12 Gadgets That Let You Ditch Power Cords, Wires, and Hassles
HP Officejet 6500 Wireless
Printers are big and bulky, so why not hide them out of sight? The HP Officejet 6500 Wireless is a reliable and affordable multifunction model that need not reside beside your PC or router. Priced around $200, this bulky Officejet features built-in 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, and is well-suited for home or small-office use. Just think of all the desktop space you'll free up ...for more junk.
Apple Time Capsule: Wireless Onsite Backup
Chalk one up for the Mac side. The Apple Time Capsule is a cordless backup system that combines a wireless router and hard drive in a slim box. Using 802.11n Wi-Fi, Time Capsule automatically makes a copy of all files on your Mac, although Apple recommends that you use a cable for your first backup. (Those inaugural backups can be marathon sessions, and a wired connection gets the job done faster.) Time Capsule has plenty of storage capacity too: The two-terabyte version costs $499; the 1TB model is $299.
Peel-and-Stick Wireless Cams
Surveillance cameras suffer two big drawbacks: They're hard to mount where you want them, and most models require plugging into a wall socket, which is invariably nowhere nearby. One company, Avaak, says that it has come up with a solution, a peel-and-stick video camera system called Vue.
The cameras themselves are about as good as a mediocre Webcam, but what's great about them is that they run on powerful batteries that can last one year, according to the company. Avaak states that it estimates the one-year battery life based on "normal use"--but the company conveniently doesn't define what "normal use" is. Though you can't recharge the Vue batteries, you can replace them for under $10.
Truly wire-free, these little cams can stick nearly anywhere within a 300-foot radius of the base. The Vue wireless surveillance camera kit costs $300 and includes the base unit and two video cameras. Add-on Vue cameras cost $99 each, and the Vue service charges $20 a year for access to a password-protected Web site (one year of complimentary service is included with purchase).
Big Storage in a Small Package
The line between beefy external hard drives and sleek USB thumb drives is blurring, and nowhere is that more apparent than in Western Digital's new My Passport Essential external hard drives. WD says that these new models--which come in 320GB ($99), 500GB ($149), and 640GB capacities--are 20 percent smaller than previous My Passport Essential portable drives. Measuring 0.6 by 3.0 by 4.3 inches and requiring no external power source, these drives are definitely shirt-pocket-friendly and ready to travel.
The drives come with Western Digital built-in backup software called WD Smartware, and they support up to 256-bit hardware encryption for locking down your data. Except for the 640GB version, the new My Passport Essential models are available now.
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(PC World's Tom Spring contributed to this report.)