handles the ambient noise in an office very well and allows you the freedom to walk around the office while you carry on a telephone conversation. Jabra claims a 500-meter range for this earpiece. I could not verify that, as my office building does not have a corridor that runs 500 meters from my office. I can tell you that my office has very thick walls with steel reinforcement, and I can walk all over the suite while on the phone without any problem. The PRO 9460 has a built-in rechargeable battery that will give you about ten hours of talk time, enough for a full day of telephony for most attorneys. The PRO 9460 also works as a headset for use with your computer for VOIP calls. The PRO 9460 has a touch responsive LCD screen allowing you to see the status of the earpiece and to answer calls. As a separate piece you can get a hands-free telephone handset lifter ($69.99). As you must physically lift the telephone handset to answer the phone with the PRO 9460, you will want to get the attachment to automate the process and allow you to lift and replace the handset remotely.
I Dictate, Therefore I Am!
Digital dictation has taken over as the preferred means of dictation. You can easily upload digital files to transcribing services or e-mail them to your own secretary for transcription. You can also use them with voice-recognition software and have that software transcribe your dictation.
Although you can get satisfactory sound quality from devices not designed to work as professional dictation equipment, you likely will find it frustrating to try to use such a device for dictation. A device designed for dictation will, generally, work better and more efficiently.
Some dictation devices work with a wireless or hard-wired (USB) connections to a computer. I prefer freestanding devices as I can use them in my office or anywhere else I happen to be, without a connection to a computer. They do not come cheaply but afford far greater flexibility than the other options.
If you plan to stay in the office when you dictate, you might consider the wired SpeechMike series (ranging from $279 to $299), or, alternatively, the wireless SpeechMike Air ($499), all from Philips ( www.dictation.philips.com). Both are well made and work reliably. Both require that you use them in immediate proximity of a computer. The SpeechMike models require a physical (USB) connection to a computer. The SpeechMike Air allows you to walk around your office and dictate, transmitting wirelessly to your computer. Even if you sit in front of the computer while dictating, the wireless feature makes the process more convenient. I also prefer the slide-switch for controlling dictation over the push-button models; I learned to dictate with slide-switch equipment and find push-button controllers cumbersome. Philips uses Windows-only software; so, while I was able to make the SpeechMikes work on the Mac in some fashion, the full features of the SpeechMikes will not be available to you on a Mac. Accordingly, if you plan on using the device with a Mac, you should bypass the SpeechMikes.
My first choice for free-standing dictation is the Olympus DS-5000 (list price $449.99; www.olympus.com). The Olympus recorders work well with computers on both the Windows and the Mac OS platforms. I have recommended both the current model and its predecessor (the DS-4000). As the DS-5000 has been out for a while, it has become less likely that you can find a DS-4000 unit, but, if you do, you may get it discounted—and that makes it an even better buy. I prefer the DS-5000 to the DS-4000 as I like its look and feel as well as its feature set, but the DS-4000 was (and remains) a solid and reliable unit. I used mine for several years before replacing it with the DS-5000. I still have the 4000 and it still works just fine.
Philips’ top-of-the-line entry in the category of freestanding dictation devices, the Digital Pocket Memo (DPM) 9600, sells for $499. The 9600 works just fine on the Windows platform. It does not work as well with the Mac OS, and Philips does not claim Mac compatibility. As a practical matter, transferring files from the 9600 to the Mac may require removing the memory card and plugging it into the Mac using a card reader as some Macs will not recognize the 9600 when plugged into its USB port. Even that is not always reliable, as I have seen some files work fine and others not at all. Get the Olympus if you ever plan on working with a Mac. If you know you will only work with a Windows computer in terms of files generated by the recording device, the Philips and the Olympus both work just fine and should serve you well.
Every presenter should have both a point and a pointer. Logitech offers two excellent models at reasonable prices, the R400 ($49.99) and the R800 ($99.99). The R400 and the R800 have very similar appearances, but the feature sets differ substantially. Both of the devices give you a good and reliable wireless controller and a built-in laser pointer. The R400 gives you a 50’ wireless range and a red laser pointer, while the R800 gives you a 100’ wireless range and a green laser pointer. The green laser pointer gives you considerably more power than the more commonly used red laser pointers. Both devices come with a pre-paired USB connector and work well with both Mac OS X and Windows devices. Additionally, the R800 has a built-in LCD display showing you the time, battery charge strength, and wireless reception.
Big Images from Small Projectors
Recently, projector manufacturers have built some incredibly small projectors designed to provide extreme portability. I looked at three of these “pico projectors” in the process of preparing to write the gift guide. All three of the projectors produce passable images, but nothing as sharp as you would get from a larger and more powerful (brighter) projector. All three have relatively low light production (brightness); all three come in very small packages. All three have limited utility for practicing attorneys but could prove quite handy to have around for personal use. Each of them provides the opportunity to project still images or video from certain smart phones and similar devices or your computer onto a wall or screen as a reasonably large image, but they work effectively only in a dimly lit room.
The three units I looked at are the MPro120 from 3M ($299; www.3m.com), the P2 from AAXA Technologies ($299; www.aaxatech.com), and the Pico PK101 from Optoma Technology ($199.99; www.optomausa.com). The MPro120 stands 0.98” x 4.7” x 2.3”, weighs in at 5.6 ounces, and generates 12 lumens and an image size of 8” to 50”. The P2 measures 1” x 4.3” x 2.3”, weighs 9.17 ounces, and generates 33 lumens and an image size of 7” to 80”. The Pico PK101 measures 0.59” x 4.06” x 1.97”, weighs 4 ounces, and generates 11 lumens and an image size of 6” to 60”.
