Hot New Converged Mobile Phone/PDA/+
Prior to the release of the PalmOne Treo 650 telephone, PalmOne had what I believe to be the best phone/PDA converged device on the market, the Treo 600. Although the 600 was a very good phone, it had a few flaws. PalmOne has corrected most of those faults in creating the Treo 650, which now replaces its predecessor as my choice for the best phone/PDA on the market.
The most significant improvements introduced in the 650 include: (1) a much improved display (sharper, clearer, brighter), (2) an improved keyboard (thumb board) design and layout, (3) built-in Bluetooth, (4) increased memory, and (5) replaceable batteries. Other improvements include: a slightly faster processor, video capture for the built-in camera, MP3 capabilities, and an upgraded interface. Another significant change is the fact that PalmOne has created a new universal interface. The good news is that the Treo 650 will have the same interface as the PalmOne Tungsten T5 and PalmOne’s newer offerings. The bad news is that the new interface differs from both the old “universal” connector and the Treo 600’s connector. Accordingly, none of your older Palm or Treo 600 accessories (except for some cases and styli) will work with the Treo 650.
The perceived quality of reception and clarity of sound always has a subjective component. My use of the 650 caused me to conclude that its reception showed some improvement over the 600.
Like its progenitor, the 650 comes in CDMA and GSM flavors. The CDMA phone came out first, locked into the Sprint network. A few months later (in February 2005) PalmOne released the GSM phone in two forms, one locked to specific providers and the second as an unlocked phone that will work with any GSM system. PalmOne’s price for the unlocked phone is $50 more than the locked phone. However, none of the telephone service providers have yet offered any discounts on the unlocked phones (and they probably won’t in the foreseeable future). They have reserved the discounts (rebates) for the phones locked to their system. If you do not get a factory-unlocked version of the phone, it will likely be possible to get it unlocked in the future. Palm has not indicated an intent to release the unlock code, but unlock codes are available for most of the locked GSM phones. Unlocking a phone enables it to accept and work off of virtually any provider’s SIM card. By way of example, the CDMA Sprint version purchased in conjunction with a new Sprint one-year contract or a one-year extension of an existing service agreement receives a $100 Sprint service credit; a two-year new contract/extension gets a $150 Sprint service credit. www.palmone.com.
— Reviewed by Jeffrey Allen
Scan This! HP 8250 Scanner
The scanner has recently evolved to the level of an essential piece of office equipment for most attorneys. Historically, the scanner offered some useful features, but most offices could get along without it. Not so now. Many courts allow electronic filing as an option. Some courts now require it. Although you can easily get PDF files (the format generally required) without a scanner from documents created in your office, you need a scanner for exhibits and third-party documents.
Over the years, HP has developed a reputation for making excellent scanners. The HP 8000 series scanners are another example of excellence by HP. I looked at the mid-range scanner in the series, the 8250. If you want a scanner that will give you the bare bones minimum of what you need to do electronic filing, the 8250 is overkill. If you want a full-featured scanner that handles electronic filing, conversion of paper documents to electronic files for record keeping, and both low and hi-res color photographs—well, then you want to look hard at the 8250. Its $899.99 price may deter some, but its features will justify that cost to many.
The 8250 starts out as a flatbed scanner, enabling it to handle bound pages as well as single pages of up to legal-sized paper in size (8.5" x 14"). Automatic document feed (ADF) is essential for converting larger quantities of documents to electronic files for record keeping, backup, and trial organization and presentation purposes. The 8250 includes an ADF that takes up to 50 pages and runs at up to 15 pages per minute
Actual experience shows that scanning speed varies significantly as a function of the documents and settings (higher resolution scans take more time). Scanning a standard black-and-white text document without optical character recognition (OCR) to convert it to searchable text took only a few seconds. The OCR process added from 30–60 seconds to the process. A 4" x 6" color photo took about 35 seconds to scan.
The 8250 will scan at up to 4800 x 4800 dpi. The scanner has a 22.4" x 15.7" footprint and stands 7.7" high. It uses high speed USB 2.0 to connect to the computer and comes with instant-on technology, so it is always available quickly. The scanner works with both the Windows and the Macintosh platforms. The software package includes HP Photo & Imaging software, Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Acrobat Reader, NewSoft Presto! BizCard Reader, IRIS ReadIris Pro, TWAIN and ISIS drivers, ScanSoft PaperPort Deluxe, and ScanSoft OmniForm. The ScanSoft programs are Windows only, and Macintosh versions do not exist. The HP and Adobe software equivalents for the Macintosh come on the disk.
The scanner requires some assembly as you need to connect the ADF to the flatbed, but the assembly and installation process are not difficult and should take only a few minutes to complete.
— Reviewed by Jeffrey Allen
As a busy lawyer, every day you accumulate more and more business cards, finding them lurking all around your office desk. Well, the folks at www.alestron.com have a small but mighty solution for you! PenPower WorldCard is business productivity software for business card scanning, recognition, and management. It’s a business card scanner. The scanner that comes with it is one of the smallest in the market. The scanner’s portable size makes it ideal for those who are traveling on the road, and its batch scanning (scan in first, edit later) function makes it a perfect product for busy business people on the go and for collecting contact information at trade shows and conferences. You can directly synchronize your data with Outlook, Outlook Express, Pocket PC contacts, and Palm contacts! Likewise, you have the ability to export to other databases such as Access/Excel/CSV/vCard. The scanner enters into continuous scanning mode when you scan any card. When you finish with one card, as long as you insert another card within 10 seconds, the scanner will automatically start to scan the next card.
Alestron makes two versions of the business card scanner: a black-and-white and a color unit. The black and white unit measures 4" x 2" x 1" and weighs 2.5 ounces. It connects to the computer through the USB port and requires no additional power source. The color version is 7" x 3" x 1.75". Both are compatable with Palm, Pocket PC, and a variety of computer calendar/contact programs. Both also have infrared capability, allowing you to beam contact information to a Palm or Pocket PC device or telephone. The World Card Office B&W costs $129.99; the color model costs $149.99. Both are good investments in organizing your business cards. Windows only.
— Reviewed by Alan Pearlman