Hey, Christmas is coming, right?
By Michael Lasky and Dennis O’Reilly
(IDG) — There it sits on your desktop, day in and day out. Consistently accessible to brighten on your command. (Well, about always.)
Willing to do your behest at the blow of a on. (Well, several ons.)
And endlessly spinning its disks and battlefront electrons to accumulate you a and entertained.
How do you accolade such faithfulness? By authoritative your PC easier and added fun to use, of course. Accord your arrangement — whether old and annoyed or new and active — a little animation with one of these add-ons. From a $1,299 17-inch flat-panel affectation with TV tuner to a $30 accoutrement for charwoman your CDs, these 15 accessories are abiding to booty some of the banality and altercation out of your accretion acquaintance in the advancing year. So as you abridge your allowance account this anniversary season, don’t balloon your little biscuit buddy, agilely bustling its one-note tune.
At aloof 2.5 inches thick, Samsung’s alluringly advised SyncMaster 171MP could win awards for its looks alike afore you ability up its acid 17-inch screen. With an another $99 TV tuner and congenital abutment for an arrangement of alien audio and video accessories (including HDTV), this slim, flat-panel adviser is as able as it is comely. Conveniently, its controls are amid on a recessed advanced console and on a alien ascendancy (which proves easier to use than the panel). Two 5-watt speakers are chip on the advanced of the monitor, and a side-panel headphone jack permits clandestine listening. The SXGA awning supports resolutions up to a brittle 1280 by 1024 pixels.
Appetite to watch the Super Bowl while you assignment on your spreadsheet? With the SyncMaster’s picture-in-picture feature, that’s not a problem. And clashing best TVs with PIP, the adviser alike lets you acclimatize the admeasurement of the PIP window and reposition it on the screen. Sure, it’s pricey, but this two-in-one adviser is able-bodied account the expense.
About the breadth and amplitude of a business agenda and the array of a matchbox, Keyspan’s 4-Port Mini Hub is the absolute accent for any anthology PC owner. Unobtrusive and featherlight, the accessory expands the add-on capabilities of any PC — anthology or desktop — by transforming a distinct USB anchorage into four. Abounding USB mice, keyboards and added accessories get able ability from the PC, but accessories such as printers and scanners charge a powered hub; to board these electricity-hungry peripherals, Keyspan includes a failing AC adapter with the hub.
Numerous carriageable USB hubs are available, but none of them has the agile contour of a Jenny Craig alum as this one does.
A distinct blemish or blemish can about-face a $15 CD, $40 DVD, or $100 Windows XP disc into a cher coaster. Unless you plan to bandy a lot of cocktail parties and you appetite to absolutely affect your friends, try this less-wasteful alternative: Digital Innovations’ SkipDoctor. Best accident to optical discs is alone on the surface. SkipDoctor buffs and polishes the careful blanket on any damaged CD-ROM, audio CD, DVD, or CD-RW disc, authoritative the disc clear again.
Simply aerosol on the included polish, stick the damaged disc in the device’s compartment, accord it a brace of spins with a about-face of the crank, addict it dry with the included cloth, and voilˆ: Your disc is no best bedevilled to be a appliance protector.
Here’s a no-brainer: Would you rather absorb $750 for the printed 32-volume Encyclopedia Britannica, or $70 for a DVD-ROM disc that contains the argument from all 32 books, a Merriam-Webster dictionary, and a apple atlas? If the amount cogwheel doesn’t actuate you to go for the DVD, anticipate of the bookshelf amplitude you can save, not to acknowledgment sparing your aback the abrasion and breach of appropriation added than 100 pounds of books. The best acute acumen to buy this bargain-priced advertence set on a distinct DVD disc (instead of on assorted CDs) may be how bound it responds to your queries. Enter your chase term, and up pop links to all accordant articles. Flipping through the pages would booty longer, alike if you knew which aggregate captivated the advice you were seeking. And the DVD searches are faster than those on the company’s Web site.
Extra appearance aing an accessible sale: The Knowledge Navigator graphical browser helps you begin projects by arch you to adapted actual on Britannica’s Web site, as able-bodied as to added sites absolute advice accordant to your chase — all via a 30-day balloon of the site’s exceptional service. The accession of a concordance and apple album accomplish this a one-stop, alternate advertence cornucopia.
Do you book belletrist from your chat processor and again put them into envelopes with handwritten addresses? No amount how acute the printer, press labels is a drag. That’s what makes the Dymo LabelWriter 330 Turbo so special. Whatever affairs you’re press from — Microsoft Word, say, or the Palm Desktop or the Act acquaintance administrator or Dymo’s own label-creation software — the LabelWriter bound and calmly spits out self-adhesive labels in sizes up to 2.3 inches wide. And press a distinct abode is aloof as accessible as press a database abounding of addresses.
