Pings & Packets from eWEEK Labs 31

LaCie beefs up mobile hardware security ... Microsoft kit has limited resources ... Trendnet device sports Wi-Fi finder.

LaCie Beefs Up Mobile Hardware Security

LaCies Safe Mobile Hard Drive, which shipped last month, blends sleek data portability with biometric protection.

The diminutive, 8.11-ounce Safe Mobile Hard Drive can hold as much as 80GB of data, and it doesnt need external power to function, giving users one less AC adapter to drag around on trips. The 80GB drive is priced at $200. A $150 40GB version is also available.

Using two USB 2.0 connections (one for power, the other for data transfer), the drive is ideal for road warriors—provided their laptops have two USB ports.

The built-in fingerprint scanner ensures that even if the drive is stolen, data cannot be easily accessed. During the installation, the drive asked me to scan two of my fingers to set up security access (each device can store profiles for as many as five users). Without positive fingerprint scans, the drive cannot be accessed.

More information is available at www.lacie.com.

--Henry Baltazar

Microsoft Kit Has Limited Resources

The Microsoft Office Visio 2003 Resource Kit, a bundle of third-party add-ons for Visio 2003, might look tempting for small shops, but its more of a sampler than a fully functional resource kit.

Released last month, the Microsoft Office Visio 2003 Resource Kit includes a working copy of Neon Softwares LANsurveyor for Visio, along with crippled versions of Altima Technologies NetZoom Stencils for Visio and a 60-day subscription to Visual Network Designs Rackwise 2.0. The tool bundle is available from Microsoft.

I put this array of products to use at eWEEK Labs to discover, map and plan my test network in just a few minutes . The resource kit includes 20,000 of the 80,000 stencils available from the NetZoom library, which turned out to be more than enough to correctly document the Labs network. I used the Rackwise subscription to redesign the layout for my equipment racks.

It was a little disappointing to get the $199 kit only to discover that two of the three products touted on the front of the package were limited implementations of the products. And, just to be clear, the resource kit does not include Visio 2003. So, while I liked the neat integration among the three products and Visio 2003, it was hard to get over the feeling that customers will pay nearly $200 for a test ride.

For those who already have Visio 2003 and are looking for an easy way to get a quick network diagram, the resource kit isnt a bad package. In fact, Ill likely use it to get quick maps of my test networks into Visio.

Go to www.microsoft.com/visio for more information.

--Cameron Sturdevant

Trendnet Device Sports Wi-Fi Finder

USB wireless adapters are getting to be a dime a dozen, so it takes some pretty cool features to catch my eye. With its clunkily named Trendnet TEW-429UB, Trendware International has done just that by adding an interactive Wi-Fi finder to the USB stick.

Unlike the plethora of cheap Wi-Fi finders that simply flash an LED faster when a strong network signal is in range, the $80 TEW-429UB, which started shipping last month, sports a small LCD panel that displays information about all available nearby Wi-Fi networks.

Scrolling through the list of available networks, the panel displays network names, signal strength and whether the network is encrypted with WPA or WEP—meaning I dont need to boot up my computer to see if I can attach to the network.

To power the Wi-Fi finder, the TEW-429UB includes a rechargeable battery—which is easily charged by connecting the device to a computers USB port.

Otherwise, the TEW-429UB offers all the basic features I expect from a wireless client: 802.11b/g compatibility and WPA and WPA2 security support.

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

--Andrew Garcia