BlackArmor hard drive; KR2 Mobile Router

BlackArmor hard drive; KR2 Mobile Router

The scoop: Maxtor BlackArmor USB portable hard drive, by Seagate, about US$128 (from CDW, 160GB capacity, 320GB available soon).

What it is: Like many portable storage devices, the BlackArmor fits in the palm of your hand and connects to a PC via USB cable. Unlike many devices, all of the data stored on the BlackArmor is automatically encrypted, as the device includes hardware-based, full-disc encryption technology (128-bit AES encryption).

You cannot access any of the data on the device without a password, and if you forget the password you better remember the password hint answer, because there's no other way to get the password. Seagate says that even a professional data-recovery service can't access or restore the data without the correct credentials. While the drive isn't completely ruggedized, it does have a protective slip case, which gives it some protection from damage.

Why it's cool: It's hard to see a more secure way of protecting data on a portable storage device -- even removing the USB cable from the notebook or PC automatically locks the drive. The software automatically installs from the device, so there's no additional CD-ROM to install from. Bundled software includes very easy-to-use backup and synchronization software, which provides an easy way to back up data stored on a PC.

Some caveats: Not available for Mac systems (boo!). Also, I'd recommend deleting unwanted files from your source drive before synchronizing, as you will likely end up with unwanted files on the mobile drive after you synchronize (and then when you delete said unwanted file, it shows back up the next time you synch).

Bottom line: A great portable device for companies looking to make sure data that goes mobile is encrypted and only accessible by the right people.

Grade: 4.5 stars (out of five)

The scoop: KR2 Mobile Router, by Kyocera Wireless, about $250.

What it is: An upgraded model of its KR1 Mobile Router, the KR2 now supports cards that can access the CDMA EV-DO networks (either Sprint or Verizon). In a nutshell, the KR2 uses the WAN connection from those cards (standard notebook card) and then creates an 802.11n Wi-Fi LAN for notebook users to access that WAN connection.

Why it's cool: The KR2 is great for groups of people who need quick access to a network in areas where either Wi-Fi doesn't exist or who want to share a wireless WAN connection. Some examples include outdoor sites that need to have groups collaborate, or even providing network access within a moving vehicle. With its updated support for EV-DO and 802.11n systems, the KR2 now supports faster network connections for those users.

Some caveats: Nothing major to report here, although installing the KR2 and getting the settings configured will require some above-average knowledge of wireless routers, especially if you want to configure wireless security settings. Also, if that wireless WAN card you're using has data download limits, remember that multiple people accessing the card will add to the total, so make sure you have an unlimited data download plan.

Grade: 4.5 stars

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