Sunday, August 24, 2008

Upek Eikon Fingerprint Reader for Flashpackers

Most of the travel gear reviews on this blog are for devices and gadgets most anyone could have a need for, but this Eikon to Go gadget from Upek is another story. It is a little larger than a regular USB drive, with a sliding cover over a reader for your fingerprint. Consider it a device to keep anyone else from using your laptop, or getting at your data, or logging onto sites where you've stored passwords. It's like a faceplate for your car stereo: after Eikon reader is set up, your laptop needs your fingerprint to do its thing.

After you pop this device out of its clamshell packaging, you hook it up to your PC or Mac and follow the wizard instructions to "enroll" yours---as in getting your fingerprints scanned and having those prints converted to encrypted mathmatical formulas. Then a "biomenu" appears that lets you decide how many of the possible features you want to use.

The features range from a simple lock/unlock function to locking specific folders to loads of password application and storage options. The most useful feature for many people will be the password bank. With this you surf around your usual sites and when you log in, you can register that site with a swipe of the finger. From now on, you swipe your finger each time you visit (or choose the site from the secure menu) instead of remembering all the passwords.

There are plenty more "gee-whiz" features that some may find useful---like the ability to assign different finger swipes to different applications. (I can think of a few that I would like to assign to the middle finger of my right hand...)

If two of you are sharing a laptop on the road, no problem. With a non-corporate version of XP or Vista, a different finger swipe will bring up the account of a different user automatically.

All this may be overkill if your laptop is mostly filled with photos, G-rated video, and some documents. It is aimed more at corporate travelers looking for an alternative to baffling password trees enacted by the IT department. If you're carrying around anything sensitive, however---and you don't often lose things that are the size of a thumb drive---this could provide some peace of mind on the road.

Although the Eikon to Go launched in April, apart from the Apple stores the retail launch of this thing seems to be taking a while. Check the Upek site for updates on where to find it.

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