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.
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.
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.
If you read our original review of the X-Fi way back in November 2005, you already know about this card. Back then, Creative packaged this exact same card with a drive bay and remote and charged an impossible to justify $280 for the X-Fi Fatal1ty FPS soundcard.
We’ll get the bad news out of the way first. Hitachi’s Deskstar T7K500 hard drive, with an easy-to-remember 500GB of storage, is unremarkable. More than that, it underperforms when compared to similarly featured, similarly priced (if not cheaper!) products.
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.
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.