PRODUCT REVIEW

Portable Password Protector Locks Your Secrets Tight

Creating strong passwords with letters and numbers is vital to keepingsecure access to computers and online accounts. Remembering them andeasily retrieving them are equally vital. A password is only as goodas the user’s ability to remember it.

In today’s world of mobile access and multiple accounts, that can be avery big problem. Until now, the available solutions were risky atbest.

For instance, carrying around a list of passwords in a wallet orcubbyhole in a briefcase just invites discovery. Sooner or later, theaccount holder loses the paper or the bad guy bent on ID theft findsit.

Usually no better is ferreting away passwords into a computer file orsmartphone folder. Encrypting the stored file in these mobile devicesmay deter common thieves, but less so the hacker pro.

Atekhas a high-tech yet simple and cost-effectivesolution. The Logio Secure Password Organizer provides a credit-cardsize device that stores different, hard-to-guess passwords simply bymemorizing one master passcode to access the encrypted data.

Lightweight Memory Card

The Secure Password Organizer is wafer sized at 1/8 of an inch, making it easyto carry in a wallet, purse or pocket. A leather carrying case andcolor-coded lanyard gives users other mobility options.

At first blush, Atek’s Passwork Organizer seems little more than aduplicator of features already available in Personal Data Assistants(PDAs) and smartphones. But these mobile digital data vaults are muchless secure. Atek’s device can hold over 200 records. Each recordcontains one line each for storing site name, username and password.Depending on whether passwords are typical eight-characterlength or longer, even more record storage is possible.

In addition, the user can have the Password Organizer generate randompasswords automatically or he or she can manually enter numbers, uppercase andlowercase letters, symbols and punctuation marks. More than just apassword keeper, the Password Organizer can also store desktop logins,ATM and debit card PIN codes, credit card numbers, frequent flyerprogram numbers and driver’s license numbers.

Secrecy Intact

Atek stores all data behind a master password and protects everyrecord with sophisticated AES encryption. A built-insecurity provision temporarily times out access after three wrongentry attempts of the master password. The device denies the accessprompt for increasingly longer time intervals. Once the user entersthe correct master password, the delay factor resets to normal.

For added security, removing the battery does not erase thenonvolatile memory. In addition, the legitimate device owner cannotreset the password. So write down the master password and lock it up.

In fact, even Atek cannot retrieve the master password or reset itfor the owner. The device has no backdoor and does not interface witha computer. It is strictly an isolated, handheld memory card.

Safe or Sorry

The Secure Password Organizer, available in white or black for US$29.95,is easy to use. I had no trouble installing the included battery andcreating a master password, along with creating several records usingthe cell phone style keypad. I did this without benefit of thedirections.

It took me a bit more effort, though, to learn some of the moresophisticated features for recalling records and displaying certainrecords quickly. Learning these functions, however, required viewingthe user’s manual.

Designed as the ultimate safety feature, the Secure Password Organizerhas no backup capability. This is small solace to users who suffer adevice malfunction or simply lose the device itself. Atek recommendspurchasing two devices and creating duplicate entries just in casedisaster strikes.

Despite the designed weakness preventing data backup or masterpassword recovery, Atek’s Secure Password Organizer is useful gadget,especially for business users. Its $29.95 price is realistic for whatit provides, even if you decide to buy the second unit for backuppurposes. Given the alternative of stolen passwords and ID theft, thecost of not having the Password Organizer could be considerablygreater.

OnBoard Travel Keyboard

Atek also makes the OnBoard Travel Keyboard, a device designed to solve another major problem computerusers on the go often face. It gives users of tiny laptops and netbooks afull keyboard landscape.

What if you could have a slice of just the standard typing rows liftedfrom your desktop’s full-size keyboard to take with you? Ideally, thispie slice of just the QWERTY rows would be small enough to stow awayin the laptop carry case. Of course, this keyboard slice would stillbe about half a length longer than the entire netbook, but thekeyboard would still be easy to carry.

That is the solution Atek’s keyboard provides. Atek takes a differentapproach to fold-up, roll-up or flimsy miniature keyboards. TheOnBoard Travel Keyboard has a solid structure with full-size keys anda dedicated numeric keypad. The numeric keypad is something that isusually eliminated from today’s typically cramped keyboards on smallform-factor netbooks and notebook computers

Forgives Trade-Off

One of the things I most dislike on smaller laptops is the keyboarddesign. Several years ago I selected an HP Pavilion wide-screen laptopwith a keyboard length of 14 inches. The key span is still slightlycompacted compared to my full-size dekstop keyboard. That was mytrade-off to portability and work efficiency.

A more recent purchase of an Acer laptop has a keyboard shorter bysome two inches. And to make up for the layout weakness caused by thecramped landscape, the keys form a fanned-out pattern rather thanlinear rows. This requires too much of an adjustment, especially whenswitching from a standard desktop computer to the smaller laptop.

The keyboard size — or rather the lack of size — is an even biggerissue with the netbook I recently bought for ultimate portability.Forget doing anything other than two-fingered key swipes on that 73/4-inch long keyboard configuration.

The OnBoard Travel Keyboard solves these problems. At 14 3/4 inchesfrom end-to-end and weighing under 1.4 lbs., it has the typingtouch and feel of my standard desktop keyboard.

Design Makeover

Atek’s keyboard is not a wobbly, fold-up gizmo. Rather, it has solidbase with standard key spacing and normal key travel. It has a USBcord management system for travel storage and a hard protective cover.Turn this cover over and insert the keyboard into the recess to get acomfortable typing angle. For added comfort, an inflatable palm restis included.

A standard desktop keyboard has 104 keys. Atek’s portable keyboard has99 keys, including the numeric keys at the right side. The missingfive keys are Print Screen, Scroll Lock, Pause Break and the rightside Ctrl and Windows keys. Of course, these functions still exist onthe laptop’s resident keyboard.

The OnBoard Travel Keyboard works with Windows Vista, XP, 2000 andMac OS X, though not all of the keys are functional on a Mac. Althoughnot specified by Atek, the keyboard also works with Linux. Itwas a perfect fit for the Linux OS that runs my netbook.

At $29.95, this keyboard is a real bargain.

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