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It’s school time again, and the law students are filing back in droves. What do you give a law student who has everything in the way of stress and reading material? How about some nifty techno gadgets to make life just a bit nicer during the next few months of euphoric legal training? Some of these products are new, while some have been around but are just now getting noticed. A gaggle of nifty devices that should appeal to the tech-savvy law student are available, but only seven made the cut here, selected for their style, utility and relative affordability.

Palm Vx ($399.00) with Palm Portable Keyboard ($99.00) http://www.palm.com/products/ palmvx/index.html With a brief tip of the hat to the newly minted Palm M100, the 2mb mass-appeal Palm hand-held, destined for college and high school backpacks, our gaze turns to the new notebook substitute: the Palm Vx with the folding Palm Portable Keyboard. The Palm V was cool but — with only 2mb of memory — a bit stingy on storage. The Palm Vx, on the other hand, sports a cavernous 8mb of storage, facilitating the use of this device as a notebook substitute. When the Palm Vx is combined with the recently released Palm Portable Keyboard, which folds up to a cool, pocket-sized package, you have a very light and efficient substitute to the bulky, ubiquitous notebooks crowding today’s law school classrooms. Granted, it’s not a cheap combo, but it’s much less than a full notebook computer if you don’t need one or would rather leave that bulk at home. (The Portable Keyboard is also available for the Palm III series, as well as the Palm VII series.)

Iomega ZIP 250 USB($179.95) http://www.iomega.com/zip/ products/usb250.html Iomega has done it again with a great portable storage product — only this time, using USB. After years of living in the margins of the technology world, USB connectivity has finally become commonplace. Now with hot, swappable plug-n-play USB and a 250mb capacity, the sleek, external Zip 250 is a great way to keep your data safe. Keep backups handy and share those huge outlines or even swap some MPEGS or MP3s just to keep the law school grind from getting the best of you.

Targus Defcon1 ($49.99) http://www.targus.com/ accessories_security.asp Have you ever had a notebook go missing? That can be a nightmare for anyone, but especially for a hard-driving law student. Avoid that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. The Targus Defcon 1 is a great solution for people studying in the library who want to feel confident that when they come back from a restroom break their notebook computer will still be there. The Defcon 1 is a locking cable-tether, combined with a motion sensor and a 110 decibel alarm. This product may not be a big hit with the librarian crowd, but you can be sure that no one will be marching off with your stuff to the sound of a screaming siren. It will work with bags, computers, and just about anything else you can loop the cable-tether around or over.

Sony Music Clip ($299.00) http://www.ita.sel.sony.com/ jumpusicclip/start.html All work and no play can make Jack (and Jill) a dull person. Enter the latest in personal entertainment and forget about all the troubles associated with Napster. The Sony Music Clip is nothing short of incredibly cool. The unit is about the size of a fat Mont Blanc pen and weighs only two ounces. It will play up to two hours of music in the MP3 or ATRAC3 formats, storing 64 mb of downloaded music. At around $300.00 this tiny clip may seem a bit pricey, but it may also be that one device that keeps you sane while studying the exceptions to the hearsay rule or maybe the ins and outs of the table of consanguinity.

HP Capshare ($289.99) http://www.capshare.hp.com/ Now, who doesn’t like a good handheld scanner/copier? I wish I had had one of these when I was in law school. The HP Capshare is a really neat innovation in the world of imaging. It will copy a multicolumned page in as many passes as necessary, stitch it back together in its memory and allow you to send it wirelessly to a printer, a computer or even your hamster’s specially designed IR collar. Just kidding about the hamster, but it is a great tool for those of us who can use a quicker way to either reproduce or electronically store text. You can copy and print or copy and convert to editable text using an OCR program. The Capshare is a great tool for researching. Just scan the portion of the source you need and either print out a hard copy or send it to your computer for OCRing and editing. It’s also a great way to avoid the lines at the library photocopier.

Seiko Smart Pad ($199.00) http://www.seikosmart.com/ products/smartpad.html Have you ever wanted to get a diagram into your computer easily without having to scan it? Or wanted to jot a quick note with a regular pen instead of a stylus on a PDA? The Seiko Smart Pad is a zippered portfolio binder with a notepad that allows you to write notes or draw diagrams on a paper tablet while simultaneously sending your scribbles to your Palm. The Palm is docked in a pocket on the left side of the portfolio, while the notepad is on the right. The notepad is placed over a pressure-sensitive panel that transmits to the Palm. This is the only device I have seen that allows you to draw or write directly into a PDA device using a “normal” paper surface. This product is great for those illustrated black acre hypotheticals in property class or for thought-free doodling.

APC Back-UPS Pro 500 Clear ($180.00) http://www.apcc.com/products/ back-ups_pro_usb/index.cfm In law school and later as lawyers we learn (hopefully) that you can never be too careful. APC has made caution stylish with its latest offering in uninterruptible power supplies. The APC Back-Ups Pro 500 is already a sleek-looking, USB-enabled power protection device with sophisticated features and a full $25,000 warranty. Now it’s available in a clear case, suitable for a spot on this cool products list, as well as a place of honor in your favorite law student’s computer work zone. A good UPS is just good sense and cheap insurance, particularly in areas where your power can be dicey. As a system administrator who has lost several systems to poor power supply and catastrophic power events, I have learned the hard way that APC should have a role in every computer’s life or it may end in an untimely death. Be safe and be cool; get the Clear Back-UPS Pro 500. Phillip C. Bohl is a lawyer and associate director for computer services at Pepperdine University Law Library.

Making the Most Out of Law School. October 16-27. Free Program.

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