The Holiday Buyer's Guide - November, 2002 Vol. 1, No. 3
IS Newswire
The Latest Technology News from the
Long & Foster Information Services Department

This Month's Issue
The Holiday Buyer's Guide - Laptops!

The Holiday Buyer's Guide - Desktops!

Note: Clicking the links below will open the newsletter in your Web browser.

Message From Michael Koval

Free Tech Seminar --'An Evening With Mike'!

LongAndFoster.com Tip - Try APSS/CPSS Today!

Hot New Product!--T-Mobile Sidekick

Nice Digital Camera! - Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-P71

New PDA! - Sony Clie PEG-SJ20

Tell us what you think of the Newswire! Contact us!

New - Ask the CIO!

Have a technical question? Ask the CIO! Each month, Michael Koval will select three questions from agents and answer them in the next issue of the Newswire. The IS Department will give prizes to the three whose questions are selected!

Send in your question now!

 

L&F Electronic Forms Tips

When using Long & Foster Electronic Forms, here are a few tips:

1. In a numberic field, do not enter letters. You will get an error if you do.

2. In date fields, please use this format: mm/dd/yy.

3. In a dollars field, do not enter a comma; it is added automatically.

4. If you are ever in the middle of a contract and need to save it, simply hit Next until you reach the forms main screen. When you reach that screen, your form is saved in the database and the previously entered info will be there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Holiday Buyer's Guide - Laptops
Are you shopping for a laptop for that special someone? We're happy to give you our top full-sized and lightweight laptop picks for 2002!

Full-Sized Laptop - Dell

Dell Latitude C840 - Fast and stuffed to the gills at around $3,000.

 

Santa might develop a backstrain toting the Dell Latitude C840 down the chimney - it weighs in at a lardy 8 pounds. However, it's an outstanding, fast performer that can do just about everything your desktop does. You can read zdnet.com's full review below or go to the site for the review and more information.

The review below is courtesy of zdnet.com.

Intel recently bumped up the speed of its mobile Pentium 4-M processor to 1.8GHz, and Dell wasted no time incorporating the chip into its corporate-focused Latitude C840 laptop. The decision was a wise one; in our labs' benchmark tests, the Latitude C840 tied with Gateway's 600XL as the fastest notebook we've tested to date. Unfortunately, it's also one of the bigger, heavier, and more costly notebooks we've seen.

Faster than a speeding bullet
The Latitude C840 got down to business in our labs' benchmark tests. Equipped with 256MB of DDR SDRAM; a smoking 64MB Nvidia GeForce4 440 Go graphics chip; a 40GB, 4,200rpm hard drive; and Windows XP Pro, the notebook posted an overall SysMark score that tied with the 1.7GHz P4-M-based Gateway 600XL's and finished a hair ahead of the Toshiba Satellite 5105-S607's, even though both competitors carried double the Dell's RAM. Battery life was good; the C840's powerful, 14.8V/3.9Ah lithium-ion battery held out for 162 minutes in our drain tests, 75 minutes longer than the Toshiba's weaker 10.8V/3.6Ah cell and 7 minutes behind the Gateway 600XL's 11.1V/5.7Ah battery. The P4-M's ability to knock its power consumption down from 1.3V to 1V during less battery-hungry periods undoubtedly helped.

Stuffed to the gills
The Latitude C840 is pricey at $3,297, but it's configured to take on anything your boss might throw at you. The DVD/CD-RW and floppy drives are fixed, but the C840's one removable media bay can tak any drive that fits into a Latitude C400, C500, or C600. You also get two Type II (one Type III) PC Card slots, 802.11b wireless hardware, and 56K modem/Ethernet jacks. Dell retained legacy ports such as serial, parallel, and PS/2 to please any corporate customers who still use peripherals based on these technologies. But the company also threw in cutting-edge connections such as IEEE 1394 and S-Video-out. The Latitude C840 even ships with a splitter that plugs into the S-Video port and expands its options to include S-Video-out, composite/NTSC/PAL video-out, and digital audio-out.

