Hardware

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Microsoft Entertainment Desktop 7000

The problem with having a PC in your living room is simple. It’s the mouse. Mousing on the couch is a royal pain in the ass.

Resting your mouse hand on your leg, on a couch arm, or on one of your couch buddies just doesn’t work. That’s why we were excited to see that Microsoft’s new living-room keyboards ship with an integrated mousing surface. We just didn’t understand why the company also included a wireless mouse.

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Belkin Cable-Free USB Hub

When we heard about Belkin’s Cable-Free USB Hub, our first thought was, “Yes! Now we can move our iPod A/V dock next to our TV in the living room and still sync the player with iTunes on our PC in the den.” Ha! This device’s range is so poor it barely reaches across the room.

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Doghouse Electronics RoverTv Wide Screen

Doghouse Electronics’s RoverTv sits up and begs comparison to the Archos 604, which we named the best digital media player of 2006. But we found this dog just a bit mangy.

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Norco DS-500

If every other external enclosure we’ve reviewed has been a Chevy Nova, then Norco’s DS-500 external SATA storage, um, block is easily a Humvee. For this device not only performs solidly but also weighs as much as everyone’s favorite urban assault vehicle. And that’s before we stuffed five hard drives into it.

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SanDisk Sansa e280R Rhapsody

We liked almost everything about SanDisk’s Sansa e260 flash-memory digital media player when we reviewed it in November 2006, but we slapped it with a verdict of 5 because we activated its voice recorder every time we picked the damned thing up. The Sansa e280R fixes that problem and adds two more gigs of memory for good measure.

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Sony BWU-100A Blu-ray Drive

Most folks aren’t prepared to choose sides in the battle between Blu-ray and HD DVD—and who can blame ’em, given the scarcity of HD content and the exorbitant cost of drives and media. But for the gotta-have-it-now early adopters, Blu-ray remains the only next-gen disc you can burn. The HD DVD camp has yet to release a burner, while Sony’s BWU-100A marks the third Blu-ray burner we’ve reviewed in the last six months. And with each new model, we’re seeing improvements.

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