On the road, again

There’s a new method for the distribution of software that requires you to be mobile. What I mean is that you have to go to one of CompUSA’s stores to get the software from a kiosk.

Protocall Technologies is putting their SoftwareToGo kiosks in the CompUSA stores. When you select the program you want (Musicmatch, Peachtree Software, Roxio, Symantec and Ulead Systems) by means of a touch screen, the software writes the selection to disc right in the machine. Sort of like a candy or soda machine, right? About a dozen titles are being offered at this time, including Age of Empires II, Money 2004 Standard and Streets & Trips 2004. This may not be a bad idea after all. It should be virus free and no hassle. Unless of course, it’s like the photo printers in Wal-Mart and other stores. I guess they just don’t like me. Hopefully, this machine will be different.

Palm One has released the Zire 72 handheld. This latest Palm has a 1.2 Megapixel camera, a built-in MP3 player, Bluetooth, and a high resolution 320 x 320 color screen. It also does all of the standard PDA applications. With the included DataViz Documents To Go software you can create Excel and Word files. The Zire 72 sells for $299. Palm One can be contacted at www.palmone.com.

A company called Firefly (catchy, isn’t it) makes the Firefly Lighted Keyboard. You Road Warriors who take their notebooks into tunnels, caves and various other unlit areas should appreciate this item. I wouldn’t particularly call this keyboard mobile; it is a full-sized 104 key keyboard. However, it is backlit with a blue illuminated panel. The light can be switched on and off from the keyboard and there are twelve media keys to keep everyone happy. The Firefly keyboard is priced at $89.99. Firefly can be reached at www.fireflyus.com.

Just in case you have a potential Road Warrior (child) going to college this fall, Computer Shopper has their top-rated “student notebooks” in their July 2004 issue. They have rated: the ABS Mayhem G1 (www.abspc.com) with a 3 Gigahertz Intel Pentium 4 processor, 1 Gigabyte of DDR RAM, an 80 Gigabyte hard drive, a DVD+RW and a 15.4 inch TFT screen. The Mayhem G1 weighs 7.8 pounds and is priced at $1,938; the Apple PowerBook G4 (www.apple.com) with a 1 Gigahertz PowerPC G4 processor, 256MB of DDR RAM, a 40 Gigabyte hard drive, a DVD-R and a 12.1-inch TFT screen. The PowerBook weighs 4.6 pounds and costs $1,598; the Gateway 2000 XL (www.gateway.com) with a 1 Gigahertz Intel Pentium M processor, 512MB of DDR RAM, a 60 Gigabyte hard drive, a DVD-RW and a 14.1-inch TFT screen. The 2000 XL weighs 4.3 pounds and is priced at $2,254; the Sony Vaio PCG-V505 (www.sonystyle.com) has a 1.4 Gigahertz Intel Pentium 4 processor, 512MB of DDR RAM, a 60 Gigabyte hard drive and a 12.1-inch TFT screen. The V505 weighs 4.4 pounds and sells for $2,379; the Toshiba Satellite A45 (www.toshiba.com) with a 2.8 Gigahertz Intel Pentium 4 processor, 512MB of DDR RAM, a 60 Gigabyte hard drive, a DVD±RW and a 15-inch TFT screen. The A45 weighs 7.7 pounds and sells for $1,549. The Editors rated the ABS Mayhem the highest and the Toshiba the lowest. Check them out on their respective web sites.

Also in the July 2004 issue of Computer Shopper is a review by Justin Jaffe and Jasmine France of 13 Flash Drives. Included in the review are the Apacer Handy Steno HT202, the Crucial Gizmo, the Iomega Micro Mini USB 2.0 Drive, the Iomega Mini USB 2.0 Drive, the Kingston Datatraveler 2.0 Hi-Speed USB Memory, the Lexar Jumpdrive Secure 2.0, the Lexar Jumpdrive Sport, the Lexar Jumpdrive Traveler 2.0, the Meritline High Quality/high Speed USB 2.0 Pen Drive, the Meritline Mobile Pen Drive, the Meritline Musix 5 in 1 MP3 Player/Recorder USB Watch, the Meritline Rist Memory Watch and the Verbatim Store ‘N’ Go USB Drive. There’s a tie for first place between the Crucial Gizmo and the Lexar Jumpdrive Secure 2.0. There’s no dispute over last place; the Meritline Musix 5 in 1 MP3 Player/Recorder USB Watch gets this honor.

Chuck Horowitz, a HAL-PC member, can be reached at chuckh@hal-pc.org for questions or comments.