Today's Best Tech Deals
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2.5 mice; Copernican Technologies, 831/429-1775, www.copernican-tech.com; $90
Limited import capabilities and a difficult learning curve made Copernican Technologies' Boswell 1.0 (Reviews, July 2001) feel like a work-in-progress. Alas, despite laudable improvements--including rewritten documentation--Boswell 2.0 has further to go before it can become the "personal librarian" it claims to be.
Based on the premise that you should keep every noteworthy text clipping forever, Boswell stores blocks of text as large as 32K in a temporary holding area called the Journal before transferring them to its permanent Archive. The program's cataloging and search features are as powerful as ever, but Boswell's odd terminology and nonstandard interface make them tough to master.
In addition, the program still falls short when it comes to importing text from existing documents. For example, it processes only the text files at a folder's top level, ignoring any documents in subfolders. If you want to preserve text formatting, you have to copy the contents of each file into Boswell's Journal--a laborious task.
Boswell runs in either OS 9 or Classic. Copernican is working on an OS Xnative version and promises free upgrades to current users. We're hoping for Boswell's sake that the third time's a charm.--Franklin N. Tessler
4.0 mice; Apple Computer, 800/692-7753, www.apple.com; $399
The 5GB iPod (Reviews, January 2002) was a masterful synergy of design and interface that showcased what Apple does best. The company has since released a second model, priced at $499, with twice the original storage.
Apple has added two welcome features: a sound equalizer with 20 presets for different types of music improves the already high overall sound quality of the iPod and integrates well with iTunes, letting you tailor the equalization parameters on a songby-song basis. And the ability to store and display contact information on your iPod lets you drag contacts from Apple's Address Book, Microsoft Entourage, or Palm Desktop to a folder on your iPod, where they are quickly accessible from the iPod's new Contacts menu.
You can get MP3 players with more storage for less money (and players with FireWire support will be available later this year), but the iPod remains the best compact music player available for any platform. Its compact size, elegant interface, and FireWire support make it a dream to use.--Rick LePage
3.5 mice; Apple Computer, 800/692-7753, www.apple.com; free
The first version of Apple's iPhoto (see our review, in "Become an iExpert," April 2002) had numerous feature omissions that limited its usefulness; iPhoto 1.1.1 addresses some (but not all) of those limitations and adds a few nice touches.
Images in iPhoto 1.0's slide shows were blurry, but in this update they're crystal-clear. Importing images from Kodak Picture CDs is now supported, and images dragged in from the Finder are no longer collected in one of iPhoto's "film rolls"; instead, each folder of images is assigned its own roll, which you can rename and redate. An image's brightness and contrast are now adjustable; however, the program still offers no color-correction features.
New features in this version include the ability to e-mail images with just one click, set desktop pictures and screen savers from within iPhoto, and view extended image data such as shutter speed and the exact time a picture was taken. iPhoto lets you edit an image's date (convenient for scanned-in images) and choose to use image information as an image's iPhoto title. And a new Comments pane allows you to go beyond the program's user-definable 14 keywords by typing full-text image descriptions that can be used as search terms later on.--Jason Snell
HDD PORTABLE HARD DRIVE
3.0 mice; Iomega, 858/795-7000, www.iomega.com; $280
Iomega's entry into the portable hard-drive market, the HDD Portable Hard Drive, faces stiff competition from similar 20GB and 30GB drives from companies such as LaCie, EZQuest, and SmartDisk (Reviews, January 2002). The HDD Portable is a 34-inch-thin, rectangular drive (measuring about 8 by 4 inches). It's lightweight, at about 8 ounces, but feels flimsily constructed.
The 30GB FireWire-only configuration worked as expected: its data-transfer rates were up to par, and it mounted easily in both OS 9 and OS X. (It's also available with USB compatibility in 20GB and 30GB capacities.)
Though you must choose between USB and FireWire when purchasing Iomega's drive, many competing products include ports for both right on the hard drive and don't require the HDD Portable's strange, additional module. For USB and FireWire compatibility with the HDD Portable, you'll have to pay about $50 for the extra USB module (which Iomega says will be available in July). So you'll get the extensibility you want, but at a higher price and with more pieces that can be easily lost. -- Jennifer Berger