Meeting of the Minds

These three tools will help you generate and capture great ideas at your next brainstorming session.

Get Board

Plenty of interactive whiteboards let you save your drawings and doodles to a computer file. Few of these whiteboards are as flexible or as intelligent as the Smart Board. The device boasts remarkable interactivity with Windows and Macintosh computers. You can create charts and diagrams and then save them to a computer. (The board is even smart enough to recognize the colors of your dry-erase markers!) You can project from a computer screen onto the board - and use the board's touch-sensitive screen to control the computer. And the Smart Board integrates third-party conferencing applications such as Microsoft NetMeeting and Intel ProShare, so colleagues at other locations can see what you've drawn.

Meeting tools this smart don't come cheap. Entry-level versions of the Smart Board are available from $1,199. Ultrapowerful versions sell for as much as $14,999. Call SMART Technologies Inc. (403-245-0333) or visit the Web www.smarttech.com .

Paper Tiger

Nothing unleashes the creative spirit like a blank sheet of paper. Nothing organizes the creative mind like a personal digital assistant. The CrossPad is a "portable digital notepad." You write on standard paper using an ink-and- electronic pen. The pen transmits a signal through the paper, and the notepad records what you've written in digital form. Then you attach the pad to a PC and download your notes.

There's more. The notepad "learns" its user's handwriting. And it can convert random jottings into ASCII text - which allows for even more robust interactions between pad and computer. If only Cross could digitize cocktail napkins!

The CrossPad retails for $399.95. For more information, call Cross Pen Computing Group (800-510-9660) or visit the Web www.cross-pcg.com .

What's the Point?

There are at least two ways to make a point in a meeting: jot an idea on a pad and announce it to the group, or present it on a slide and use a pointer for emphasis. The LaserPen 650 lets you do both. The solid-steel pen, available in a silver or black finish, has an extra-smooth ballpoint end that's attached to a comfortable rubber grip. The other end is a laser pointer with a range of 2,000 feet - perfect for getting people's immediate attention, even in the biggest conference room!

The LaserPen 650 uses three LR44 button-cell batteries and sells for $39.95. Call DeHarpporte Trading Co. (612-937-8429) or visit the Web www.net-info.com/~laser .

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