February 28, 2009

Favorite Products of 2008

Filed under: Review — Terry Wohlers @ 12:11

As I have done in the past, I’ve identified a few products from the past year that have been as good or better than expected. Here goes ….

1) Seagate portable drive. The 250 GB FreeAgent Go portable disk drive from Seagate is slick, especially compared to my older portable drives. It measures 11 x 80 x 130 mm (0.45 x 3.15 x 5.1 inches), weighs 170 grams (6 ounces), and fits in a small pocket. A USB connection is all that is needed for both power and data transfer. It works particularly well for backing up and storing data off site. I purchased two, each for $65 (with discounts). The product is also available in a 500 GB version.

2) HP laser printer. The LaserJet P2015d printer from Hewlett-Packard is an excellent product. With a discount, I paid $333 for it. We’ve had it for six months and found it to work beautifully in a small office. We paid $1,995 for our last (and first) laser printer—the LaserJet 4M—and it lasted 20 years. The new printer is smaller, lighter, faster, and quieter than the old one and it prints on the front and back of the page. The toner is slighter more expensive than before, but it’s still inexpensive compared to inkjet cartridges.

3) ThinkPad laptop. I liked my Panasonic Toughbook a lot, but after more than four years of use, it was time to hand it down to one of the kids. After considerable research, I purchased the ThinkPad X300 for $1,999. I use it almost exclusively for travel, so size and weight were very important. It is only 22 mm (0.87 inch) thick and weighs 1.45 kg (3.2 lbs). Yet the screen measures 340 mm (13.4 inches) diagonally. The other features are good too, except for one: The standard battery provides only about two hours of use and I was led to believe that it would last about twice as long. I’ve done everything possible to minimize the use of power, except for switching off the wireless radio because I use it a lot. Even so, I like the computer and I’m glad I bought it.

4) Spore Creature Creator. I’m not a video game player, but this is an exception. My interest in it is from a custom product design and manufacturing perspective. Spore Creature Creator allows you to create intriguing creatures in minutes that can then be manufactured on a color 3D printer from Z Corp. Go to sporesculptor.com if you’re interested. Without spending any time learning how to use the software, I was creating interesting creatures in less than five minutes and having fun doing it. Best of all, a version of the product is available for free at download.com.

I appreciate when companies produce and deliver products that exceed my expectations. Over the past year, four computer-related products stood out above the rest. Thanks to Seagate, Lenovo, HP, and Electronic Arts for making life a bit better for their customers.