From the December 1998 issue of Startups

Do you ever wish your cordless phone had that "big office" feature that allowed you to transfer calls to different extensions? Well, Siemens Wireless Terminals' Cordless Communication System (CCS) has brought this big-company option to home offices through advanced handset-to-handset calling. This digital, multiuser cordless telephone supports up to eight cordless handsets, each with its own extension number, for routing calls to an employee or transferring callers to different voice-mail boxes.

CCS consists of a desk station with one cordless phone and charger ($399; $129 for each additional handset). The phone con-tains an integrated digital answering machine that stores up to 26 minutes of messages and supports up to five outgoing messages. Additional features include speakerphone capabilities, handset paging and a backlit LCD display for caller ID; all these features are accessible from either the desk station or a handset.

Like larger telephone systems, CCS also comes with the capability to ensure reliable, secure conversations. It boasts a 2.4 GHz frequency (most high-end models operate at 900 MHz) for better in-building coverage and less static interference. It also has built-in spread-spectrum technology to change the frequency at which the signal is transmitted, increasing security against eavesdroppers and scanners. For more information, visit www.siemens-wireless.com

Pairing Up

To provide consumers with the power to network their PCs, IBM is offering network capability in three new models of its home office computers. Now, when combined with an optional Ethernet networking card, the E2N, E3N and E5D models in IBM's popular Aptiva line can share printers and files with other PCs.

In addition to the new networking capabilities, these models come with fast communications features: They all boast 56K modems and quick Internet access via IBM's Rapid Access keyboard.

IBM's Aptiva E3N ($999) contains an AMD-K6-2 300 MHz processor, a 100 MHz bus, 64MB SDRAM, a 6GB hard drive, a 32X CD-ROM drive and 4MB video memory. All three models are available through retail outlets nationwide or through IBM Consumer Direct (800-426-7235 x4340). For more information, visit www.us.pc.ibm.com/aptiva

Sharp Eye

Digital cameras aren't just for photographers and graphic artists. Increasingly, these high-tech cameras are finding their way into the home office because of their versatility, high quality and ease of use. For example, if you need to visually communicate something--anything--to a client or employee, using a digital camera can be a quick, easy way to capture an image and send it via modem. Moreover, digital cameras are great if you create brochures, newsletters or Web pages yourself. A digital camera lets you download a photo image directly to your PC in minutes, as compared to the hours or even days it would take to shoot, develop and scan your photos.

One digital camera to consider: the all-new QV-770 from Casio. The QV-770 ($399) has a high-definition 350,000-pixel Charge Coupled Device (CCD) for fairly high-quality image output. It also has a new 122,100-pixel, 1.8-inch TFT LCD monitor so you can view clear, sharp images directly on the camera. That way, you know if the photos you've just taken are satisfactory.

Other features of the QV-770 include a panorama option for creating 360-degree panorama pictures; a minimovie feature for capturing motion and viewing it on the built-in screen, on your home page or on your TV (using the additional software included); and 4MB built-in flash memory for storing up to 120 images at a time.

One major downfall of the QV-770 is that it lacks zoom capabilities. So, if you need to get good close-ups or fine detail in a picture when shooting from far away, this camera may not be for you.

The QV-770 comes bundled with a variety of useful software, including QV-Link for your PC to communicate with the camera, Adobe PhotoDeluxe to edit images, Spin Photo to view all sides of an image, and PictureFun! image-correction software. For more information, visit www.casio.com/digitalimaging

Clean Machines

Dirt buildup in and on computer equipment is a major cause of equipment failure. Dust, grime and other contaminants can get inside computer components and contribute to crashes. Regularly cleaning your equipment with the proper supplies sharply reduces the chances of having unexpected equipment failures.

The Kensington Cleaning System from Kensington Technology Group is a comprehensive line of cleaning products designed to increase your equipment's longevity. The product line contains a variety of nifty products, including surface cleaners, air dusters, drive cleaners and machine maintenance supplies, to keep your equipment squeaky clean. There's a Dust Blaster ($8.95) to blast dust out of crevices and hard-to-reach spots like in between computer keys; cleaning wipes ($6.95 for 60 sheets) to help eliminate dust and static electricity on computer equipment and monitors--even laser printer cleaning sheets ($10.45 for 12 sheets) to sharpen your print quality by removing dust, dirt and extra toner from the paper path.

What's really neat is that, in addition to cleaning products, each package also comes with a photo of the product in use, easy-to-follow instructions and informational material explaining equipment failures and proper preventative maintenance. Visit ,www.kensington.com for more details.

Twice As Nice

Just when you thought your 56K modem was fast, there's a new modem that works at roughly twice the speed. Based on the V.90 modem standard, Diamond Multi-media Systems' SupraSonic II dual-line modem ($200) doubles speed by using two phone lines instead of one, allowing you to receive data at a rate of up to 112 Kbps.

Diamond's "Shotgun" technology bonds two phone lines together, increasing the bandwidth potential of a modem's transmission speed (two phone lines required). You can surf the Net at warp speed, and if the modem detects an incom-ing or outgoing call, it releases the second phone line without interrupting your Internet session.

The Shotgun software comes bundled with the new SupraExpress 56K V.90 modem, allowing compatibility with other manufacturer's modems for additional bandwidth over two analog phone lines. Exist-ing SupraExpress 56K cus-tomers can download a free Shotgun software upgrade at www.diamondmm.com/shotgun