Cool Wireless Stuff

Some favorite wireless products nominated by Computerworld's staff

Sure, mobile devices make us more productive, offer help in emergencies and are lots more convenient than being tethered to an outlet. But the best wireless devices are also FUN. Maybe it's because they're cool to look at, or perhaps it's that they're enjoyable to use. But practical isn't enough for the road warrior/gadgeteer.

Here are some favorite wireless products (and services) nominated by Computerworld's staff. If you've got recommendations of your own, send them in to




Internet Service




Roku SoundBridge Network Music Player

What it is: The SoundBridge plays digital music files streamed wirelessly anywhere in your house, and it's both PC- and Mac-compatible. It also plays Internet radio stations.

Why we like it: Easy setup, and it works with iTunes.

Drawbacks: None

Price: Two models are available. The M1000 sells for $199 and the M500 for $149. The M1000 has a more detailed display.

Who it's best for: Music aficionados who also have wireless connections. (Those who don't can connect their routers to it for Internet radio playback.)

Recommended by: Ken Mingis, online news editor

Sonos Digital Music System


What it is: A digital music system that lets you play all your digital music, all over your house, and control it all with one stylish remote.

Why we like it: It's simple to configure, the units are stylish, and the single remote control can access music in any room (from any room).

Drawbacks: A little pricey, and the device still can't play iTunes ACC-protected music (no non-Apple device can).

Price: Two-zone players with remote start at $1,199. Each additional zone is $499.

Who it's best for: Someone with a lot of rooms and the desire to easily network their music anywhere in (or outside of) their home.

Recommended by: Thomas Pimental, audience development manager



What it is: Handheld mobile communications device

Why we like it: More than one CW executive appears to be addicted to his "CrackBerry." Fans say it's a great mobile e-mail device, making it especially appealing if e-mail is an important means of corporate communication. "Formatting and ease of use are 100% better than Treo," says one enthusiast.

Drawbacks: Poor phone capabilities relative to the Treo.

Price: Varies

Who it's best for: Road warriors who need to see who's e-mailing them.

Recommended by: M. William Hanck, account director

Samsung A900


What it is: Slender, Web-enabled multimedia mobile phone

Why we like it: Samsung's answer to the Razr (it's even informally nicknamed "Blade") definitely scores on the cool factor. Just 0.6-in. thick, this sleek, elegant flip phone can surf the Web, play music and show video. The 240 x 320 display is pretty crisp. The A900 will impress if you pull it out in front of folks who settled for their free or $49.99 low-cost phones.

Drawbacks: Sprint's "high-speed" Web service for the phone isn't quite as snappy as one might like. The 1.3 megapixel camera, while decent, is unexceptional. And taking, viewing and sharing photos certainly does drain the battery fairly quickly.

Price: $349 without service plan, $139 with new Sprint account

Recommended by: Sharon Machlis, online managing editor

Sidekick II


What it is: Net access device / PDA / sub-sub-subnotebook / alarm clock / games machine / emergency phone

Why we like it: What doesn't my Sidekick do in my world? The alarm function goes off; this week it's set to play the Sopranos theme, last week it was merengue, next week I'm sure I'll have downloaded something else. I glance at the weather and Google News while I'm waking up (not on some sad little mobile-phone versions of the sites, either; the Sidekick's browser can handle almost any regular page you throw at it). If I'm not near my usual computers for the first part of the morning, I log onto AIM and check two e-mail accounts.

During the day I'm checking its address book for contacts, and adding and subtracting items from my to-do and shopping lists. I've even found myself filing articles from the Skick -- not perfect, but I'd like to see you try it with a regular mobile phone or even a CrackBerry. At night I'm probably playing a game or updating my list of books I've read over the past five years -- I imported that list from my last PDA through the superuseful Web interface. A few evenings ago I used it at a baseball game to send a "guess-where-I-am" photo and e-mail to my brother. I've also used it to "show" friends apartments I've looked at or stuff I was considering in stores. And yes, once or twice I've been in a pinch and needed to use it as a phone.

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