released its new line of Satellite Pro, Tecra, and Portégé business laptops with Windows 7 support. The Satellite Pro line features new screen-size options in 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch diagonal display configurations as well as a 13.3-inch diagonal touch-screen display. The new Satellite Pro U500 Touch laptop features a 13.3-inch diagonal multi-touch screen display that helps mobile professionals easily tap, drag and drop, and scroll through files, calendars, and tasks or zoom in and out of a window with just a two-finger pinch. In addition, Toshiba is including touch-ready basic productivity software, Toshiba LifeSpace, on the Satellite Pro U500 Touch.www.laptops. toshiba.com
GENERAL-PURPOSE: The TLP-X150U ($899) offers 2,600 ANSI lumens and XGA 1,024x768 resolution and weighs only four pounds. It features closed-captioning capabilities, extensive multimedia connectivity and a USB port for “PC-free” presentations. Its lamp life is 2,000 to 3,000 hours (eco mode).SHORT-THROW: Toshiba’s TDP-EW25U ($1,869) is the company’s “extreme-short-throw-projection” projector, which can project an image of up to 100 inches diagonally from just four feet away. It is a 2,600-lumen, WXGA projector with a lamp life of 2,000 to 3,000 hours.INEXPENSIVE: The Toshiba TDP-SP1U ($549) offers 2,000 lumens, SVGA 800x600 resolution and 2,000:1 contrast ratio and weighs just four pounds. Its lamp life is 3,500 to 4,000 hours.POCKET: Toshiba has a new, palm-sized TDP-F10U LED projector that weighs only 1.4 pounds. It is a 100-lumens, 1,000:1 contrast DLP projector that connects to laptops, DVD players and gaming consoles.
Novlet.com is a Web application that supports what the site describes as collaborative nonlinear story writing. Using Novlet.com, reader-writers add passages to the narrative anywhere they want. If the user doesn’t like any of the continuations that have already been written, he or she can start a new story line. The stories can be written in a variety of languages, including some obscure ones, such as Bislama.PROS: Novlet.com gives students a chance to practice writing skills on a Web site and to feel that they’re “publishing” something online. Students can write alternative endings to classics or create their own stories.CONS: It’s tough to go back and edit your own passage; since other users have already added passages and hidden drafts, you wind up altering the plot of the story. Talented student writers may feel that this limits their creativity. Also, writers are discouraged from editing one another’s passages. If a writer thinks another’s passages are poorly written, she is encouraged to post a comment or send a message.OVERALL EVALUATION: The application is designed for collaboration, which means that writers of all abilities are invited to participate. That can be positive or negative, depending on your point of view. If you have an active inner journalist or inner English teacher, resisting the temptation to edit may be difficult.www.novlet.comRetail price: free
Learning.com’s Digital Learning Environment is an online curriculum management tool that coordinates lesson plans to national and some state curriculum guides. Teachers have the ability to share their best lesson plans with other educators, and can interact with students via online journal lessons (interactive web pages). Users can import media for outside resources such as teacher tube, and the program encourages teachers to relate lesson plans to curriculum guidelines as they are being written. Lessons are stored on companies’ servers, eliminating the need for local installations.PROS: The software is an excellent value, since anyone who currently uses a Learning.com product can access it free of charge. This is one of the easiest to use curriculum management tools available. It includes a comprehensive feature set that is robust enough to get the job done, especially for elementary schools. With a crisp and clean user interface, anyone who can use a word processing program can use the Digital Learning Environment. Sharing lesson plans among teachers makes it easy to collaborate with co-workers. CONS: To reach a larger audience, the product needs to be coordinated to more state curriculum guidelines.OVERALL EVALUATION: Schools will benefit from a software tool like Digital Learning Environment, a product that boosts collaboration between teachers and allows for easy student-teacher interaction via interactive web pages.www.learning.comRetail price: Free to current Learning.com customers.—Joe Huber
The Toshiba TDP-F10U LED Projector (explore.toshiba.com) is a palm-sized mobile projector weighing in at just 1.4 pounds. The TDP-F10U LED projector is built with an energy-efficient, lamp-free LED light source and delivers 100 lumens of brightness. The projector’s native SVGA 856 x 600 resolution and contrast ratio of 1,000:1 displays clear images and easy-to-read text anytime, anywhere. Connect options include one computer input, composite video, one SD card slot, and a USB port. Other features are an auto adjustment of the input signal from a PC, digital zoom, keystone correction, whisper-quiet operation, and a remote control.