Other hardware advice...

Okay, seeing as you guys have now sorted me out with a keyboard, monitor and router, I figured I’d ask your advice on two further pieces of hardware I require:

  1. Backup disk (preferably firewire so that it can be used as a boot disk if necessary, but not essential - firewire disks are less popular in the UK, it seems).

  2. Digital voice recorder. I know there is a decent cheap one where you can pull it in half to reveal the USB thingy and just use it as a normal flash drive if you want. That’s the sort of thing I’m after.

  3. Cheap laser jet printer.

Usual rules apply - any recommendations must be available in the UK, and even better on Amazon.co.uk

Thanks again!

Now I’m beginning to feel like a proper show-off.

  1. I use a Lacie 320GB Firewire 800, 400 and USB 2.0 D2 hard-drive, purchased from Amazon but supplied by Micro Anvika. At around £150, it’s somewhat noisy (takes off rather than starts up) but is solidly built and, like my NetGear router, has never given any problem whatsoever. That’s a definite recommend.

  2. The voice recorder you’re describing sounds like an Olympus WS100 (200, 300, 320). I’ve read some good reports about them, but when I looked at one in Staples, I thought that the build quality was rather flimsy, and the playback was far inferior to my older Olympus VN 900. Olympus do seem to be the market leader in the UK though, and their professional range (see the DS 4000) is excellent, but boy - do you pay for it!

  3. Colour or mono printer? The mono laser models are becoming a disposable item now, they’re so cheap. What sort of print output quality are you looking for?Roy

Back up disk:

I use Western Digital My Book Pro 500 GB, comes with Firewire 400 and 800 as well as USB 2.0. Was highly rated in MacWorld and Amazon. I bought it through Amazon for $220. Now comes in 750 GB. Works fine for me. Comes with Retrospect back up, but I threw that away in favor of SuperDuper. I think I will continue to use SuperDuper along with Time Machine when Leopard arrives. I back up personal user files every day, and the entire computer once a week.

Cheap laser jet printer (assuming B&W, not color):

Laser jet is a brand name of HP, I do believe. If you are locked into HP, I can’t help. But if your question is about laser printers in general, then I can recommend the Brother HL-2050DN, cost around $240 because I bought it at Office Max store instead of online—$40 less online but didn’t want to wait.

Just noticed that this particular laser printer received the highest rating (recent review article) from CNET or PCWorld. Was highly rated when I bought it toward end of last year. This model allows network connection and duplex printing. Prints fast. Was a snap to set up.

People have commented on how sharp the text looks on the print outs. It is extraordinary. The graphics are excellent as well, which was a major consideration for me. Am very pleased with this printer, and have had no problems. I’ve only used it to print envelopes once so far, and I had to flip a lever in back of printer (designed for this very purpose) to avoid creating wrinkles when printing.


Yes, Keith, like Arashi I use a Brother HL-20 mono laser printer (HL-2070N in my case). I’ve had it for over 2 years and every now and then I force it to spew out a few thousand pages, usually overnight, and I’ve had no problems with it at all. None of those paper jams that leave you covered in ink and with scrunched-up paper all over the floor. Weeping, even. I bought it from PC World, the first and only time I’ve bought anything from them.

Three years ago I thought about buying a digital recorder and a small digital camera for research trips. then I discovered the Sony Clié, which has camera, digital recorder, keyboard input, handwriting recognition and an MP3 player, as well as all the usual PIM stuff. Instead of dragging round a backpack full of heavy equipment (Nikon F80, anyone?), I have one tiny implement that does it all. I’m sure there’s something cheaper and more advanced by now, but I’m sticking with the Clié.

For backup I send all my altered files off-site every evening, automatically, at 6 pm. If the flat burns down, I’ll still have my work files. I use Bunker Backup. It’s more expensive, but amazingly simple and reliable, and designed specifically for writers.


Just got an Olympus ws-300m digital voice recorder. Very easy to use, lots of recording time, good voice quality. I can plug it right into the USB port of my computer and download files (to be transcribed in Scr.!). It plays mp3 files, though with my iPod I don’t need this. I find it to be not at all flimsy and is very small and easy to store.

Can offer no advice on the other requests, sorry.


I’m very happy with HP LaserJets. Those at the office are excellent. My old, trusty 4ML is doing is work since 14 year, and I can still buy replacement cartridges for it.

Cant’ answer for the other points. I use two LaCie USB disks, plus a small 2.5 Firewire case from OWC, and an old (and noisy) 4.5 Firewire case also from OWC. They all work fine.


I have to second the recommendation of the Brother laser printers.

I have an older HL-1435 that’s just a champ. It’s on an Airport Express so I can print to it from any computer in the house (both Mac and PC). Also have an HL-2040 that, with rebate, cost less than a laser toner cartridge. These aren’t for constant use, but I do print out quite a lot of research materials on top of manuscripts, and they do just fine. (I also have several inkjets for color output, but of course would not use them for manuscripts, etc.)

