Bob and Joy
     By Bob and Joy Schwabach

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January 2002, Week 4 -- The Real World


   Enough of this thumb-sucking over the future of technology, let's look at some products.



 Radeon 7500


Video wars

   ATI Technologies is in one of those head-banging battles with nVidia for supremacy of the video card market. Both companies produce high performance video cards for PCs that are particularly attractive to gamers, as well as architects and graphic artists.

   ATI provides extra bang for your buck by adding TV reception and remote video to its new All-In-Wonder Radeon 8500DV. The power of this $400 display card is awesome and at the heart of it is 64MB of dedicated video RAM. That means 64MB of memory that does nothing but paint the screen, very quickly and in exquisite detail.

   Display resolution with the 8500 goes up to 2048 x 1536 pixels in 3D and has special routines for smooth color shading and line smoothing. The refresh rate is easily good enough to watch DVD movies full screen in real time. No more of those slight delays while the video memory catches up with the film.


   As with some previous versions of the All-In-Wonder cards, you can tune in any of 125 television channels (provided you have an antenna or cable that collects them). You can pause live TV on your computer and watch it later (the card and hard drive will continue to record it.) You can search program guides for any subject, title or actor. You can grab any video frame and save it as a still shot. You can zoom any video shot for a close-up.


   The card's software will look for key words in broadcasts and bring that show into a window on your computer when the word comes up. For example, you might want to be alerted whenever a certain topic or company name comes up. If nothing comes up, the screen is simply quiet.


   As with any modern video card you can connect a digital or analog camcorder and view whatever you've shot. You can also use that camera for remote surveillance. The picture can be viewed on your computer, full screen or in a smaller window, and can be fed out to a regular TV set as well.


   The fact is, this thing is impressive. All of the features of the 8500 card can be controlled by a radio frequency remote that comes in the box. I've been using an earlier All-In-Wonder card for at least the last five years. Time to move up, I reckon. ATI web site:


Hard Copy


 Laser Printer E320


   Lexmark has a new high resolution laser printer for little money. It's the model E320 which sells for $299 and has an output of 16 pages per minute at 1200 dpi (dots per inch). Web site is

   Like other laser printers it comes with a regular print cartridge on board, which contains enough powdered ink for around 4,000 pages. Replacement cartridges are $89. For $154 you can get a "high-yield" cartridge that lasts for about 10,000 printed pages.

   I am a big fan of laser printers, which are fast and cheap to run. Though you only print in black, that is fine for almost all the printing I and most other people do. Color inkjet printers are great for color but the ink costs are high. As we noted in a column last year, printer company' replacement cartridges work out to an ink cost of around $7,000 a gallon.


Film Scanning


 Film scanner

   The new PF-1800AFL from PacificImage scans at an optical resolution of 1800 dpi (true resolution, not enhanced). That's nowhere near the resolution of top of the line film scanners but it is very good, and exceptionally good for the $299 price they're asking. This scanner was voted best of show in its class at the recent International Consumer Electronics Show and should be just right for schools and many individual and business users.

   You can feed in 35mm slides in a slot at the bottom, or whole rolls and strips of film in a slot at the top. Unlike their earlier models, this one will keep scanning frames as long as there's film to look at. The software automatically detects the edges of each image, creates thumbnails and imports them into Adobe PhotoShop Elements (which comes with the scanner) for editing. The scanner is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh.


   This scanner was hard to find when we went looking for vendors on the web. The usual discounters didn't have it but we finally found it at  for $289.




--  Professional writers write about how they became writers. Current featured writer is romance novelist Julia London, who was a real farmer's daughter in Texas. She got a book on "how to get published" from the library and went on from there.


--  Site belongs to the Chicago Historical Society and the museum store has some interesting items like lunch pails decorated with the World War II poster image of Rosie the riveter and the slogan: "We Can Do It!" Also has reproductions of ladies' beaded evening bags from the 1920s.


NOTE: Readers can search nearly four years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at or