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Sony CLIE PEG-SJ33

Sony CLIE PEG-SJ33

Hot on the heels of the PEG-SJ30 comes Sony's newest CLIE, the SJ33. It seems that the company has taken criticism of the SJ30 to heart, for the new model is different and better designed than its elder sibling, boasting a slick clamshell configuration and integrated MP3 playback. Although the SJ33 is not without flaws, its improvements far outweigh its imperfections, making it a good handheld for the money.

March 19, 2003 by in Mobility

Dell Inspiron 8500

Dell Inspiron 8500

Dell should bundle a big supply of popcorn with its new Inspiron 8500 series, because the laptop's awesome 15.4in. wide-aspect display will have you watching DVD movies all night. This completely redesigned desktop replacement system has plenty more in store as well, including the fastest Mobile Pentium 4-M processors, integrated dual-band antennae for 802.11b and 802.11g wireless and excellent performance. All of these features are wrapped in a silver case that you can customise with QuickSnap lid covers in a variety of colours. For all that it offers, the Inspiron 8500 range's £1,256 (ex. VAT) starting price is reasonable. Any way you look at it, you'd be hard-pressed to come up with a cooler, faster desktop replacement notebook than the Inspiron 8500 series, which is why it's an Editors' Choice in this category.

March 18, 2003 by in Laptops

Panasonic LF-D521 DVD Burner II

Panasonic LF-D521 DVD Burner II

Panasonic is making a concerted effort to see DVD-RAM take off more widely outside Japan, where it has enjoyed huge success. DVD-RAM is one of the formats, alongside DVD-R and DVD-RW, that is supported by the 219-strong DVD Forum. The big advantage of DVD-RAM over DVD-R/-RW (and the DVD+R/+RW formats supported by the 55-member DVD alliance) is that it does not require special burning software: files can be dragged and dropped using any file manager utility. A second advantage is the durability: DVD-RAM discs can be rewritten up to 100,000 times -- in contrast to the 1,000 rewrites supported by DVD-RW and DVD+RW standards.

March 17, 2003 by in Storage

InFocus LP650

InFocus LP650

InFocus has been producing business projectors for a long time now, and is known for high-quality and occasionally innovative products. Although the LP650's optical specification is respectable, it's not amazing. However, in line with the company's business focus, this is a network-connected, controllable and manageable projector that's designed primarily for the corporate meeting room. It's just a shame that it requires some proprietary software to achieve this.

March 14, 2003 by in Hardware

Dell Latitude D600

Dell Latitude D600

The thin-and-light Latitude D600 series, based on the new Pentium M processor, marks the start of an ambitious new corporate look for Dell. Not only has the company redesigned all of its popular Latitude laptops, it has also reworked its docking stations, port replicators, and media modules. The notebooks carry the very latest components, including Pentium M processors and Intel's new 855 chipset. The D600 series isn't always a true-blue Centrino, but it can be. The company offers either the Centrino-completing Intel PRO/Wireless 2100 Mini-PCI card, known as Calexico, or Dell Computer's own TrueMobile Wi-Fi Mini-PCI cards, supporting 802.11b/g or a/b/g. If your corporate budget includes money for a new notebook line, the Latitude D series is a wise way to spend it.

March 13, 2003 by in Laptops

Sony VAIO PCG-Z1SP

Sony VAIO PCG-Z1SP

Thin, light and stylish, Sony's VAIO PCG-Z1SP, which will be available on 17 March, has all the designer chic that a fashion-conscious user could wish for. But beneath the surface gloss, does this 1.5GHz Pentium M/Centrino system deliver the goods in terms of performance and battery life? Our testing of this pre-production unit suggests that although performance is very good, you may need to buy the optional extended-life battery to put this system's mains-free longevity on a par with competing Pentium M/Centrino systems.

March 12, 2003 by in Laptops

Acer TravelMate 800

Acer TravelMate 800

Intel's new integrated mobile solution, which is called Centrino, comprises the Pentium M processor (formerly codenamed Banias), the 855 chipset and Intel's PRO/Wireless 2100 Mini-PCI card (the latter providing built-in 802.11b connectivity). The Pentium M chip is a brand-new design aimed at optimising the mix of performance and battery life for mobile computing, while the Centrino brand covers the combination of Pentium M, 855 chipset and Intel's wireless networking solution.

March 12, 2003 by in Laptops

OneNote 2003 Beta 2

OneNote 2003 Beta 2

Remember those personal organisers that were all the rage before Palms and Pocket PCs took over -- the leather-bound affairs in which you could write with a real pen, organise your notes into sections separated with dividers and move pages between sections? Microsoft's new OneNote application does a similar job for the PC, although it sticks to being a notebook and doesn't try to compete with Outlook's calendars and task schedulers. OneNote, which will form part of the Office 2003 family, provides a single place for creating and organising all your notes, lists, doodles, sketches and diagrams -- the sort of material that's always difficult to find and organise.

