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Tech Buzz 08/04

DVD burning, digital password storage and more

Feel the Burn

DVD-burner technology is growing up and working itself into the mainstream of business hardware. Early buyers of DVD recorders had to carefully consider which competing standard to choose. That's no longer an issue with the latest crop of drives that are turning the standards war into a standards truce. They burn DVD-R/RW as well as DVD+R/RW and CDs. No more puzzling over different DVD media. Multiformat drives cost a bit more than single-format drives, but the flexibility can be worth it.

In terms of storage space, double-layer (DL) DVD technology is the latest and greatest. Sony was first out of the blocks with drives that can burn up to 8.5GB on a single disk using the DVD+R standard. That's almost double the capacity of regular DVD disks. At $199 for the internal model (DRU-700A) or $299 for the external model (DRX-700UL), they're not cheap. But their high capacity makes them more useful to businesses looking for a new data backup method. Expect a DVD-R version to be out soon.

One drawback for early adopters is the relatively slow write speeds: 2.4X for the Sony drives, for example. That won't discourage some buyers, but others might want to wait for the second round of this technology.

Say the Word

Those little USB "storage on a key chain" devices are handy and popular ways to move data around. Now they're getting even more specialized. A case in point is MetaPass' new digital key. This isn't about data storage, but passwords.

Anyone who's actually tried to follow the guidelines security experts suggest for creating and managing your passwords has had to change a jumble of hard-to-remember character strings on a regular basis. That's not so bad if your office computer is helping you remember them, but what if you're on the road?

For about $100, the MetaPass M500 Digital Key can be plugged into any USB-equipped computer and accessed with one master password. The high-grade encryption system automatically logs you in to everything from news Web sites to business systems. MetaPass Administrator software even lets you manage employees' keys. With security on everyone's minds, better password management is one way to sleep easier at night.


70%
of small businesses have an online presence or will have one before 2005.
SOURCE:Harris Interactive


33%
of businesses with 20 to 49 employees have a full-time IT professional.
SOURCE: Yahoo!/Grey Global Group

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This article was originally published in the August 2004 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Tech Buzz 08/04.

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