General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division

A service of the ABA General Practice, Solo & Small Firm Division

Technology eReport

American Bar Association - Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice

May 2008

Vol. 7, No. 2

Columns

  • MacNotes »
    It is the best of times for Mac Lawyers.
  • SurvivingEmail »
    We tell you where you can put it (your email, of course!).
  • Sites for Sore Eyes »
    See You Later, at the Aggregators!
  • ProductNotes »
    ChargePod, Xerox Phaser 8860 Color Printer, and IN Focus IN37.
  • DivisionNotes »
    Reports to House of Delegates Due, Law Firm Merchant Account™, Office Depot Discount, book spotlight ,and Spring 2008 issue of SOLO.

ProductNotes

A Different Kind of Pod

The folks at a small company named CallPod ( www.callpod.com) came up with a great idea. They call it the ChargePod. The ChargePod allows you to concurrently charge up to six of your mobile devices (telephones, Smart Phones, GPS devices, cameras, DVD players, iPods, Bluetooth earphones, etc.) using a single adapter that connects to a wall plug or to the cigarette lighter/power plug in a vehicle. The ChargePod consists of a round hub with seven connecting ports, interchangeable power cables to AC and DC sources, and interchangeable cables for your devices. Cleverly, they connection cables for the devices only a few inches long, so that they do not take up much space; neither do they create the messy appearance normally caused by a collection of cables.

You can buy the ChargePod in kits including the hub, AC and DC chargers, and a preselected set of device adapters for $99. You also get a carrying case for the set. Alternatively, if you don’t like the selection of adapters in the preselected kits, you can simply buy the parts and build your own kit.

The ChargePod saves the inconvenience of carrying numerous charging adapters and also the trouble of finding a sufficient number of convenient outlets in your hotel room, home, or office. You only need one outlet to charge up to six devices.

I like the ChargePod, use it at home, and bring it when I travel. The one thing the designers screwed up, however, was their decision to use a large charging brick and a plug that does not fold down. It would pack much better with a smaller brick or, even with the same-sized brick if the plug prongs folded down, like those on many adapters do. Rumor has it that CallPod has figured that out as their website indicates that they will have a smaller charger available in the relatively near future at a supplemental price. Hopefully, they will use the smaller charger to replace the large one in their kits so that users won’t have to pay extra for it.

[Photo of ChargePod]

Xerox Phaser 8860 Color Printer

I have used Xerox ( www.xerox.com) Phaser color solid ink printers in my office for about 5 or 6 years. The current version I own is about a year old and a generation behind the 8860. When Xerox offered me the opportunity to test its 8860 Phaser printer, I eagerly accepted the opportunity. True to my experience with the Phaser printers, the 8860 produced excellent quality black-and-white and color prints. Once it starts printing, the 8860 can produce up to 30 pages per minute (if you print multiple copies of the same document). The printer tries to economize on energy, so it goes into a deep sleep if not used, and you have to wake it up to get it to print. If you print only occasionally, you may have to wake it up each time you print; that will add some time to your printing.

I like the Phaser line a lot. I think of Phaser printers as ideal for a small- or medium-sized law office, and several of them could easily handle the needs of a larger office. My preference for the solid ink printers relates to the quality they produce, the efficiency of the printer, and the “green” nature of the technology. Xerox has calculated that a Phaser printer generates 24 pounds of waste in printing 192,000 pages, while a typical laser printer generates 312 pounds of waste in printing 192,000 pages. That substantial difference primarily results from the fact that the Phaser hard ink technology does not employ the use of replaceable ink cartridges, as do laser printers. Also related to the use of the hard ink technology, the Phaser prints, over the long run, at a lower per copy cost than the laser or inkjet printers. It is common knowledge that the inkjet printers have a higher per copy cost than most laser printers. Xerox’s statistics indicate that traditional laser printers will cost less at up to approximately 800 copies per month. After that, the Phaser printer costs less per page. In a study done by Xerox, the cost of supplies (exclusive of a maintenance contract) for a Phaser printer that prints 2,000 copies per month over a three-year period came to $4,500. The cost of supplies (exclusive of a maintenance agreement) for the laser printer to generate the same quantity of pages came to $6,400.

The 8860 Xerox rates the duty cycle of the 8860 at 120,000 pages per month (assuming substantially equal daily usage). I use the duty cycle as a guide in that the greater the difference between the rated duty cycle and my average use, the more likely the printer will last a long time and provide few problems in its operation. So far, that has worked out well for me with the Phaser printers.

