Targus accessory adds voice recording to Visor's...

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January 08, 2001

Targus accessory adds voice recording to Visor's capabilities

I have scrambled for a scrap of paper to jot down an idea while driving hundreds of times. Or forgotten to bring a pen for notes during a meeting. Or wished that I could just listen instead of writing furiously.

Voice recorders, of course, can be the answer to such predicaments, and Handspring Visor owners are in luck. Targus has just shipped the Total Recall Digital Voice Recorder, a 1.2-ounce module that pops into the personal digital assistants.

The $99 Total Recall can hold up to 1 1/2 hours of recordings, depending on the audio-quality setting. By using the Visor's on-screen menu, recordings can be arranged by date, priority, when they were finished or when projects are due. Each can be filed by category, too, such as business or personal. Operation is as easy as tapping the PDA's screen with a stylus. Files can be uploaded to a computer, where they can be played, edited and attached to e-mail.

The recorder works independently, too. By slipping it into a battery pack that contains a micro-phone and earphone jacks, the Total Recall can play, record, fast-forward or rewind files without the Visor. I found this method useful in a vehicle, though the device isn't as functional on its own.

My only complaint, a minor one, is that the manual is vague in places; I stumbled while trying to perform a couple tasks before calling tech support, which was quite helpful.

Information: 800-242-3133 or www.targus.com. - Rick Barrick/KRT

Low-cost Canon scanner a film-friendly performer

I get lots of questions about how to get slide images into your computer. My flip answer is to simply drop them through the little air slots on top of the monitor, but my serious recommendation has been to buy one of the more expensive negative/transparency scanners available at photo shops. They cost $400 and up.

That's until I tried the Canon CanoScan D660U ($150), which has a film adapter. Early scanners that tried this setup tended to make your slides look like they were shot in the age of the dinosaurs - crisp images became grainy, fuzzy messes once transferred to your computer.

But Canon, using what it calls Variable Refraction Optical System technology, has figured out how to make a relatively inexpensive scanner create relatively good images. The procedure is painless, although a little slow: You place one 2-by-2 inch color slide or a strip of negative film in a mask that comes with the scanner, then hit a film scan button that uses a backlight in the lid to illuminate the image for scanning.

I scanned several slides of deer shot while on a picnic last fall in l,200-by-1,200 dots per inch resolution. The color reproduction and clarity of the pictures was the best I've seen by a desktop flatbed scanner under $400.

The D660U does other scanning work equally well, but at a reduced resolution of 600-by-1,200 dpi. While it's certainly slower than some desktop scanners in this price range, its 75-second scan of a 4-by-6-inch photograph wasn't intolerable.

Moreover, this 42-bit scanner can re-create up to 4 trillion colors. I haven't noticed much difference between photographs scanned by 36-bit and 42-bit devices, but it's nice to know the colors are available.

Information: 800-385-2155 or www.ccsi.canon.com/scanners/

- Kevin Washington

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