Product Reviews

Product Reviews

Time Saver

The obvious use of U.are.U is to keep unauthorized users (like the kids?) from logging on under your name. But there’s another terrific use: For all those Web sites where you’ve set up different IDs and passwords, U.are.U can remember them and log on using your fingerprint.



Digital Persona
Redwood City, Calif.


Desktop peripherals

U.are.U Fingerprint Security System


By Joel Shore

Someone might be able to guess your password, but they’ll never be able to fake your fingerprint. And that, friends, is what security is all about.

Of all the products Ive seen designed specifically for Windows XP, the U.are.U Personal security system from Digital Persona is a sure way to keep your files, logon IDs, and passwords completely private. For a mere $69, this is one security solution that’s a steal.

Designed by a company that specializes in big-time, industrial and financial security systems, this little gizmo is the best way yet to switch quickly among the different user accounts that you’ve probably set up for each family member on your Windows XP-based PC.


If you share a PC, the U.are.U fingerprint identification system is a great way to keep your private files private.


The 2-inch-square U.are.U Personal Sensor with its distinctive red oval scanning window plugs into the USB port of your PC and sits unobtrusively on your desktop. Keep in mind, that this product requires Windows XP (Home or Professional Edition) and a USB port. Windows Me, 2000, 98, or 95 are not acceptable.

Installation of the device and software is pretty easy. A wizard guides you through the process of plugging in the sensor, installing the software, and registering the finger scans of all those who have accounts on the PC. This last step is key. Just as speech-recognition software must be trained to learn your particular vocal patterns, so too do you train U.are.U to recognize your fingerprint.

Two things about U.are.U are really cool. One is that it lets you use your fingerprint for all those different Web sites you visit but which require you to enter an ID and password. When you set up the software, you can enter your favorite Web addresses and the associated user name and password. Later, when you want to visit that site, plunk your finger down in the little red window and you’re on your way. Not only is that a great timesaver, but now you can use smarter security by actually having a different password for every site. Besides, using the dog’s name as the password on every site you visit wasn’t too smart to begin with.


The registration wizard walks you through the process of capturing your fingerprint. This master image is then encrypted, stored, and compared with the “live” fingerprint presented each time a user attempts to log on.

Here’s the other thing that’s so cool. U.are.U is radio-based instead of infrared. Why’s that important? Well, think about the remote control from your TV. It’s infrared. That means it has to have an open line of sight to the little window in the front of the TV that receives the signal. But with radio waves, you don’t have to worry about line of sight. In fact, I tucked the little receiver unit behind my monitor, out of sight and out of harm’s way. Way cool.


Windows XP takes security on a shared PC to a new level by creating individual profiles with personalized settings for everyone using the system. Its Fast User Switching feature allows users to switch profiles without shutting down their applications and logging off.

U.are.U Personal is native-code-compatible with Windows XP and makes switching from one user profile to the next faster, more convenient and more secure. Users can switch to their account from another with the touch of a finger, eliminating password entry and additional menu navigation.

You’ve got to keep the little window clean. Naturally, each user leaves a fingerprint behind. The system is smart enough to ignore that leftover latent image when the next user comes along. But if you want to use this so the kids can play their games and not endanger your own documents and other files, you’d make sure those thumbs are free of peanut butter, maple syrup, and hot fudge residue. U.are.U won’t be happy.

I tried one experiment to fool U.are.U. I applied my fingerprint to a piece of plastic kitchen wrap and then placed it in the device’s window. That didn’t work. Thank goodness.

If all it did was save you from typing your Windows XP password, the U.are.U could be dismissed as a clever but frivolous accessory. But link it with its ability to serve all the users on your PC, and its talent for remembering the user names and passwords to your favorite Web sites, and you’ve got something truly useful. Reference Guide recommends the U.are.U fingerprint security system.<

Yeas & Nays


4Easy installation

4Every user with an account on your Windows XP computer can protect their logon and encrypt their files

4Uses your fingerprint to control access to Windows and to any Web site you visit

4No moving parts


4Hard to describe what it does in a few words

4You’ll still need to remember your passwords when logging onto Web sites from another computer

Just One Touch

The One Touch Crypto function lets you encrypt (scramble) and decrypt (unscramble) your personal files. To open a protected file, simply select the file and touch the sensor to verify your identity.



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