SAN FRANCISCO (05/01/2000) - Programs like Netopia Inc.'s Timbuktu let you access your PC away from the office just as if you were sitting at your desk.
In the latest version, Timbuktu Pro 2000, Netopia improves on an already good product's ease of use with such features as dial-up connectivity and the ability to search for a remote user without entering an Internet Protocol address. And you still get the old standbys, including the ability to exchange files, send notes, chat, and converse aloud (using a microphone).
Older Timbuktu versions made you enter the remote user's IP number to connect.
With Pro 2000, you can enter an e-mail address, and Netopia's Internet Locator Service will match it with the user's current IP number--even if it's dynamically allocated.
The new Windows version adds Lightweight Digital Access Protocol support, which the Mac version lacks. Select an LDAP server (Netopia has one) and search for "Bob"; every Bob registered on the server will appear. The system works quickly, but it's best for companies that have their own LDAP server.
Optionally, you can connect by right-clicking on a system in your network neighborhood. If you're scanning for a Mac from your Windows PC, be warned:
You'll need to use the Internet Locator Service or have the IP number handy.
Timbuktu earns its keep many times over and jumps ahead of competitors like LapLink and PCAnywhere with its support for cross-platform environments.
Timbuktu Pro 2000
PRO: New version makes locating other users easier, LDAP support.
CON: Can't see Macs without help, a tad pricey.
VALUE: Fantastic for cross-platform telecommuters and IS staff.
Street price: $190 ($160 download)