Most important for hard-working employees, the Latitude C840 includes an outstanding screen and keyboard. The 15-inch, UXGA, active-matrix display features a native 1,600x1,200 resolution with beautifully crisp text. The keyboard includes both a touchpad and a pointing stick, with corresponding mouse buttons for each. The keys themselves are solid with very firm feedback.

Before you get too excited about the Latitude C840's generous configuration, remember the downside: its leviathan 1.75x13.03x10.87 inch, 8-pound (base weight; 9.2 pounds with AC adapter) chassis, which would fill even occasional travelers with dread. This system is better left on your desk, where you can plug in plenty of peripherals and extras, or limited to short hauls to conference rooms or local clients.

Superb support
As with many Dell Latitudes, the C840 comes with an excellent, three-year, onsite warranty for parts and labor, as well as unlimited, toll-free, 24/7 phone support for the life of the system. Dell also provides its enterprise Latitude customers with their own pages on Dell's support site, which businesses can fill with the FAQ, drivers, and other tech info relevant to their notebook fleets.

Although it will make a pricey dent in the bottom line, the Dell Latitude C840's incomparable speed, ample features, and outstanding support make it a smart corporate choice, especially since you can exchange its parts with those of other Latitude lines. But based on its weight and girth, this notebook is best for employees who only rarely get out of the office.

A More Dainty Laptop - Dell Again

Dell Latitude X200 - Excellent lightweight choice for about $2,000.

Santa's back will have no problem hauling this trim laptop, which weighs in at just 2.8 pounds. You can read the full review below, or go to the site for the review and more information.

The review below is courtesy of zdnet.com.

The new Latitude X200 is the first Dell ultralight to offer a bottom-docking media slice (historically, Dell laptops have docked from the back). While the slice drives up the price of the total package, it also brings the Latitude X200 to the level of a desktop replacement. Frequent travelers will appreciate its versatility, its speed, and its thoughtful design. (Editor's note: This laptop won't be available until May 6.)

Media frenzy
The $2,557 Latitude X200 we tested came with Intel's new 800MHz ultralow-voltage mobile Pentium III-M, 256MB of RAM, and a 30GB hard drive. Its media slice included a floppy drive in one bay and a front-loading, 8X DVD/CD-RW combo drive in the other. Thanks to dual sliding locks, attaching and releasing the slice is a cinch. Sans media slice, the notebook costs $1,999.

Small but well supplied
The Latitude X200 may be small, but it squeezes in a lot of features. It measure .8 inches thick by 10.7 inches wide by 8.9 inches deep and weighs 2.8 pounds. The AC adapter adds .49 pounds, while the media slice adds 2.46 pounds and doubles the notebook's thickness. Connectivity is good, with one IEEE 1394 (FireWire), one Ethernet, one modem, one audio, and two USB ports. The single Type II PC Card slot is nice, but rather than a spring-loaded door, it comes with a flimsy, plastic dummy card that'd be easy to break or lose. Dell meets you halfway on 802.11b wireless networking; you get dual antennae inside the system, but you have to purchase the optional TrueMobile 1150 mini-PCI wireless card ($149) to make them work or use a wireless card in the PC Card slot.

The display and the input devices (the components you'll use the most) are well designed. The 12.1-inch, XGA (1,024x768), active-matrix screen is small--a typical ultralight trade-off--but it's bright and crisp. Atypical for an ultralight, the keyboard is nearly full-sized and feels as big and comfortable as a desktop's. Nestled in the wrist rest is a smooth-feeling touchpad with two mouse buttons underneath.

Average speed, battery life
It's unclear whether the low-voltage processor helped the Latitude X200; the Dell's standard six-cell battery conked out after just 114 minutes in our labs' tests, which is normal for an ultralight. By comparison, the Toshiba Portege 2000 lasted only 92 minutes on its primary battery, but the Gateway 200 held on for 161 minutes. If you need more juice, squeeze out another $199 for the X200's optional second battery, an eight-cell pack.

