Great Stuff for Your PC

At a Glance
  • Ceiva Logic Ceiva Digital Picture Frame

  • Auravision EluminX Illuminated Keyboard Black Case / Aquamarine Illumination (AuraVision-S00211)

  • Ahead Software NERO 6 ULTRA EDITION CD/DVD BURNING SUITE (Ahead Systems-160006)

  • Apple iPod - 3rd Gen. 20 GB MP3 Player (Apple-M9244LLA)

  • Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen Xtra 60GB MP3 Player (Creative Labs-70PD055000001)

  • Roxio Easy Media Creator 7 (Full Product) (Roxio-213100)

  • FireFly Lighted Keyboard

  • Auravision EluminX Illuminated Keyboard Black Case / Sapphire Illumination

  • Auravision EluminX Illuminated Keyboard silver Case / Aquamarine Illumination

  • Auravision EluminX Illuminated Keyboard Bone Case / Aquamarine Illumination

  • SanDisk 512MB Cruzer Titanium USB Flash Drive

  • Pacific Digital USB DIGITAL MEMORY FRAME 5.6 TFT W/ DIGITAL PIXMASTER

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Burning Down the House

Even with digital audio players, college kids--along with everyone else--still burn CDs and DVDs, and not only for entertainment. Some people rip songs to create dance party CDs, create videos for fun or for class, and edit music and photos. Others may even use them to back up their hard drive. If your student has a CD-R/RW or DVD+/-R/RW drive, he or she needs a good authoring suite.

The two leading contenders are Roxio's Easy Media Creator 7 and Ahead Software's Nero 6 Ultra Edition. Each lists for about $100 and can be bought for less. Either program will let you create and copy CDs and DVDs (only unprotected DVDs, which basically means none of the commercial ones), copy individual songs, write data discs (CD or DVD), create DVDs, back up your hard drive, or turn the CD/DVD drive into a big floppy drive that you can write to as you would any other drive.

Which one should you get? Nero recently earned a PC World Best Buy, and the package was awarded 3.5 stars. Easy Media Creator 7 wasn't available in time for testing for this comparative review, but in a later review, it earned an impressive 4 stars. My advice: There's a good chance your CD drive, or your PC, came bundled with an older, incomplete OEM version of one or the other. Stick with the one you know, and check to see if an upgrade to the full current version is available.

Know a Lot About History

But enough fun. College students have work to do. And an up-to-date copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica will help them do it. Thanks to CD-ROMs and the Internet, this huge, expensive set of books is now a small, inexpensive gift. Britannica sells several electronic versions. The $50 Britannica Deluxe Edition 2004 CD-ROM is a good choice for your college student (it costs $35 after rebate). This two-CD set contains the complete encyclopedia (the Standard Edition CD is slightly abridged), about 8000 "Year in Review" articles from the last decade, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, an atlas, plus historical articles by Sigmund Freud, Marie Curie, and other people your college student has hopefully heard of.

Alternately, you can shell out $60 for a one-year subscription to the online edition. This version adds two shorter, easier encyclopedias to the big one, plus a database of magazines and journals, annotated links to useful Web sites, and more.

At a Glance
  • Ceiva Logic Ceiva Digital Picture Frame

  • Auravision EluminX Illuminated Keyboard Black Case / Aquamarine Illumination (AuraVision-S00211)

  • Ahead Software NERO 6 ULTRA EDITION CD/DVD BURNING SUITE (Ahead Systems-160006)

  • Apple iPod - 3rd Gen. 20 GB MP3 Player (Apple-M9244LLA)

  • Creative Nomad Jukebox Zen Xtra 60GB MP3 Player (Creative Labs-70PD055000001)

  • Roxio Easy Media Creator 7 (Full Product) (Roxio-213100)

  • FireFly Lighted Keyboard

  • Auravision EluminX Illuminated Keyboard Black Case / Sapphire Illumination

  • Auravision EluminX Illuminated Keyboard silver Case / Aquamarine Illumination

  • Auravision EluminX Illuminated Keyboard Bone Case / Aquamarine Illumination

  • SanDisk 512MB Cruzer Titanium USB Flash Drive

  • Pacific Digital USB DIGITAL MEMORY FRAME 5.6 TFT W/ DIGITAL PIXMASTER

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