Op/Tech straps provide relief when lugging laptop cases...

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August 30, 1999|By Andrew Sasaki

Op/Tech straps provide relief when lugging laptop cases, more

You might not need a new laptop bag, just a new strap for it. Op/Tech's straps (about $17, depending on model) are different from others because they're made of neoprene, the same material found in diving suits.

The neoprene gives a bit as you walk, easing the countless jolts your neck and shoulders normally receive while carrying a heavy load. It also distributes the weight of your luggage more evenly. The company claims that its straps make loads feel 50 percent lighter, which might not be far from the truth.

Op/Tech makes straps for everything from cameras and guitars to laptops and luggage. The larger straps have loops of nylon or leather attached for reinforcement, so they're a lot stronger than you'd expect from a simple neoprene strap. The straps, depending on model, have different types of secure fasteners on the ends to keep your cargo from coming loose.

You have to love a product that literally eases your burdens. Op/Tech straps don't rely on amazing technology or cutting-edge innovation. They're just well-designed, why-didn't-anyone-think-of-this-before accessories you can't live without once you've tried them.

Information: 888-678-3244 or www.optechusa.com.

Microtek USB scanner is simple but effective

Sometimes, you just want a product that does its job, one without a lot of bells and whistles. Such is the satisfaction found in Microtek's SlimScan C6 USB scanner ($109).

The SlimScan C6 is a letter-size scanner with 600 x 1200 dots-per-inch resolution and 36-bit color depth. These numbers are a bit misleading: 600 x 1200 dpi resolution is only marginally better than 600 x 600 dpi because you can't have pixels twice as large in one dimension as the other, so your computer will estimate the missing resolution from the 600 dpi difference. The SlimScan C6 is less than 2 inches high. Nitpickers will point out that it's really short, not slim, but since I like the diminutive size, I'll give that one to the marketing geniuses.

The inside of the scanner's lid is black, an often overlooked feature. With black, if you scan newsprint or a two-sided original, the scanner won't pick up reflections from the opposite side of the page, as is common with a white scanner lid.

Like most scanners in this price range, the SlimScan C6 comes with bundled software to handle simple optical character recognition and image-editing tasks. There's software for both Macs and PCs that's easy to use and adequate for a majority of users.

The SlimScan connects to your computer via a USB port. This makes it easy to install and easy to disconnect, even while the computer's on.

Microtek's SlimScan C6 USB is cheap, svelte and a dutiful performer. It does what you bought it for and does it well. What a refreshing change.

Information: 800-654-4160 or www.microtek.com.

For full reviews of these and other gadgets, visit www.streettech. com.

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