Small is beautiful, No. 1: Tiny printer travels with...

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June 22, 1998|By Gareth Branwyn

Small is beautiful, No. 1: Tiny printer travels with notebook

They call it a pocket printer. OK, so it might be rather large to actually carry in your pocket, but the Casio PN60i ($499) is shockingly small, lightweight and portable. Measuring 10 inches by 1.85 inches by 2 inches, and barely registering on the scale at a hair over a pound, the PN60i is a worthy companion to a PDA, palmtop or notebook PC. It's amazing how far miniaturization has come.

With 360 dots per inch output, the PN60i uses regular paper and can also print transparencies. It comes with a black cartridge as standard equipment, but color ribbons are available. An optional NiCad rechargeable battery and an auto adapter can give you power away from the grid.

Perhaps the coolest thing about the PN60i, besides its tiny size, JTC is that it has an infrared receiver that can communicate with similarly-equipped desktop and palmtop computers. The crummiest thing about the unit is that it does not come with a cable to connect to your PC. You have to buy a connectivity kit (read: cable), either parallel, serial, or Mac/Newton. These "kits" run around $40. For road warrior types who need to generate letters, invoices, price and expense sheets, etc.,on the run, the PN60i is almost an unconscious carry in your travel bag.

Information: 310-453-0614 or www.citizen-america.com.

Small is beautiful, No. 2: Casio's handheld PC

The Cassiopeia A-20 ($600) is a handheld PC that runs Windows CE 2.0 (or "Wince" to its detractors). It has an 80 MHz microprocessor, 8 megs of RAM, a decent-size (6-3/16-inch by 2-7/16-inch) touch screen, a somewhat disappointing four shades of gray (similar units from other makers have 16 shades of gray or even color screens), a back light, a built-in microphone, a jack for a Casio digital camera, and a "Chiclet-style" keyboard.

The A-20 sports a sharp-looking, gray and black angular design and a screen size that's surprisingly adequate for working with documents. The screen (without the backlighting) is a little too dark under anything but the most ideal lighting conditions. With the back light on, things improve, but you wouldn't want to use the backlighting without AC power (unless you want to feed the little beast with an endless supply of AA batteries).

Windows CE looks and feels just like Win95 (Start button, Task Bar, etc.) so you can switch easily between desktop and palmtop. Pocket versions of Word, Exel, Outlook, and Internet Explorer work basically like their desktop counterparts.

The A-20 also comes with a disk that contains more than 30 demos and "light" editions of useful CE software for communications, audio, graphics, and business.

The only big drawback to the A-20 is the keyboard. Its rectangular, calculator-like keys are small and hard to use. You probably wouldn't want to do a lot of word processing on it, but then, you wouldn't want to do word processing on any handheld.

Information: 888-204-7765 or surf to www.casiohpc.com.

You can find full reviews of these and other neat gadgets at www.streettech.com.

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