March 10, 2003 by in Developer

Office Professional 2003 Beta 2

Office Professional 2003 Beta 2

Perhaps to assuage the clamouring public, or to work out some development kinks, Microsoft has released a public beta of its popular office suite. Our initial assessment? As in Office XP, the suite's most prominent changes target the professional market. True, Microsoft has enhanced some of Office 2003's applications, adding small improvements such as Outlook's better email handling and spam filtering. But most of Office 2003’s enhancements benefit large-scale setups. Corporate intranets will get a lot out of the suite's new XML integration, which facilitates moving information from one program to another, and its beefed-up collaboration features. Corporate buyers may want to give this beta a run. But, if nothing much changes with the final release, consumers won't find much reason to upgrade.

March 10, 2003 by in Developer

Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Broadband Router

Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Broadband Router

Wireless-G, the draft version of the forthcoming 802.11g standard, looks great on paper. Low-cost, high-speed 54Mbps throughput and backward compatibility with 802.11b make you wonder why you'd ever pay for a pricey 802.11a device. Unfortunately, the Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G router doesn't quite live up to expectations. Although real-world wireless performance hovers around 50 percent of almost all wireless-device manufacturers' claims, the WRT54G delivers even less than that. Also disappointing is its operating range, which is considerably shorter than that of an 802.11b router. Worst of all, connect the Linksys WRT54G to both Wireless-G and 802.11b network adapters simultaneously, and its speed bumps down closer to 802.11b levels. Linksys claims this last problem has been fixed by a firmware revision, but when we tested the new firmware, we noticed only moderate improvement. With more firmware updates likely in the future, we recommend that you skip 802.11g for now.

March 6, 2003 by in Reviews

Xerox Phaser 4400N

Xerox Phaser 4400N

As monochrome laser printers go, the 1,200dpi Xerox Phaser 4400 is a heavy-duty, networkable printing machine. It churns out professional-quality text and graphics at lightning speeds, and it requires little or no knowledge to use -- its high-capacity toner cartridge is particularly easy to replace. Also, ample drivers and clear documentation allow companies, with or without IT support, to set up and operate this printer across a multitude of PC and network platforms. This printer can handle large, busy corporate environments, yet it doesn't take a network administrator to master its simple menu-driven user controls. This simplicity makes it ideal for small, networked businesses -- as long as they can swing the expense.

March 5, 2003 by in Printers

FreeHand MX

FreeHand MX

FreeHand 10.0 didn't impress us, but things are looking up for this professional illustration application now that the latest version, called MX, is here. FreeHand MX includes a range of impressive new tools, and its capabilities range from enhanced traditional functions to cutting-edge Web features. FreeHand is equally at home with print, PDF and Flash output. However, we had to deduct points for an interface that remains awkward and is far less intuitive than that of CorelDraw 11. Adobe users should stick with Illustrator, and CorelDraw remains our overall top pick. But designers who need Macromedia MX integration will love FreeHand MX.

March 4, 2003 by in Developer

Panasonic Toughbook CF-R1

Panasonic Toughbook CF-R1

We should say at the outset that the Toughbook CF-R1 bears virtually no resemblance to the original Panasonic Toughbook. That was a ruggedised brute built to withstand real abuse in the field, including wetting and severe shock, and it looked the part. The armoured exterior also made the first Toughbook a hefty beast: drop it on your foot and you, not the notebook, would be needing repairs. This was fine. The Toughbook was an industrial tool engineered to withstand hostile environments, not for messing about in the office. People who actually needed one were unlikely to worry if it was big and rather ugly.

March 4, 2003 by in Laptops

Mitac Mio 338

Mitac Mio 338

The battle of the low-cost Pocket PCs has taken a significant step forward with the arrival of the Mitac Mio 338. The price is low, the device is compact, and the product is being sold and marketed by established PC makers such as Evesham and AJP. Could this be the watershed moment when the Pocket PC becomes a serious proposition for budget buyers who would hitherto only consider a low-cost Palm OS device?

March 3, 2003 by in Mobility

Dell Inspiron 5100

Dell Inspiron 5100

Dell's first model in its revamped consumer notebook range, the mainstream Inspiron 5100, is different both inside and out. Gone is the buttoned-down grey case, to be replaced by a two-tone 'Venice blue and moonlight silver' design -- no, we're not making this up. Things are different under the lid as well, with a new keyboard and touchpad configuration. Inside, you'll find cutting-edge, dual-band wireless antennae, a fast Pentium 4 processor, and an enormous battery. These specifications made for excellent performance and reasonable battery life in our performance tests. Must cost a pretty penny, right? Wrong. The Inspiron 5100 range starts at £801 (ex. VAT). For the home user, the Inspiron 5100 is faster, longer lasting, and lower priced (in some configurations) than other mainstream notebooks, making it an Editors' Choices in this category.

March 3, 2003 by in Laptops

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