Hardware

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Sony LocationFree TV LF-B20

The LocationFree TV LF-B20 offers a number of improvements over Sony’s earlier video-streaming effort. A few of the new model’s features are superior to the Slingbox Pro’s, but this product is no match for Sling Media’s latest release.

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Sling Media Slingbox Pro

The original Slingbox was housed in a goofy ingot-shaped box. The Slingbox Pro is only slightly more attractive, but it’s eminently more capable. Unfortunately, you’ll need to spend one-third more than its $250 base price to enable some of its cooler features.

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Ultrasone iCans

Ultrasone’s iCans feature the same S-Logic technology that prompted us to name the company’s Proline 750 headphones to our 2006 Best of the Best list. However, as wonderful as they sound with an iPod, they can’t displace the Shure E4g earbuds in their respective Best of the Best category.

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Kingston Datatraveler Secure 4GB

Kingston’s DataTraveler Secure is billed as an “enterprise-grade” flash drive. Translated for civvies, that means 256-bit AES hardware encryption, an IPX8 waterproof rating, and a titanium shell. Oh yeah, and optimization for small files. While almost every key we’ve tested in the last few months choked on the 10,000 Word docs we feed them during testing, the DataTraveler Secure was able to write that onslaught of files in three minutes instead of the usual 20 minutes.

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Foxconn 975X7AB-8EKRS2H

It’s no secret that Nvidia had a heavy hand in designing Foxconn’s excellent AM2 Athlon 64/nForce 590 SLI board, but Foxconn’s Intel-powered 975X7AB-8EKRS2H board suffers for a lack of Nvidia-applied polish.

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SMC WSKP100

SMC’s Skype phone is proof positive that consumer electronics design in 2006 is largely inspired by the iPod. Shiny, white plastic design? Check. Rounded edges? Check. Flat face? Check. Poor user interface that frequently doesn’t work right, and a screen that sometimes shuts off at random? Oh wait, Apple’s products don’t have that.

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