We all know that slides can spruce up almost any presentation, whether to customers, investors, or employees, but at the rates charged by graphic-arts and production houses -- $25 to $60 per slide -- you might be tempted to go with cardboard and crayons. Enter the desk-top film recorder, a device that hooks up to a personal computer and lets you film your own slides for as little as 50? each. You simply set up the graphic on a computer screen, using widely available software, and then expose the images on film in the device. If you're pressed for time, you can use Polaroid film. For higher-quality slides, you're probably better off with standard 35-millimeter film. Either way, the process is fast, easy, and cheap.

There are several such machines on the market. You can find them at computer dealers and audiovisual equipment stores. The hardware generally runs $5,000 and up, and you can expect to spend anywhere from $100 to $800 for the graphics software. When you consider that production houses could charge $15,000 or more to produce a half-hour slide show, it's probably a pretty good bargain.