The Latitude X200 performed capably in our labs' performance tests. Running Windows XP Professional, it closely trailed the Gateway 200, which had a faster 866MHz CPU. The Toshiba Portege 2000's 750MHz mobile Pentium III CPU (which has a slower frontside bus and a smaller Level 2 cache than the mobile Pentium III-M's in the Dell and Gateway) kept it respectfully behind the Latitude X200.

Super service and support
Dell's impressive support package for the Latitude X200 includes a lengthy three-year warranty as well as an onsite, next-business-day repair plan. Toll-free phone support is available 24/7 for the life of the notebook.

As ultralights go, the Dell Latitude X200 is one of the better systems we've seen. Hard-traveling sales agents who want to switch between a well-configured ultralight and a desktop's worth of drives will like the flexibility of the Latitude X200's optional media slice. Competent in speed and features, it also has a great-feeling keyboard for such a tiny machine, and Dell's generous support program is the icing on the cake.

A Message from Michael Koval

I would like to thank the Long & Foster Gold Team for inviting me to speak at their Oct. 12-13 retreat in Quebec City, Canada. We had a highly informative, interactive discussion about the latest in technology and how it can boost sales - LongAndFoster.com, desktops, laptops, Blackberrys, mobile and wireless connectivity, digital cameras, email, broadband and more. Plus, in the surveys you completed I learned a lot about how our top agents use technology every day. Most of you said that technology is very or extremely important to the success of your business. This fact underscores what I say all the time to all of our Sales Associates - integrating technology into your business can make an average sales career a spectacular one. Any agent who is not utilizing a laptop computer, doesn't know what a Blackberry is, checks email once a week or doesn't have it, attend 'An Evening with Mike', my free tech seminars (read the story here).

Winners of door prizes at the retreat were:

Harry "Mike" Jones
Tysons Central Office
Won the laptop and a class pass.

S. Singh "Mary" Bajwa
Bethesda Gateway Office
Won a digital camera

Joseph "Joe" Labow
Annandale Office
Won the wireless laptop card

Linda & Jay Rosenkranz
Bethesda/Chevy Chase Office
Won the Palm

Sharon Slowik
Tysons Office
Won a digital camera

Lacy Alston
Columbia Office
Won a class pass

Gail Lambers
Burtonsville Office
Won a class pass

Mary Jane Wernitznig
Springfield Office
Won a class pass

Again, thank you for having me in Quebec City, and enjoy this Newswire, the Holiday Buyer's Guide. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sincerely,

Michael Koval, CIO

New PDA - Sony Clié PEG-SJ20

 

Sony Clie PEG-SJ20 - best 16MB entry-level Palm OS PDA for just $200.

 

If you are shopping for an excellent entry-level PDA, this is a good one!

The PEG-SJ20 offers a high resolution monochrome screen (320-by-320) and enhanced white-screen backlighting, making it equally usable indoors and outdoors. The 16MB Handspring Visor Pro is comparable in price to the Sony but doesn't offer the enhanced display technology. And Palm's only 16MB PDA, the Palm m515 ($400), costs more than the PEG-SJ20 because of its color display.

Read the rest of the review at pcmag.com now!

Holiday Buyer's Guide - Desktops

Are you looking for a desktop computer for someone's stocking? If so, please take a look at our top desktop pick for 2002!

The Best Desktop - Dell

Dell OptiPlex GX260 - an excellent value coming in around $1,500-$2,000, depending on configuration.

If you're going to equip your company's workforce with desktop PCs, you want to choose a reliable, manageable and well-priced system with a decent warranty and a technology platform that isn't going to become outdated within weeks. The Dell Optiplex GX260 is it! You can read zdnet.com's full review below or go to the site for the review and more information.

The review below is courtesy of zdnet.com.