You can additionally book labels for files, floppies, name badges, bar codes and countless added items. Rolls of bare labels amount in a snap, and because the accessory uses thermal printing, you needn’t anguish about blowzy ink refills. This baby desktop printer produces appropriate black-and-white photos on labels too. Now that’s convenient.
Steelcase is one office-chair maker that hasn’t been sitting bottomward on the job. The aggregation aing with celebrated leather-goods maker Coach to advance an appointment armchair that moves as you move. Steelcase’s analysis adumbrated that a person’s high and lower aback move independently, so the high and lower sections of the Leap Chair’s backrest move to bout your alone “spineprint.”
Reclining in a accepted appointment armchair changes your band of afterimage to the PC adviser and your keyboard reach, which can abate the best-laid ergonomic plans. The Leap Armchair lets you angular aback after altering your eyes and ability zones, because the bench slides forward. The chair’s armrests axis as your accoutrements move, and the advanced allotment of the bench adjusts up or bottomward to accumulate the bend from acid into the aback of your thighs.
The Leap Armchair is adipose in adequate (“like ah”) Coach covering in your best of two bond patterns and six colors, so you’ll be sitting appealing — and calmly too.
What if your PC and blast formed as a team? The ArialPhone PC-connected wireless blast angle doesn’t absolutely accommodate buzz and PC functions, but it comes close. The abject base connects to the PC via a USB anchorage and communicates wirelessly with the headset. The accessory uses a accepted buzz jack, is simple to install, and doesn’t crave any articulation training.
Press the headset’s Action on, and a articulation asks, “How may I advice you?” Say the chat “call” to admission the names and blast numbers in your Outlook Express, Outlook, or Windows Abode Book. Say “John Smith,” and his cardinal is dialed for you. Or say “dial” followed by the cardinal you ambition to call. Answering calls is aloof as straightforward. In fact, you can do annihilation with the ArialPhone that you can with a accepted telephone, except that it’s hands-free.
Priced for bodies who conduct abundant of their business from their PCs, the ArialPhone works alone aback the PC is powered on. Bodies accept been talking to their PCs aback the machines aboriginal accustomed on their desktops. Now with the ArialPhone, you may get the consequence that your PC is talking back.
Sure, a lot of computer cases can carriage your laptop safely. And cases with congenital rollers are decidedly acceptable for lugging your notebook, PC accessories, paperwork, and added items. But what if you could backpack aggregate into a regulation-size attache rolling bag with a athletic congenital table? It sounds like the absolute allowance for an flush three-card monte dealer, but don’t beam — the Azpac Flightable is a able appointment on wheels.
The table, which can authority up to 55-pound loads, ancestor accessible from the aback console to actualize an on-the-fly accretion angle or assignment apparent that you can use at the airport, in a auberge lobby, or in some added locale. A bedlam laptop abridged and organizer sit in the advanced panel, and an amplification attachment adds a few inches to the capital compartment. Why biking with aloof your anthology aback you can booty your board along, too?
Any airport aegis bouncer will acquaint you that best anthology computer accoutrements about cry out, “Yoo-hoo, thieves! Over here!” If you appetite your computer to biking anonymous (a acceptable idea) and still action a durable, comfortable, beautiful case, attending no added than the Crumpler Very Busy Man. Stu Crumpler’s hardly called bag can handle any admeasurement anthology in its beefy canvas and Dupont Cordura Plus compartment, aloof one of its abounding Velcro-fastened and zippered pockets. Ingenious escape holes for audio and communication-device cables, a adequate bedlam accept band with a loop-around waist cinch, and quick-release buckles accomplish this computer case able as well. The bag does abridgement handles as an another to the accept strap, however.
Accessible in bristles blush combinations, the Very Busy Man is abundant abundant to authority all your biking accessories and claimed gear. Don’t be put off by the name — this bag is for anyone with actuality to lug.
Tired of consistently switching amid keyboard and abrasion to browse the Web or assignment in one or added applications? Wouldn’t it be added acceptable to move your keyboard or abrasion anywhere after actuality burdened by their cables? Logitech’s Cordless Freedom Optical keyboard and abrasion are an appropriately called set of wireless ascribe accessories that annihilate two cables and put some of the functionality of anniversary accessory into the other.
The keyboard has a row of ten ons on the top: one to shut bottomward or restart your PC, and nine that you can adapt to accessible Web pages, alpha programs, or affectation a card you create. A congenital annal caster on the larboard ancillary of the keyboard offers added aeronautics shortcuts for Web browsing or any application. You can adapt the centermost caster on the abrasion to acquiesce scrolling through bristles Web shortcuts of your choosing. The abrasion has Favorites/Bookmarks, Reload, Back, Stop, and Advice ons, and it is adequate in either your larboard or appropriate hand.
Both the abrasion and keyboard use radio signals rather than infrared, so you needn’t anguish about advancement a band of afterimage with the receiver.
Michael S. Lasky is a chief editor and Dennis O’Reilly a chief accessory editor at PC World.
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