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The Day of the Portable Office Has Now Come

March 29, 2001|JEFF LEVY |

Notebook computers have grown in both power and popularity. Now if you could just take your scanner, printer and Internet connection along with you, your office could be completely mobile.

Mobile Internet is available through Ricochet, which allows a wireless connection from almost anywhere in Los Angeles. The modem sells for about $300, and the monthly service fee runs about $75 for unlimited usage. The monthly service fee probably will come down in time.

To add scanning to the mix, the TravelScan Pro is a 100s sheet-fed color scanner that connects through a Universal Serial Bus port. It requires no external power. The whole unit is about the size of a very small, compact umbrella. It easily handles various grades of paper, and the scanned images are great for such a small unit.

Bundled software lets you scan text, graphics, photographs and the like. You can then use the scanned images to fax or attach to e-mails you send from your notebook computer. The TravelScan Pro is available for about $99 from OliVision.

The final component is a portable color printer. Hewlett-Packard has two portable color printers. The Desk Jet '00 weighs a little more than 4 pounds, includes a portable sheet feeder and sells for about $269. The '00 connects through a parallel or USB port on a notebook PC. The 350C BI, which sells for about $299, adds infrared connectivity and is battery powered. Expect between 110 and 130 pages per battery charge.

Canon makes three portable versions of its Bubble Jet series--the BJC 50, 55 and 85. These printers range in price from $299 to $349. The $299 BJC-85 weighs about 3 pounds and requires external power. It can connect through a printer port, a USB connection or an infrared interface.

The BJC-50 and BJC-55 printers operate on batteries and can yield 80-100 pages per charge. The BJC-50 sells for $349 and connects through a parallel printer port, USB or infrared connection. The BJC-55 printer also sells for $349, and it connects through USB or infrared ports.


Jeff Levy hosts the "On Computers" radio talk show from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on KFI-AM (640).

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