The GX260 comes in three models, our review sample featuring the 'small desktop' chassis (the other two are the 'small mini-tower' and 'small form factor' models). Dell's model names may be prosaic, but they certainly don't lie: the matt-black and grey 'small desktop' case has a compact 39cm by 43.1cm footprint and is just 10.8cm high. It opens in a convenient tool-free manner by pressing a pair of buttons on either side, whereupon the case hinges at the front to reveal the internal components in an easily accessible layout. If you need to conserve desk space, there's an optional stand that allows the system to be positioned vertically.

Our review sample was powered by a 2.26GHz Pentium 4 processor (one of the new range with a 533MHz frontside bus), although a number of other Pentium 4 and Celeron CPUs are available. The processor is supported by the aforementioned 845G chipset and 128MB of 266MHz PC2100 SDRAM -- the system's pair of DIMM slots supports a maximum of 1GB of RAM. The 'G' in the chipset's name denotes the fact that it also offers integrated graphics -- Intel's new Extreme Graphics solution to be precise. This borrows up to 32MB of system RAM for its purposes (64MB if 256MB or more is fitted), which can obviously impact overall performance when running demanding applications. Many companies will only require adequate performance with mainstream productivity applications, in which case the integrated graphics solution should be fine. However, if more graphics-processing muscle is required, the GX260 provides a low-profile 4X AGP slot that can house a separate adapter -- Dell offers several ATI-based options, culminating in a 32MB Radeon 7500 with TV out.

The front of the GX260 houses a 48-speed CD-ROM drive and a floppy drive, along with a prominent power button and a less prominent grey-coloured flip-open door, behind which lurk a pair of USB 2.0 slots and a headphone jack. Fixed storage is provided by a 20GB Maxtor ATA/100 SMART-compliant drive with a rotational speed of 5,400rpm. At the back there are a further four USB 2.0 ports, plus VGA, serial, parallel, PS/2 (2), RJ-45 (Gigabit Ethernet) and audio (line in, line out and microphone) ports. Given the GX260 case's compact size, it's no surprise that expansion potential is limited: as well as the AGP graphics slot, there are only two half-length PCI slots, both free.

As far as performance is concerned, the GX260's Business Winstone 2001 score of 40.7 shows it to be a capable workhorse when it comes to mainstream productivity applications, but its Content Creation Winstone 2002 score of 23.4 is well behind the fastest desktop PCs we've tested, which score around 40. As indicated earlier, the 845G chipset's integrated graphics create a potential bottleneck when running demanding applications, as indicated by the GX260's 3DMark 2001 score of 799 (leading-edge scores from PCs with state-of-the-art 3D graphics cards score over 10,000). This suggests that if you want to run demanding 3D applications on the GX260, you'll need to either boost the system memory or install a dedicated graphics adapter -- or both.

The OptiPlex GX260 supports a veritable panoply of manageability standards (DMI 2.0s, CIM, WBEM, Wired for Management 2.0, SNMP, SM BIOS 2.3, APM, ACPI 1.0, DDC2b among them), which should reassure IT managers, who worry about these things. Armed with these standards, the GX260 can perform such tricks as remote system alerts, remote BIOS configuration and flash updates, remote wake-up, information export to SMS and DIMM pre-failure alerts. Asset management is also catered for, making the GX260 as manageable a corporate PC as you could wish for. Dell's standard warranty runs for three years, with next business day on-site service; this can be optionally extended to a same-day, four-hour response time service if necessary.

Supplied with a keyboard and mouse, the OptiPlex GX260 is well-priced in addition to being well designed. However, bear in mind that you'll have to add the cost of a monitor -- Dell offers several LCD and CRT options -- as well as, possibly, budget for more system memory and/or a dedicated graphics card. Even so, companies are unlikely to go badly wrong choosing the GX260 for a combination of solid performance, excellent manageability and a modicum of expandability.