The 8860 I used did not have any of the optional supplemental memory or the optional hard disk that you can add to it. I did have a second paper feed drawer, however, as I find it far more efficient to have a second paper feed drawer. The 8860, like most of the Phaser line, comes in a fully networkable configuration, allowing it to plug into your Ethernet network and start printing. Installation consists of running the software installer for each computer in your office and letting the installed program find the printer and connect to it. The printer, like all the other Phaser printers I have used, works well with both Macintosh and Windows computers and plays nicely with Mac’s OS X (Tiger and Leopard) as well as Windows XP and Vista. Likely it works with other operating systems as well, but I did not test the 8860 with others.

As with its other Phaser printers, Xerox built the 8860 to take blocks of solid ink. The solid ink comes in four colors: yellow, cyan, black and magenta. The printer mixes the other colors you print using the primary colors of the solid ink blocks. Every once in a while, you need to toss out the residue of melted ink it catches in its waste drawer. Other than the replacement of a single maintenance cartridge every so often, you have no other waste generated by the printer. Each block of solid ink has a rating of approximately 14,000 pages. The printer lets you know when it needs you to add a new solid ink block. (It does like to have a substantial reservoir available to ensure that it does not run out.) Adding the solid ink block should not prove too daunting. Xerox has made a cutout for each color and configured each color differently. Unless you take out a knife or similar tool and reconfigure the block, you cannot possibly put the wrong color of solid ink into the printer slot for any given color. While I find that feature very clever, it leads to a related feature that I do not particularly like. The solid ink block configurations differ for each printer that I have used; accordingly, you cannot use blocks from the 8860 on an 8560 or vice versa. That means that if you upgrade from one Phaser printer to another, you cannot move the supplies to the new printer. Similarly, if you have two different Phaser printers, you need to have two sets of supplies. While I do not like that particular “feature,” it does not outweigh the overall benefits I see in the technology, nor does it counterbalance the print quality the Phaser system yields.

The 8860 comes near the top of the line of the Phaser printers for office use. Its price reflects that fact as it lists for $2,499; however, Xerox currently offers a $500 rebate on the purchase of an 8860DN (duplex, networkable), bringing the net price down to $1,999. That price makes sense for larger offices and even medium-sized offices. Solo practitioners and small firms may find it a bit pricey, notwithstanding the fact that the per page production cost differential will make the less expensive to purchase laser or inkjet printers cost more over the long run. Xerox does, however, have other printers in its Phaser line that cost less and work very well for a smaller office.

I have no problem recommending the 8860 to a medium or larger office or a small office with high-volume paper printing production. I was very pleased with the printer when I tested it. For cost considerations, I would suggest that you look at the Phaser 8560N or DN for a smaller office with a lower volume of paper printing production. The 8560DN has most of the same features as the 8860 DN, costs substantially less, and still has a duty cycle rating of 85,000 pages per month, a number that most small offices will not likely approach. The 8560 DN currently lists for $899.

[Xerox Phaser 8860 Color Printer]
Photo courtesy of Xerox, Inc.

In Focus IN 37

In Focus provides big projecting power in a relatively small package in its new IN 37 DLP projector. The IN 37 has a high and low power providing 2,200 and 3,000 lumens of brilliance, respectively, making it suitable for virtually any use, including courtroom presentations. The low power setting, aside from saving electricity, does run noticeably quieter than the high power setting; so you will want to go with the lower power when you can, particularly in smaller rooms.

The IN 37 works with VGA (640 x 480), SVGA (800 x 600), XGA (1024 x 768), SXGA (1280 x 1024), and SXGA Plus (1400 x 1050) resolutions. The projector has inputs for DVI, Component (RCA), S Video, and Composite (RCA) plugs. The projector comes with a native 4:3 aspect ratio, but also supports 16:9 and 5:4 aspect ratios. It has a contrast ratio of 14:1.

The projector weighs only five pounds and stands 2.93" tall with a footprint about the size of a sheet of paper, 10.36" x 8.6". The IN 37 lists for $1,299, but you can find it for less online. It comes with a two-year warranty from In Focus. In Focus projects a lamp life of 3,500 hours in low power mode and 2,000 hours in high power mode.

If you have a large case (preferably wheeled), you can fit the projector and your laptop in the same case. I have done that with the Wenger Patriot case, for example. Alternatively, In Focus sells a small case designed to hold the projector and its accessories.

The projector plays well with computers on both Windows and the Mac platforms. I found it easy to set up and use. It presented clear, bright, and sharp images with excellent color rendition.

I liked this one so much I got one for myself!

Jeffrey Allen is the principal in the law firm of Graves & Allen 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. Graves & Allen is a small firm in Oakland, California. Mr. Allen 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 regularly presents at substantive law and technology-oriented programs for lawyers and writes for several legal trade magazines. In addition to being licensed as an attorney in California, Jeffrey 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 can contact Jeffrey via e-mail at

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