- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Anyone who is permanently settled in his opinions probably doesn’t use technology that much. Because, as we who have struggled with computers and their related gear know, there’s always something to make you think twice about most products.

Some second thoughts, then, after extended consideration of various items.

KODAK PRINTER STILL SHINES, BUT … I lauded the $299 Kodak EasyShare 5500 all-in-one printer a month ago and overall it’s a good machine. For example, I still like the way it scans documents for easy use by my computer. And the quick photo-printing feature utilizing a small drawer for 4-by-6-inch print paper is nice.

At the same time, printing regular documents turns out to be a bit slower than I’d expected, something that became evident over a longer period of use. Print quality is fine, but one’s patience can be strained.

Worse still, at least in an office, there seems to be a problem with the printer giving off a hum of some kind that my Lucent/Avaya phone can pick up. It’s annoying and it’s about to make me pack up the EasyShare, gritting my teeth about the lack of a scanner. Kodak needs to rethink the shielding it uses on its electronic components to keep the noise down.

LAPTOPS BEST FOR SCHOOL … At least that’s my thinking. Playing with both the Fujitsu T-2010 and Apple’s ultrasmart MacBook, each under $1,600 in decent configurations, I remain convinced that giving a notebook computer to a high school or college student is probably a very smart move. These notebooks are portable, of course, but they are also very powerful.

The Fujitsu T-2010 can take a small degree of punishment — the keyboard is said to be spill-resistant — and offers a digitized “tablet” screen for note taking. It includes Microsoft Windows Vista, which isn’t everyone’s favorite operating system, but which seems to be OK here. I just like the product, and I think a student would be able to make pretty good use of it, too.

Even more practical, in some ways, is Apple’s MacBook. There’s no “tablet” feature here, but the optical media drive is built in, which is a great help in many circumstances, such as loading software and burning photo CDs. The Mac OS is exceptional, and should be nicely augmented by Mac OS X Leopard in about a month’s time. (Unlike Vista, this upgrade should cause few tears for existing users.) The MacBook is a superportable and a very good value, thanks to recent processor upgrades and other boosts to its performance. It almost makes me want to go back to homeroom.

GETTING AN ILIFE … Further in the Mac realm, I’m still enamored of Apple’s ILife 08 software, particularly IPhoto. It’s one of the best ways to organize and manipulate digital snaps on a computer, and the folks in Windows land will have a ways to go to match it’s ease of use.

The best feature, for me, is that the software will separate each download into a separate “event,” by which you can then organize photos. The events can be named, tagged with keywords and easily searched. There may be something as good on the Windows side — a contender arrived last week — but I’ve not seen it yet. Meanwhile, I would submit that programs such as ILife are yet another reason to make the switch.

c Read Mark Kellner’s Tech Blog at www.washingtontimes.com/blogs.

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