Free Tech Seminar! -- 'An Evening with Mike'

CIO Michael Koval loves to talk technology with new and aspiring Sales Associates. That's why he holds his interactive "An Evening With Mike" presentations each month with new and aspiring Sales Associates. In these informal discussions, Mike talks about the latest technology, how to use technology in a real estate sales career, and, of course, Long & Foster's leading role in the real estate industry in the delivery of technology and information services.

Upcoming 'An Evening With Mike' seminars are on:

  • Wednesday, November 13 from 6:00-9:00pm at the NOVA Campus Training Center.
  • Tuesday, November 19 from 6:00pm-9:00pm at the Gaithersburg Training Center.

At these seminars, Mike will showcase the new TabletPC, plus, he will collect your business cards for the free door prize drawing - a new laptop!

Registration is required, but the seminar is free. To register, contact Alyssa London at (703) 359-1650 or email her.

L&F.com Tip- Try APSS and CPSS Today!

With the recent redesign of LongAndFoster.com, Long & Foster agents now access the programs APSS (Agent Profile Self Service) and CPSS (Custom Property Self Service) to update their related data. APSS and CPSS have replaced the old "Admin Section" of LongAndFoster.com.

Please review your APSS web information to ensure your profile and listings appears correctly on LongAndFoster.com. Make sure your MLS ID#, phone numbers, biography text and personal photo are all current. Below are brief descriptions of APSS and CPSS. You can access these from the Intranet homepage.


APSS (Agent Profile Self Service)

Agents use APSS to update their personal information in L&F systems. Some of the new enhancements you can make to your personal information using APSS include:

  • Update your LongAndFoster.com Agent profile information (phone numbers, bio information, cities and counties served, languages, etc.)
  • Provide your MLS ID # so your online listings appear with your name.
  • Update your personal contact information for L&F internal use.


CPSS (Custom Property Self Service)

Agents use CPSS solely to update listings that appear on LongAndFoster.com. Some of the enhancements you can make to your online listings using CPSS include:

  • Add a headline and a custom description.
  • Add unlimited additional photos.
  • Add Virtual tour and other links.

Hot New Product! --T-Mobile Sidekick

 

The Sidekick - A new product worth looking at! Regular price is $199.99 after $50 rebate.

NOTE: CompUSA is selling the Sidekick for just $99 after rebates until 11/2/02.

When CIO Michael Koval was in Canada recently, he gave the company its first look at this outstanding new product from T-Mobile - the Sidekick. It combines email, phone, and Web browsing in one compact device.

Features and benefits:

  • It's your wireless everything. As in, everything you need for communication, information and entertainment.
  • Mobile Snaphots - just attach the camera, snap a shot and send it via e-mail.
  • AOL Instant Messenger ™ Service - now your Buddy List goes where you go.
  • E-Mail - set up as many as three POP3 email accounts to deliver mail directly to your Sidekick.
  • Full-featured mobile phone - Chat it up!
  • Game arcade - For the fun at heart, blow it all off and play an addictive arcade-style game.
  • Other Stuff - An organizer! Synchronize it all wirelessly to your Desktop Interface.
  • Web browser - real surfing on virtually all of your favorite sites.

Note: Service for the Sidekick is provided by T-Mobile. Please check with T-Mobile (formally VoiceStream) before you purchase to make sure service is offered in your area. Service costs $9.95 a month for unlimited data and email. It also includes 400 minutes anytime and 1000 evening minutes. Additional plans are available via T-Mobile. The Sidekick uses GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) technology, so it has world-wide capabilities.

To learn more, go to the T-Mobile site now!

Digital Camera Review - Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P71

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P71 - a great little camera for only $350-$400.

The Cyber-shot® DSC-P71 takes all the technology and ingenuity that made its predecessors great and adds to that an even more impressive zoom and the great-looking, compact design that makes the Sony Cyber-shot® family a great choice for Long & Foster agents.

Low light is no match for the DSC-P71. Neither is motion. The DSC-P71 takes it all on and delivers the most stunning digital images you've ever seen, hands down.

Its software runs on 98, 2000, and XP, home and Professional. To read more about this great camera, go to cnet.com now.