Belkin’s N1 router looks gorgeous, and the company has put a lot of thought into making it easy for greenhorns to build a home network, but the N1 was the slowest in this field and it delivered very poor range.
You can never have too much speed or too much storage, and the Linksys WRT350N makes it easy to have both. This router took first place while running in 802.11n-only mode and second place while running in mixed 802.11b/g/n mode. And its Storage Link feature enables you to plug in any USB storage device to add NAS functionality—the only router in this roundup to offer such a feature.
We’ve long admired Microsoft’s Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000; its combination of a downward tilting typing surface and a split layout is the perfect salve for our aching wrists. But we aren’t as fond of the Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000, which is unfortunate, as the devices are paired in one bundle for the weak-wristed.
We weren’t surprised that the “U” in Yamaha’s NX-U10 portable speaker system stands for “USB,” but we were taken aback to discover that these tiny speakers can tap a USB port for power as well as digital audio.
If we were dating the Western Digital My Book Home Edition, the sordid, brief affair would quickly end with one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” conversations. This 1TB enclosure is like the girl (or guy) who keeps calling and texting and e-mailing and IMing and calling and texting again—every time you connect the device to your PC, you get the same annoying application installation window over and over and over.
We’ve seen various USB transfer devices over the years, and for the most part they’ve been clunky and sloooow. Not so with Data Drive Thru’s Tornado, which blew into our Lab and impressed the hell out of us. Essentially a coiled, flat USB 2.0 cable that retracts into a plastic housing, the Tornado works by plugging into the Hi-Speed USB ports of two PCs running a newer Windows OS (Millennium, 2000, XP, or Vista). A basic file-transfer application executes from a bit of flash memory in the device, which allows you to simply drag and drop files between the two rigs. Similar cables from other companies force you to install software to transfer files.