Now Hear This...

Tech stuff you can't live without.
Magazine Contributor
5 min read

This story appears in the January 1999 issue of Subscribe »

As a former Intel employee, Bob Peake is used to having some of the finest computer and communications equipment around. So when he started a teleconferencing consulting company, Peak Solutions, from his Folsom, California, home in 1995, he made sure to furnish it with high-quality equipment. A key component of his current repertoire: the new SoundPoint Pro desktop audioconferencing phone from Polycom.

"Communication is a very important aspect of any business," Peake says. "Whether face-to-face or over the phone, if you can't be easily understood, it can cause problems. The need for high-quality [voice] communications in my business is paramount."

Unlike many systems, SoundPoint Pro combines audioconferencing and traditional phone capabilities in one sleek unit. SoundPoint Pro delivers full-duplex audioconferencing with up to three additional remote sites, doing away with the need for outside bridging services. A microphone on its front end eliminates any worries about participants hearing background noises, and a 360-degree conference mode can be established with just the touch of a button. Other features include 20 programmable speed dials, a 99-number caller history, integrated caller ID, as well as caller ID for call waiting (caller ID service required).

Since many of Peake's clients are Fortune 100 companies, generating a professional image is important. SoundPoint Pro provides him with worry-free communications. "It's really made it easier for me to do business on a daily basis," Peake says.

The two-line version costs $249 while the three-line version is $299. For more information, visit


There's no denying scanners have become an essential tool for homebased businesses. Yet the majority are still made with graphic artists, Web designers or general consumers in mind. One exception to the rule: Epson America's Perfection 636 color flatbed scanner ($299).

At 600 x 2,400 dpi, the Perfection 636 delivers the high-quality output necessary for creating visual media for your business. Compatible with both Macintosh and Windows 95/98 PCs, the Perfection 636 delivers true 36-bit color and 12-bit grayscale scanning.

Much to the liking of homebased businesses, the Perfection 636 boasts advanced technologies that make scanning accurate and easy. There's software included for quick one-button scanning. Improved OCR accuracy extracts text from color backgrounds and scans documents that contain a combination of text, graphics and photos. Epson's Scanner Basics Guide provides directions for setup, as well as recommended resolution and settings for a variety of output options.

The Perfection 636 has extra processing power built in to the hardware. Adaptec's PCI SCSI interface card ensures fast scans and is easy to set up because Windows 95 and 98 automatically detect it.

The software bundled with the Perfection 636 keeps entrepreneurs' needs in mind, too. It includes useful programs such as Adobe's PhotoDeluxe, Presto! PageManager, Xerox Textbridge Classic and Broderbund's The PrintShop PressWriter.

For more information, visit

Pump Up The Volume

Admittedly, Xerox's WorkCentre XD100 digital copier/printer isn't for the home office with average printing and copying requirements. For those with high-volume needs, however, the XD100 ($749) is a veritable printing and copying champion you can rely on to get the job done.

The XD100 boasts 600 x 600 dpi image resolution and prints at an impressive 8 pages per minute (ppm). And it has advanced copying features, including zoom capabilities from 50 to 200 percent.

Because it's a digital machine, the XD100 delivers enhanced image quality. You'll notice very high output on documents that are typically difficult to produce, such as those that contain photographs, halftones and colored backgrounds.

The XD100 comes with a three-year warranty that features on-site service, mail-in service, overnight exchange and self-service kits. Online and phone support come with the XD100's basic warranty.

Visit for more information.

A Matter Of Fax

If you're still unfamiliar with Internet faxing, here are a few reasons to look into it: Internet faxing reduces your transmission costs and fax hardware expenses, offers the convenience of faxing from your desktop, and lets you access your faxes from anywhere, at anytime.

If we've got your attention, then consider NetCentric's FaxStorm. Available through both local and national ISPs, FaxStorm lets you send faxes over the Internet from either an existing fax machine or your desktop PC. When sending a fax, the document is first encrypted, then sent to a FaxStorm server and routed to a destination fax machine or another computer as an e-mail attachment. To receive faxes, a private fax mailbox electronically captures your incoming faxes for downloading later.

Users can also take advantage of FaxStorm's advanced broadcast faxing capabilities to send faxes to as many as 2,000 recipients.

Although pricing differs, monthly access fees are typically about $4.95. To get started, you'll also pay a one-time setup fee of around $15; price-per-minute charges range from 10 to 19 cents.

For more information, visit or call NetCentric toll-free at (888) 767-9273 for help finding a local or national provider.

Creative Sparq

Don't look now, but there's a new addition to SyQuest Technology's line of SparQ portable hard drives: the USB SparQ 1.0GB removable cartridge drive ($249). Designed for use with computers that support the new Universal Serial Bus (USB) interface, the SparQ drive is another solid data backup option.

Like others in the line, the USB SparQ drive boasts a portable design, perfect for taking it on the road or fitting it easily on cramped home office desks. The drive is also lightweight: a mere 24 ounces.

Not that it isn't a hefty solution. The USB SparQ removable cartridge drive boasts data transfer speeds of up to 6 Mbps. And its 1.0GB cartridge capacity offers plenty of room. Cartridges cost $49 each or $89 for a two-pack. Advanced cartridge hard-drive utilities and PC and Macintosh backup utility software are included.

For more information on the SparQ drives, visit

Contact Sources

Peak Solutions, (916) 985-2269,

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