B.E. Guide To Business Technology

B.E. Guide To Business Technology

Countless things contribute to the success of a business and the technology you use is only one factor. You may not need to go out and buy the hottest tools on the market; not every technology is for every business or for every businessperson. We want to make sure you know which tools are right for your business and for you.

Here, we take a look at four hardware technologies that could make a difference in the way you do business. First we look at tablet PCs that pack the power of a desktop or notebook computer, and that have the go-anywhere grace of paper and pen. Next we look at wireless networks—brands that do more for your business than sport a buzzword that’s already long in the tooth. We take a fresh look at handheld/wireless phone combos, and finally, do you know who’s attacking your network? And how to stop them? We’ll tell you.

The Nokia 9290 Communicator (www.nokia.com; $599.99) is a large 6.22″x2.20″x1.06″ unit that weighs 8.6 oz., sports a miniature QWERTY keyboard, and has a high resolution TFT active-matrix display. You get phone, fax, and e-mail capability, the ability to write short messages, wireless office, and other utilities in a PDA. Optional accessories include a $149 digital camera.

Belkin’s Wireless Headset (www.belkin.com; $109.99) is for Bluetooth-enabled wireless phones. To whip up a wireless LAN, you’ll need to buy a wireless network access point, which connects to your network switch or gateway router and ties your card-carrying 802.11 devices together as a network.

The Handspring Treo 300 (www.handspring.com; $499) is a 16MB Palm organizer that fits easily in a shirt pocket and features a QWERTY keyboard and a PCS full-color screen. The Treo can receive SMS messages and supports IR (beaming). You can download RecoEcho Plus, a third-party graffiti program, for free. In addition to e-mail, you get Web access through the Blazer browser, which is more like a desktop browser than a mobile phone browser.

The Fujitsu Stylistic ST4000 Tablet PC (www.fujitsu.com) is also a slate, but accepts a keyboard that’s included. It retails from $2,099 with modem and Ethernet to $2,698 with Ethernet, 802.11b wireless LAN, docking station, and DVD/CD-RW drive.

Convertibles, such as the Compaq TC1000 (www.compaq.com), let you carry what appears to be a digital writing tablet with a stylus (digital pen), but it opens up to reveal a keyboard inside. To view the screen, which was the outside lid a moment before, just flip or swivel it over and start typing as you watch the display. You can remove the keyboard to travel even more lightly, or add a docking station to your desk if you want to spread out and add peripherals. The Compaq retails from $1,699 (1GHz processor, 256MB RAM, 30GB hard drive, one year warranty) to $2,149 (1GHz processor, 512MB RAM, 40GB hard drive, 802.11b wireless LAN, three year warranty).

The ViewSonic Tablet PC V1100 (www.viewsonic.com) is a stand-alone slate model with an estimated street price of $1,995. A dock and keyboard are optional.

Like Fujitsu’s, Gateway’s