I also have an HP 1220 Laserjet and while it works ok, its fuser runs much hotter than the Brother printers’ do. I’ve actually had condensation dripping from an upper tray from moisture the printer sucked out of the paper. I’ve also had trouble with paper curling. Try coming back after starting a 200-page print job and finding the room covered in spewed out curled paper! :laughing: Yeah, it was a giggle, but it was also a serious PITA.

Heavier paper seems to work better (and HP’s own brand is better), but I much prefer 20lb recycled stuff for my drafts and research stuff that’s marked up and filed, so I use the Brother printers most often.

For external harddrives, I like my Seagates. They come with both firewire and USB 2.0, so are versatile and, with my Macs, plug and play. There are other, more portable ones out there, though, if that’s what you’re needing.

On disks, actually I understand that on your MacBook Pro, you can use a USB 2 drive for a bootable backup … for PPCs it had to be Firewire. I prefer FireWire anyway. I was planning to get an Iomega 640 or 1TB disk, but here they are something like 5 times the price. I have had Iomega stuff … zip disks and such … and always been pleased with them. Iomega has had some amazing deals recently in their mail-outs. I think there’s a Western Digital that caught my eye in MacUser UK, but I’m here in China. Here you buy the case and the drive separately and the shop puts them together for you. I currently have a 320GB, which I think is Matsushita in an aluminium case of some make … works fine. 120GB partition has a nightly bootable backup (Synchronize! Pro) of the main HD; the rest I use for media files apart from music. But my plan is still to have a bootable 750G+ on which I’ll install the system, iMovie and LightRoom only and boot from that for working on video and photos.

Don’t have a laser printer but often wish I had. From all I’ve read, I’d go for a Brother, I think.

Voice recorder, colleagues got some by Samsung which seem to work well. USB connection, solid … I did connect one with my old TiBook, to get the recordings off for one colleague, 'cos they couldn’t get it to talk to the Windows box – Windoze 95, I suspect!

But of course, I’m here in China … except I get all the Iomega UK mail-outs.


Purely anecdotal, but my Brother mono printer died an early, ignoble death - after many months of interestingly random misbehaviour. (Which appeared to verge on the psychic. This machine never once printed a delivery draft. During its tenure as my supposed printer, every single delivery draft had to go through its final, crucial edit on a screen, giving me a blinding headache. Stuff of no value or importance? The Brother was fine. Happy as a sandwich.)

Eventually, someone kicked it to death. Its corpse lies boxed in my garage. Before its innards were cold, I replaced it with a compact Hewlett Packard. As yet the HP shows no hint of psychic ability. It prints what I ask, and never complains. It is my friend.

For backup and storage, I have always (and I suspect will always) used Lacie products. The Volvo of external storage. Boxy but safe.

Ditto for me on the LaCie external drive, which connects via FireWire or USB. I have two of them, and they’ve never failed. As for printers, I have two Brother HL-1440s and their performance has been flawless. One gets worked hard all the time and the other not much at all. It’s best to buy the extended cartridge, which gives several thousand copies. I don’t like inkjet printers at all, and I prefer laser printers for b/w text.

I have a Brother HL-1250 laser printer (black and white only). Bought it eight years ago, in 1999; has worked flawlessly since then. I never considered buying a newer one, simply because I didn’t have any reason to do so.
And it should not be forgotten that what makes a printer cheap or expensive is not the price of the printer, but the price of the ink cartridge. And the ink cartridges for Brother printers are a lot cheaper than the ink cartridges for most other brands.

My external drive is a La Cie Porsche 160 GB, Fire Wire 400 / USB. Bought it some three years ago; excellent product.

I own 4 Lacie FW drives, 2 of them had problems from the beginning, one has finally been replaced by LaCie, the other one repaired, still making the same noise, which makes you believe, that soon there will be a harddrive crash. For lack of time and energy I stopped having phonetalks with the reseller and LaCie, but will never buy LaCie drives again. (No problems with my LaCie external CD-Burner)

I bought FW cases from IceCube and Pleiades, put 3,5“ Samsung HDs inside. Works very fine, no noises. For use with my iBook ‘on the road’ I have two Daisy Cutter cases, with 2,5“ Hitachi 100GB HD inside. Very small, with FW and USB ports (I never had to use USB for my purposes).

Concerning the voice recorder: there are microphones for the iPods too, from Griffin (iTalk Pro Microphone) and Belkin (iPod G5 Tunetalk Stereo), both available at amazon.uk. I can’t tell you my experiences, because I’m still using the first generation iPod shuffle, no possibility for recording. My 'always in my pocket’ recorder is an EDIROL R09, small and lightweight, but not transfering other data than audio files.


Thanks for the replies!

I’m leaning towards the Western Digital My Book Triple Interface for backup - the LaCie looks pretty good, too, but I’ve always liked Western Digital hard drives. (But then, I always thought Seagate were okay, yet the only reason I’m in the market for a new backup drive is because my year-and-a-half-old Seagate dies completely.)

I’m leaning towards the Brother HL-2070N for a printer - mono is fine, as I have my Canon all-in-one for colour printing.

Thanks again!