Reviewed by Jeffrey Allen
HP Compaq (HP/C) kindly let me use one of the new nc8200 series laptops it has recently put on the market to give me a chance to familiarized myself with it and put it through its paces. HP/C has adopted a focus on mobility and has worked to create a series of tools for the mobile professional. HP/C introduced the nc8200 laptop in that context; the press kit including the nc8200 bears the title “Mobility-2005.”
The nc8200’s weight of 5.7+ pounds (actual weight is a function of the configuration) makes it a medium-weight laptop. The nc8200 has the advantage of a 15.4” high-resolution wide-format display, making it easy on the eyes. The display presents sharp and crisp images when set at its highest resolution. Personally, I found it more comfortable to scale the resolution down a bit to make the images a bit larger (a function of my own middle-aged vision). I found the full-sized keyboard responsive and comfortable to use. HP/C has tried to accommodate a variety of personal preferences in terms of navigation around the screen. The computer comes with a point stick navigator (like a mini-joystick) as well as a touch pad. Those more oriented towards using a mouse can always plug one in and use it. The laptop has two rows of three mouse-click buttons one on the bottom of the built-in touchpad and the other at the bottom of the keypad to make it easy to reach a button from either position.
HP/C currently offers the nc8200 series as the nc8230 in a variety of configurations, so you can pretty much build it to your needs. The computer uses a Mobile Intel Express 915M chip set, and you have the choice of several Pentium M processors running at between 1.6 and 2.13 GHz. It comes standard with 512MB of RAM (upgradeable to 2GB). You can choose among hard disks in several sizes and two speeds. The laptop has a wide array of ports for connectivity, including both USB 2.0 and FireWire. The base configuration includes a CD R/W +DVD R optical drive in the multibay. Other devices can replace the optical drive. For a full outline of the computer’s specifications, go to the HP/C website.
I got about 4 hours of use per charge of the main battery. HP/C makes an auxiliary exterior travel battery available as well. The travel battery suffers from the disadvantages of its size, weight, and shape (large and U-shaped). However, HP/C designed the battery to fit under the computer, and the size and configuration facilitate that as well as providing some elevation to the back of the keyboard to angle it for more comfortable use. The configuration also has the advantage of providing air circulation under the laptop, as it does get fairly warm after extended use.
The nc8230 is currently available online from HP/C at $1,349 with 512MB of RAM, a 40 GB (5400 rpm) hard disk, a DVD/CD RW multibay drive, a 15.4” TFT WXGA WVA screen, a 1.7 GHz processor, and Microsoft Windows XP Professional. When I reconfigured it to include 1 GB of RAM, a 2.0 GHz processor, an 80 GB hard disk, and a CD RW/DVD RW multibay drive, the cost increased to $2,149. HP/C provides a 3-year warranty as a part of the purchase price, and you can upgrade the warranty if you wish.
Although HP/C doesn’t advertise the 8230 as a desktop replacement, I found that for most uses it worked well in that capacity. To facilitate such use, HP/C does offer a variety of docking stations and a laptop stand, allowing you to work with the laptop screen or a larger external monitor.
HP/C has set up a support site to facilitate software upgrades as well. The site has software that checks the configuration of your computer and its system software, then determines what updates you should install both from its own website for drivers, bios and other software, and from the Microsoft site for Windows and for Office.
The computer impressed me with its style, mobility, power, and durability. I consider it an excellent choice for a mobile attorney.
Keeping in Sync
Reviewed by Jeffrey Allen
For those of you who use PDAs with Macs, good news abounds. First, let’s talk about the Palm OS side of the room. Most of the lawyers that I know who use Palm devices do not use the Palm Desktop software. Instead, they have chosen more sophisticated programs that provide them with more features. Palm users have had the ability to use their Palm device with third-party contact and calendar software for many years. Interestingly, most Palm device users continue to use Palm’s HotSync to synchronize their contact and calendar information between their computers and their Palm devices.
I have used Palm devices for many years and have found them extremely helpful in my practice. Although I have used a variety of contact and calendar programs over the years, I continued to use HotSync to transfer information between PDA and computer. As a long time HotSync user, I understood its shortcomings and recognized that it has not kept up with the times.
Several months ago I decided to try a program called Missing Sync for Palm OS. Like Wally Pipp after his now famous headache that gave Lou Gehrig the chance to play first base for the Yankees, HotSync never got another chance to play. From the first time that I used Missing Sync, I perceived it as significantly better than HotSync. I have used it ever since.
Why would anyone want to buy a program like the Missing Sync when HotSync comes free? Simply because it has a better and easier-to-use interface. It provides more features. It works faster. You can get the Missing Sync for Palm OS for $39 as a download ($49 to get it on CD) from MarkSpace ( http://www.markspace.com/missingsync_palmos.php).
You can go to the MarkSpace website and see the complete list of features as well as compare them to the far less capable HotSync. Download a demo program and give it a try. Installation consists of double clicking on the install program, letting it install the package, and then restarting your computer. The installation process will automatically disable HotSync so that it will not conflict with Missing Sync. Trying the demo will likely leave you so impressed with the Missing Sync that you will bench HotPipper WallySync and switch to the Missing Sync.
For those of you who use Windows mobile devices, MarkSpace also has a Missing Sync for Windows Mobile available
For those Mac users who have lusted after a Blackberry only to learn that it will not sync with the Mac—surprise! It will. A company called PocketMac ( www.pocketmac.com) has created a program called PocketMac for Blackberry. You can get it for $29.95 online. The program allows you to synchronize data between a Mac computer and a Blackberry device. It works extremely well with both Entourage data and with iCal and Address Book. I have tried it with both and used it on an iMac G5 and a PowerBook G4 with no problems whatsoever. I used it with one of the new RIM Blackberry 7100 devices working with the Cingular system (an extremely nice device, but that is another review). Blackberries and Macs now play very nicely together.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Allen
NextClient ( www.nextclient.com) offers lawyers a quick, easy, and reasonably priced means of building and maintaining a website. The firm has developed a simple process for the construction of your website. Its staff creates and posts website designs on its server for your review. Once you select a design and contract with them, they remove the design from the server, so that others cannot choose it. Then, using their Custom WebExpress software and the selected design, you build your site.
Construction of the site, while not as easy as falling off of a log, could not be much easier. You simply insert your information and upload specific content that you want included into one of the website templates, and you have a website. You can easily modify the site at any time from any Windows OS computer. The system allows you to add documents as well as other information, so that you can easily upload articles you have published, PowerPoint presentations for programs you have taught, newsletters you have written, or any other document you have created that you want posted on your website. If you get stuck, their technical support people will hold your hand and walk you through the process to make sure you get it right.
In addition to its design features, NextClient will host your website on its servers and provide additional substantive content in the form of weekly newsletters in one of 26 subject areas, which they load directly to your site for you. With your website, you get a mail server and e-mail addresses for your domain name. In short, you have a web presence and continuously updated information. The cost for the entire package: a one-time set up fee of $295 and a monthly fee of $99 per month to host and maintain your site and e-mail on its servers as well as provide a weekly newsletter in the substantive area you choose for your site.
In the process of my evaluation of the site, NextClient impressed me so much that I used their services to create my own law office site (to which I still need to upload more articles and presentations). If you would like to see my site, you can find it at www.gravesallen.com. I have been very satisfied with their services. I encourage you to look at their site and see what they can make available to you.
Neither the ABA nor ABA Sections endorse non-ABA products or services, and the product reviews in the Technology eReport should not be so construed.