Hardware

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Shure SE530PTH Earphones

For the price of one set of Shure’s SE530PTH earphones, you could buy two 30GB iPods, 17 sets of Apple earbuds, or 500 encrypted songs from iTunes. A worthy investment or Marie Antoinette­–style consumption? With that question in mind, we couldn’t resist auditioning these pricey phones to the sound of Cake’s Fashion Nugget, ripped and FLAC-encoded, on Cowon’s D2 digital media player. We don’t know if Shure’s BOM (bill of materials) justifies a $500 price tag, but we did have awfully big smiles on our faces after using these earphones.

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Accolade Duet Projection Screen

Your current video projector has a 4:3 aspect ratio, but you’re planning to move up to a high-def model with a 16:9 aspect ratio next year. In the meantime, you need to replace your projection screen, which your two-year-old recently mistook for an artist’s canvas. Quite the pickle, eh?

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Genius HS-04U

The Genius HS-04U plugs into your PC’s USB port, instead of your soundcard’s analog speaker output and mic input, so it bypasses any EAX or OpenAL audio effects that game developers might have painstakingly programmed into the software. What you get instead—after installing a driver—is what Genius calls “Virtual Dolby.”

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TheBoom Quiet

We generally don’t like headphones that use active-noise cancellation because these devices mask external noise by producing noise of their own. But we decided to make an exception for theBoom Quiet because of the lofty promises the company makes for its noise-canceling mic.

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Cowon D2

Cowon provides a wealth of choice where SanDisk sets severe limits: The D2 supports not only MP3, WMA, and secure WMA, but also OGG, FLAC, and even WAV.

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SanDisk Sansa Connect 4GB

Microsoft’s idea of letting people share their favorite songs using a wireless connection was as botched in execution as it was brilliant in conception. SanDisk’s Sansa Connect makes much more sense, although it requires users who want to share to cough up the $12- to $15-per-month subscription fee for Yahoo’s Music Unlimited to Go service.

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