Hot Picks for the Home Office
Bass, Steve, Newsweek
These are a few of our favorite things.
FAST, SHARP COLOR PRINTING
ISN'T IT TIME your business had a color printer? Color adds sizzle to your brochures, makes your correspondence snappier, and brings life to your business cards. Good news: Now you can get a photo-quality color printer without spending a bundle. The hottest new machine from Epson delivers razor-sharp resolution in both monochrome and color for less than $3oo. Epson's Mac/PC compatible Stylus Color 6oo prints at 1400 by 720 dots per inch (for comparison, my year-old HP LaserJet 5P prints at only 600 dpi). Photos look like, well, photos. Print speeds are just as impressive: 6 pages per minute in black and white, 4 ppm in color, and the paper tray holds 100 sheets. Want color? So what are you waiting for? Epson Stylus Color 600 $299 list; Epson America; 800/289-3776, 800/442-2xxo (fax-back); http://www.epson.com
TAKE A LETTER, ANY LETTER-PLEASE
HERE'S MY BUSINESS secret: I don't write my own letters anymore. With the Lifetime Encyclopedia of Letters, I get to choose from over 850 already written business letters. In a flash, I can search through a database of missives, pick one for, say, a personnel evaluation, or just pluck out the two or three sentences I need. Then I insert them directly into my word processor and no one's the wiser. The collection ranges from documents requesting favors ("Dear Neighbor, Can you please not use the lawn mower before 8 a.m.?") and making complaints ("Dear Neighbor, Stop mowing the lawn so early in the morning!") to letters of thanks, sympathy, apology-- even fund-raising letters. Lifetime Letters comes on a CD-ROM or floppy disks, and includes the Lifetime Encyclopedia of Letters in a hardbound edition (you know--on paper). lifetime Encyclopedia of Letters $39.95 list; StreetWise; 800/743-6765, 30/829-7827, 310/828-8258 (fax).
QUICK NET ACCESS, NO HEADACHES
POP QUIZ: What makes Web browsing fast and fun but is so complicated to install it'll give you a headache? That's right, a speedy ISDN phone line. (Integrated Services Digital Network is a technology that lets you access the Internet at more than four times the speed of a typical 28.8-kbps modem.) Getting ISDN installed means figuring out how to use a special modem and hassling with both the phone company and your Internet provider. (I know. I have ISDN and have experienced the grief,) But with EarthLink's new ISDN service; you can order an ISDN modem (known as a terminal), the phone line, and Internet service with one phone call. EarthLink contacts your local phone company to place the order, ships you the modem, and provides Net access, as well as tech support during installation of the phone line. EarthLink offers three terminal models at prices that comparable with those of discount stores. The price doesn't include your phone company's monthly and per-call surcharges for ISDN service. ISDN Internet Access $34-95 per month for 100 hours plus $25 activation; EarthLink; 800/395-8425, 818/296-2467, 818/296-4130 (fax); http://www.earthlink.net
SMALL OFFICE, BIG SOFTWARE
THE PROBLEM with software office suites is that you usually get saddled with extra products that you'll never use. Surprise, surprise--Microsoft has actually been listening and has designed a software suite specifically for the SOHO crowd. The Microsoft Office 97 Small Business Edition includes Word, Excel, Publisher, Outlook (its new information manager), Automap Streets Plus, and Small Business Financial Manager. The package has some bonuses. If you've ever thought of creating a Web site for your business, now's your chance: Publisher includes a handy Web Site Wizard. And the Financial Manager comes with an array of templates, including ones that let you create a business plan and cash flow projections, as well as "what-if" wizards. …