Pings & Packets from eWEEK Labs - 10

Writely application's time has come ... enKoo simplifies small meetings ... Skype phone can't always connect.

Writely Applications Time Has Come

With improvements in Web standards and expanding browser options, its a good time to revisit the Web-based word processor.

Taking advantage of these improvements is Upstartles Writely, now in beta. A browser-based word processor, Writely follows the 5 percent rule of word processing—namely, that most people use only 5 percent of their word processor capabilities.

In my tests, Writely worked well for creating standard Word documents and offers very handy features for collaborating with other users on a document. One of Writelys main attractions is its ability to access documents from virtually anywhere with its broad browser and platform support—Writely runs on current versions of Internet Explorer, Mozilla and Firefox on both Windows and Mac OS X. While Writely isnt supported on Linux, I was able to get it to run on Firefox on Linux.

The Writely beta has experimental features for use as a content-creation tool for blogs, working with several blogging platforms. It also has standard features such as a spell-checker and a revision mode, and documents can be saved as Word files.

The Writely Web site states that when the product leaves beta status (no indication as to when), beta users should expect a free basic service with charges for more advanced features.

To check out the beta, go to www.writely.com.

--Jim Rapoza

enKoo Simplifies Small Meetings

Network appliance vendor enKoos latest offerings deliver low-cost Web conferences without the recurring costs of a service.

Pricing starts at $1,495 for the enKoo-WM-1000, which allows five concurrent sessions with each session hosting as many as five attendees. I tested the $2,095 WM-2000, which can be configured to host more concurrent sessions. Both appliances shipped in September. enKoo presenters and attendees must have Java installed on their PCs to participate in a meeting.

I found it easy to schedule and start conferences. However, once a meeting starts, the only meeting-in-progress indicator is a green icon in the task bar. Id like another clue.

Setting up the enKoo server was simply a matter of configuring an external address. The appliance supports Active Directory to simplify user management.

For more information, go to www.enkoo.com.

--Michael Caton

Skype Phone Cant Always Connect

Skype users looking to untether from the PC should look at Linksys CIT200, or Cordless Internet Telephony Kit (aka Skype Phone). But depending on environmental conditions, they may be disappointed with the call quality.

The CIT200 box proclaims "Free is Good," which is pretty funny considering the device costs $130. The CIT200, which started shipping in October, includes a voucher for an hour of free SkypeOut minutes and a one-month voice mail subscription.

The CIT200 connects to Skype-enabled PCs by way of a USB-based radio receiver. Essentially, the CIT200 acts as a wireless headset and microphone for the PC.

Wi-Fi devices and the CIT200 dont interfere with each other because the latter uses spectrum between 1920MHz and 1930MHz. Nevertheless, the CIT200 performed terribly in my office and the lab due to other interference problems. Voices were almost unintelligible if I wasnt standing within 15 feet of the base station.

In my home, on the other hand, the signal was clear and voices were understandable throughout almost the entire house.

The CIT200 handset is comfortable and easy to navigate, featuring a small color LCD screen. But the keypad is uselessly backlit—although it looks cool, it doesnt help read anything in the dark.

The CIT200 offers a confusing array of contact lists. I could create a local private list, share a contact list with other users of the phone or simply rely on the call contacts synced from Skype.

The installation disk provides drivers and software for Windows 2000 and XP.

For more, dial up www.linksys.com.

--Andrew Garcia