Cool Wireless Stuff

Computerworld staffers select some favorite wireless devices.

Sure, mobile devices make us more productive and offer help in emergencies. And using them beats 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 to editor@computerworld.com.

  • T-Mobile Sidekick II

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

    Vendor: T-Mobile USA Inc., www.t-mobile.com/shop/phones

    T-Mobile Sidekick II
    Why we like it: What doesn't my Sidekick do? The alarm function goes off, and I glance at the weather and Google News while I'm waking up (not sad little mobile-phone versions of the sites, either; the Sidekick's browser can handle almost any regular page you throw at it). I can also use it to 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. At night, I'm probably playing a game or updating my list of the books I've read over the past five years, which I imported from my last PDA through the Web interface. I've used it in stores to do Web research about stuff I was thinking of buying. And once or twice I've used it as a phone when I was in a pinch.

    Drawbacks: Battery life isn't spectacular. And it's best as only an emergency phone.

    Price: $350 list ($249 with rebate). The monthly service data-only plan with unlimited data is $35 a month; phone calls are 20 cents a minute.

    Who it's best for: Anyone who doesn't mind carrying a gadget made famous by Paris Hilton.

    Recommended by: Angela Gunn, Security channel editor

  • Verizon Broadband Wireless Access
    Verizon Broadband Access Card
    What it is:
    Nationwide high-speed Internet access, unplugged

    Vendor: Verizon Wireless, www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/ mobileoptions/broadband/index.jsp

    Why we like it: It lets you get on the Internet wirelessly just about anywhere - and at broadband speed. If you travel, you won't have to pay hot-spot charges or plug into a hotel's network and pay $10 a day in broadband fees. And since the Verizon card is running on the cellular network, you don't have any Wi-Fi security concerns.

    Drawbacks: It's a little pricey.

    Price: $60 a month

    Who it's best for: Road warriors.

    Recommended by: Julia King, executive editor, events; Patrick Thibodeau, reporter

  • SynCh Universal Sync Charger
    SynCh Universal Sync Charger
    What it is:
    A single device that can charge many wireless gadgets and also has a USB connection for data transfer

    Vendor: Malleable Devices Inc., www.mpowerproducts.com/synch.htm

    Why we like it: A gadget geek with an iPod, Treo, Bluetooth headset and digital camera has to haul around a lot of cords in order to rejuice all those devices. Malleable Devices says the SynCh "works with virtually all of today's most popular cell phones, music players, PDAs and thousands of other devices" -- you just need the correct "mTip" connectors. And it'll run off a wall outlet, car cigarette lighter or computer USB port.

    Drawbacks: Each time you get a new device, you'll likely need to order a new mTip so the SynCh will charge that device. It's only compatible with fourth-generation or later iPods. Camera options seem somewhat limited.

    Price: $39.95, including charger, USB car adapter and USB travel adapter; $26.95 for charger only. MTips are approximately $6.95 each.

    Who it's best for: Gadgeteers who frequently travel with lots of devices.

    Recommended by: Lucas Mearian, Storage channel editor

  • Logitech LX 300 Keyboard and Mouse
    Logitech LX 300 Keyboard and Mouse

    What it is: RF wireless keyboard and mouse that work with both PCs and Macs

    Vendor: Logitech Inc., www.logitech.com

    Why we like it: Wired keyboards are a pain. Bluetooth devices require too many batteries, if you don't remember to turn them off. And who's been trained to turn off their keyboard? Get real. RF is ideal for keyboards and mice. And Logitech 's are among the best in the business. They work flawlessly with both PCs and Macs, although they were designed for PCs.

    Drawbacks: I have to unplug the USB connector from the PC to plug it into the Mac, and vice versa.

    Price: $59.95

    Who it's best for: Everyone.

    Recommended by: Mark Hall, editor at large

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