CES: New printing systems, tablet

Panasonic Toughbook

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Silex site

LAS VEGAS -- Silex Technology officials are thinking about new ways to print. They showed off two new products at this year's Consumer Electronics Show: one that focuses on wireless printing for travelers and one that increases printing security.

WiPrint, an on-demand 802.11b wireless printing system, allows mobile workers such as contractors to print without connecting to the host's network, a feature agency officials will appreciate.

To use the system, users access a WiPrint-enabled printer via a Web interface. Users select the printer and grant permission for the system to download the printer driver onto their computers. It also sets up the printing configuration, and users are ready to print.

To address security concerns, WiPrint's SecurePrint System uses biometrics to solve the thorny problem of printing secure documents on a shared printer.

When someone sends a job to print, the system holds the document in the print queue until users scan their fingerprints at the printer.

The scanner connects to the printer using a small USB device server from Silex. The device server features four USB ports so you can attach one fingerprint reader and up to three USB network printers.

Toughing it out

Who knew something this tiny could be this tough?

Panasonic's Toughbook 18 ruggedized convertible tablet looks like someone put the usual bulky ruggedized computer form factor in the dryer. It weighs only 4.5 pounds and measures 10.7 inches x 8.5 inches x 1.9 inches.

The unit looks like a notebook at first glance, but the display rotates and folds down on top of the keyboard to create a slate tablet.

The 10.4-inch shock-mounted touch-screen is antireflective and features 1024 x 768 resolution. An optional proprietary display automatically balances sunlight and backlight in ambient light environments.

This little convertible takes care of all your wireless needs with integrated, concurrent access to wide-area networks, local-area networks and Global Positioning System.

It's also tough as nails, meeting Mil-Std 810F for impact shock, vibration, water, dust, heat and cold. The 40G low-voltage hard drive is shock mounted and isolated, and the system is protected by a magnesium alloy case.

The Toughbook 18 also contains the latest performance features, such as Intel Centrino technology, which uses the new ultra low-voltage Pentium M ULV 713 processor at 1.1 GHz with enhanced Intel SpeedStep technology.

The compact lithium-ion battery pack is rated at five hours, an impressive rating for a convertible this small.

The Toughbook 18 is available on the GSA schedule for $3,000.

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