If most of your printing is black text on white paper, it's time to look at Brother's HL-2040, a $120 low-profile printer. Its paper drawer holds 250 sheets and fits completely inside the unit, giving it a tidy look. It prints 20 pages per minute and produces the first page in about 10 seconds from a cold start.
High-Def In Your Lap
If you've been patiently waiting for a laptop that plays high-definition movies, it's getting closer. Toshiba's latest Qosmio A/V notebook PC is the first of its kind to support the high-def DVD format and Dolby Home Theater audio. Only problem is that it's not available quite yet. Price and availability coming soon.
If bringing a digital camera along when you travel means lugging a laptop for storing and viewing images, check out Digital Foci's small but powerful Picture Porter. Combining a hard drive, an LCD, and card slots that support 11 memory formats, this pocket-sized device holds music, files, and movies. A 20-Gbyte model will set you back $399; a 40-Gbyte version is $469.
No More Nagging
Tired of nagging your child to practice piano? The Piano Wizard Premier combines the fun of a video game with the fundamentals of lessons. Children choose from four fantasy worlds to play in, and they can change the speed, instrument sounds, and skill level. The $199.95 kit contains Piano Wizard Premier software, an M-Audio 49e MIDI piano keyboard, a USB cable to connect to your Windows PC, and stickers.
Because watching TV on tiny screens shouldn't be restricted to mobile phones, A.J. Prindle has given us the TV Watch. Catch live programming on a 1.5-inch TFT LCD screen. Stereo earphones double as an antenna. The $180 watch isn't bulky on the wrist, either, and lasts up to three hours on a charge.
Do you know if you're within range of a Wi-Fi hot-spot right now? The Canary Wireless Hotspotter digital scanner will tell you. Press the button on this $60 device and it searches for a Wi-Fi signal, then displays the network name, its strength, and the broadcast channel.
Music Lovers Only
For the latest version of its Squeezebox, which plays digital music from a PC on a stereo, Slim Devices amped up the digital and analog output circuitry for top-notch sound, including a 24-bit Burr-Brown digital-to-audio converter. Also new: a brushed-metal design and fluorescent display, rather than an LCD. The $299 player can run on an 802.11g wireless network, connecting to Internet radio and RSS feeds without a computer. A wired version is available for $249.
Backup Made Easy
Most of us know it's important to back up our photos, videos, and personal data, but few of us do it. Maxtor has tried to make the chore simpler at home, where tech-support people aren't so easy to reach. The OneTouch III external storage and backup package's new software tools help synchronize data among multiple computers, and a "system rollback" feature restores PCs and Macs to pre-spyware meltdown. The largest storage, 1 terabyte, costs $900; 500 Gbytes will run you $480.