Test Center Offers SMB Picks At Virtual Tradeshow

Edward Moltzen, Test Center managing editor, and Samara Lynn, Test Center technical editor, introduced their picks for products for SMBs based on their recent product reviews.

Lynn started out with her pick for SMB operating system -- Windows Small Business Server 2008. She said she liked the simple, almost completely automated, installation.

Lynn also liked the operating system's console, especially the amount of information provided to solution providers to quickly identify customer problems.

Solution providers can easily set up self-issued security certifications and turn on VPNs with Windows Small Business Server 2008, Lynn said. It is also easier than previous versions to quickly set up automated backups and file services, and has improved integration with Microsoft Exchange 2007, she said.

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About the only thing missing, Lynn said, was tighter integration with certain features that would make it more competitive with managed services provider offerings.

In response to a question from the audience, Lynn said that the Test Center at this point cannot recommend virtualizing Exchange 2007 with Hyper-V on Small Business Server 2008.

"Microsoft recently told us they have a step-by-step way to do it, but the buzz we're hearing is, it's not as easy as Microsoft makes it out to be. . . . We're not recommending it yet, but we will be testing it," she said.

Moltzen introduced the Linksys WVC2300 wireless IP security camera from Cisco, which he called an easy-to-use product for small and midsize businesses.

"Setup out of the box was not just routine, it was a breeze," he said. "A two-camera setup was done in the Test Center lab in under 15 minutes."

The cameras support streaming and saving of video in MPEG 4 and JPEG 4 formats, and their software console allows easy management of setups, video formats, and other features.

The solution also allows customers to record new video over old video after a customer-configured time, Moltzen said. "This is an important feature for SMBs who often don't have a lot of extra storage capacity," he said.

The WVC2300 solution has a street price of between $250 and $350, depending on the number of cameras, Moltzen said.

Lynn then introduced the InstaGate unified threat management appliance from eSoft, of Broomfield, Colo.

The InstaGate is an integrated firewall and VPN appliance, which Lynn said was very easy to set up according to company policies. "We really liked how compatible it is with security policies," she said. "We set it up so we could block out gambling sites, but so someone could do a search on gambling. That's an important difference."

The InstaGate's intrusion detection feature is robust, blocking out all the denial-of-service and other intrusions the Test Center threw at it, Lynn said.

The appliance is priced at $599 for gold-level resellers, she said.

Next up was the Dell Vostro V220 desktop PC. Moltzen said it was easy-to-install out of the box, and while it didn't have the performance of previous models, it was a good performer compared to other desktop PCs in its class that the Test Center reviewed.

"But what we really liked it for was what it didn't have more than what it did have: bloatware," he said. "There was no unneeded software on the toolbar."

Moltzen then introduced the Test Center's pick for LCD monitors, the Lenovo ThinkVision L2440P. This is a 24-inch LCD monitor with a native 1900 x 1200 resolution. List price is $499.

Even at that price, which is at the higher end of the price scale, the L2440P has a lot of features, including four USB ports, and offers the best performance-per-watt of any monitor the Test Center tested, Moltzen said.

"Bundled with Lenovo desktops, it's a compelling sale," he said.

For small and midsize business notebook PCs, the Test Center picked the Nexlink Carbon series of custom-built models from Seneca Data, Syracuse, N.Y.

Moltzen said the notebook PCs, based on Intel's Bridge Creek platform, feature performance and battery life on par with similar systems from name-brand vendors.

Pricing for the Nexlink Carbon family starts at about $700, but the model which the Test Center tested, with a bright 14.1-inch display and 4 Gbytes of memory, was priced at about $1,175, Moltzen said.

Moltzen also showed the Panasonic Toughbook CF-U1, which he called the first ultramobile, rugged PC based on Intel's Atom processor.

The CF-U1 resists wind, spills, dust, and vibration, and can survive a 4-foot drop, Moltzen said.

It comes with a 5.6-inch touch screen display with a 1,024 x 600 resolution which Moltzen said works well with either the included stylus or a user's finger. "This could fill a really important role for those who have to be mobile," he said.

List price at the time the Test Center reviewed the CF-U1 was $2,500, Moltzen said.

Lynn then introduced the MacAfee Internet Security Center, a security software with an easy-to-use interface.

Lynn said the software includes such features as the ability to easily delete cookies and user caches in a much more comprehensive fashion than what is included with Internet browsers, and has the ability to shred deleted files. It also has a very robust setup, which Lynn said is almost automated.