Brett Burney is the Legal Technology Support Coordinator at Thompson Hine in Cleveland, Ohio. He regularly reviews products for Law.com’s Automated Lawyer and Law Office Computing Magazine. Feel free to e-mail Brett with your legal technology questions .
One of the most distressing tasks in packing for a business trip is making sure you have all the cords and cables that you need to take with you. The power cord for your laptop usually isn’t a problem, but don’t forget your cell phone charging cord, your PDA charging cord, a phone cord for your modem, a network cable for high-speed connections, and any USB cables you might need for connecting your various devices like your PDA or MP3 player. Since many of these cables are proprietary, you’re up a creek without a paddle if you forget one of them. And if you are like me, you probably have your charging cords stationed in one or several places in your house or office. I don’t like to unplug them all when I need them for a trip. Plus, I hate having to wrestle with a mess of wires that always seem to come alive when they’re zipped up in my suitcase and tangle together as much as possible.
As you can imagine, I was thrilled to find products that took some of the pressure off packing all those cords and cables. The Keyspan company provides connections for your computer and they are an official supplier of ZIP-LINQ products. Each ZIP-LINQ product has a spool about the size of a quarter which can be wrapped with an incredible number of different cords and cables.
|For example, you can purchase a ZIP-LINQ phone cord or Cat5 Ethernet cable. Each is about 4 inches long, until you pull on both ends and extend the cord up to 2 feet. To retract and spool the cord back, you simply pull the ends again and it zips back to the convenient 4 inch size.
But the ZIP-LINQ products don’t stop at being incredibly convenient. Keyspan also provides USB and FireWire cables for all your needs, all using the ZIP-LINQ technology.
The best products by far, however, have to be the USB cell phone charging cables. These cables plug into a USB port on your laptop, and charge up your cell phone with power from the computer. Imagine never having to take your cell phone charging cord with you on a trip again! Plus, while you are working on your laptop in an airport or hotel, you can be charging your cell phone at the same time. Its an amazing freedom.
|You will need to find the compatible Keyspan/ZIP-LINQ charging cable for your phone so be sure to check this page. Keyspan has most phone models covered including Ericsson, Kyocera, LG Mobile, Motorola, Den, Nokia, Samsung, Sanyo, and Siemens. You can even get a charging cable for your iPaq or Palm PDA.
On top of all of that, the Keyspan/ZIP-LINQ products work on both Windows and Macintosh machines since USB is universal. If you’re looking for a great way to streamline your travel preparations with less wires and less fuss, the Keyspan/ZIP-LINQ retractable cables are fantastic and very affordable.
|Good, affordable printing can be hard to find, especially when you just need a quality printer for your desk as opposed to a full-fledged networkable laser printing station. And you want a unit that can handle color as well as black & white since these days you just never know when you’ll need to print out a color Web page or annotated exhibit with yellow highlights. A good choice is the HP DeskJet 5150.
When it comes to printers, you’re just not going to go wrong with an HP. The Deskjet 5150 is a color inkjet printer that can print up to 1200 dpi resolution in black and up to 4800-optimized dpi in color. Your black & white printouts can hit speeds of up to 19 pages per minute in draft mode and 5 pages per minute in normal mode. In addition to letter and legal size paper, it can also print on glossy/photo paper, envelopes, and transparencies. The unit is a fairly good size, but fits comfortably on a desktop. The paper feeder and output tray stick out from the front by only a few inches.
Setup and installation was a breeze with the Deskjet 5150. The large setup poster that HP included in the box was very helpful. You just follow the steps and pictures and the process goes smoothly. One thing that is a little unfortunate is HP did not include a USB cable in the box for connecting the printer to your PC (the 5150 has no parallel port, but the Deskjet 5650 model does). To be fair, making the consumer purchase an extra cable is an industry standard with most printers today, but it would have been a nice touch if HP had included one. USB cables are plentiful at most electronic stores, just be sure to pick one up or you’ll be staring at a nice big paperweight.
Once I plugged the 5150 in, it was recognized immediately and the software began to install itself. I wish HP would have let me customize my software installations a little because by default, everything was installed including 1) the printer drivers, 2) a print screen utility, 3) the Photo & Imaging Director, and 4) the Memories Disc software (which allows you to create photo-CDs). I ended up liking all of this software; I just wish I had a choice in case I didn’t want to install certain pieces.
The first test page I printed looked amazing. I was extremely impressed with the quality from the 5150. It was a color picture and it looked like a photo. My black & white printouts of documents looked perfect the text was exact and looked close to laser-quality. I’ve heard a bunch of great things about the print quality out of the Deskjet 5150 and I was definitely not disappointed.
If you are looking for a fantastic all-around desktop printer, the 5150 is an excellent choice. It has a print-cancel button on the unit and even comes with an optional duplexing unit which allows you to print on both sides of a piece of paper without having to manually turn it over. Unfortunately, you’ll have to deal with a wall-wort style power adapter that will take up at least two plugs on your power strip. But overlook the tiny little annoyances, and you have yourself a wonderful desktop printer with the HP Deskjet 5150 for only $99 – and that’s the absolute best part!