Because the P2 generates three times the number of lumens as the other two projectors, logic suggests that it would appear three times as bright as the other two. It does not work that way. You see an image that looks somewhat brighter. Although it may produce three times the lumens, you do not see an image that appears three times as bright. A trade-off of the extra brightness is that the P2 is larger, heavier, and draws more battery power to produce the extra lumens, so you get a shorter battery life per charge.
All three of these manufacturers have introduced other pico projectors generating an increasing number of lumens. I did not have the opportunity to examine these units. You might want to check them out before deciding which to get.
Several manufacturers have produced dedicated electronic book readers. You likely have heard the names of the best-known of these devices: the Sony Reader, the Barnes & Noble Nook, and the Amazon Kindle. All three have recently lowered their prices and generated updated models. I have tried all of them and like them for different reasons, but the new Kindle has emerged as my favorite of the lot. If you do not want to spend the money to get an iPad (which can emulate the Nook and the Kindle as well as act as the Apple iBook reader) or you want a dedicated e-book reader because you prefer the e-ink technology used by Sony, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble (as well as several lesser-known e-book reader manufacturers), I recommend the Kindle. Overall, it has impressed me as the best of the lot in terms of features and value. The new model of the Kindle is smaller overall (with no reduction in the 6” screen size), lighter, and less expensive, has much improved contrast, and draws less power (meaning the battery charge lasts longer) than its predecessor. It also comes in graphite as well as white. The new Kindle comes in a WiFi-only version for $139 or a WiFi-plus-3G version for $189 ( www.amazon.com). The 3G version provides free access to Amazon’s Whispernet for delivering content. You can also get the larger, heavier DX (9.7” screen) for $379.
The new Kindle measures 7.5” x 4.8” x 0.335” and weighs only 8.5 ounces (8.7 ounces for the 3G model). It will hold approximately 3,500 books and can download books in approximately 60 seconds or less in 100 countries and territories using Whispernet or wherever you can get a wireless Internet connection using WiFi. The battery charge lasts about ten days with Whispernet on and a month with Whispernet off. If you want a dedicated e-reader that works well, travels well, and gives the choice of a large selection of reading material, the Kindle may be what you seek. I still like mine and use it, even though I have an iPad as well.
Travel in the Green
We have all heard a lot lately about global warming and the importance of reducing our carbon footprint. At the same time, my doctor keeps telling me that I need to get more exercise. With these concepts firmly in mind, I came across the Xootr company ( www.xootr.com). Xootr got its reputation building excellent kick scooters—these are not your 12-year-old’s scooter! The company designed its scooters for older and larger users than some of its competitors. Xootr has an excellent line of models at reasonable prices. The scooters fold down for easy carrying and give you an inexpensive, ecologically sound way to do a little traveling and, at the same time, to get some exercise. The Xootr scooters have a longer and wider foot bed than most and fold up nicely, and you can easily take them with you in your car, on a train, or even for an airplane ride. When you get to your destination, open up the scooter, give it a kick-start, and roll merrily along.
The best scooter to get is Xootr’s newest and one of their least expensive, the $219 Xootr Mg. The Mg comes in red, blue, or black. It is rated at supporting 250 pounds of rider weight and only weighs about 10 pounds itself. The light weight and impressive strength of the Xootr Mg come from the fact that it is made from solid magnesium. If you want a heavier-weight scooter, you should check out the Xootr Street ($279). Made of machined 6061-T6 aluminum with structurally integrated ribs for extra strength, the Street weighs just less than 11 pounds and supports 300 pounds of rider weight. It comes in silver. The scooters can be a lot of fun and a reasonable amount of exercise. If you get one, don’t forget to wear a bike helmet. Also, plan on traveling as light as possible; if you need to carry a lot, you should invest in a backpack to allow you to use the scooter while distributing the weight of the cargo evenly. That way, you can use the scooter without losing your balance.
Xootr also makes a folding bike that it calls the Xootr Swift. The Xootr Swift lists for $749, comes in silver or blue, and weighs 24 pounds. You can get the bike in small, medium, large, XL, and XXL sizes. You can find the corresponding height chart on the Xootr website. Xootr claims that you can fold the bike down in five to ten seconds, but I think that takes a bit of practice. The first time I tried, it took about four to five minutes; after a bit of practice, it now usually takes me 30 to 60 seconds. I am sure it would take less time if I did not have the cross-rack and cargo bag mounted on the bike—but they are quite clever and very convenient, so I will leave them on. The bike works very well. It is not the most comfortable bike I have ever ridden, but it travels nicely and folds up to easily fit in the back of my car. Be sure to wear a good bike helmet (hey, there’s another good gift idea. . . ).
Jeffrey Allen is the principal in the small law firm of Graves & Allen in Oakland, California, with a general practice that, since 1973, has emphasized negotiation, structuring, and documentation of real estate acquisitions, loans, and other business transactions, receiverships, related litigation, and bankruptcy. He also works extensively as an arbitrator and a mediator. He serves as the editor of the Technology eReport and the Technology & Practice Guide issues of GPSolo magazine. He is also a member of the ABA Journal Board of Editors. He regularly presents at substantive law and technology-oriented programs for attorneys and writes for several legal trade magazines. In addition to being licensed as an attorney in California, he has been admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales. He holds faculty positions at California State University of the East Bay and the University of Phoenix. You may contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jeffrey Allen blogs on technology and the practice of law at www.jallenlawtekblog.com .Copyright 2010