Here's a recipe for a computer cocktail: Take one desktop computer, two monitors, two keyboards, two mouses (mice?), two humans and one Vega Buddy System. Hook them all together, and you get two users simultaneously running applications, sharing peripherals and surfing the Net from one machine. The Buddy-rigged monitor can be up to 50 feet away from the shared computer. Included is Vega's concurrency software, a VGA card, a 15-foot cable and a connector box. Windows 95/98, 16MB RAM and minimum 100 MHz processor are required.
Street price: $149
It's the case of the incredible shrinking iMac. Reduced down to portable tangerine or blueberry glory, Apple's iBook will probably clash with every piece of clothing you have . . . and look good doing it. A 300 MHz G3 processor, 32MB RAM, a 3.2GB hard drive and a 24X CD-ROM drive add some muscle. On the communications end, a 56 Kbps modem and 10/100 BASE-T Ethernet are built-in. An optional AirPort card ($99) and AirPort Base Station ($299) make wireless Internet surfing possible within 150 feet of the station. Oh, yeah.
Street price: $1,599
More spacious than a floppy, compatible with more PCs than a Zip disk, recordable CD-ROMs are a flexible storage solution. Each CD holds up to 650MB of data or 74 minutes of music. TEAC's 8X24 CD-Recorder drive gets you burning disks at a mighty fast 8X and reads at 24X. Available in both an internal model that requires installation and a more expensive external model, the SCSI connection means speedy data transfers. The Windows 95/98/NT software package includes Adaptec Direct CD, Easy CD Creator and CD Copier Deluxe. A 4MB buffer makes for smooth, error-free CD writing.
Street price: $449 (internal), $549 (external)
Itchy and Scratchy
It's bad enough to have a CD skip and drop out in your car stereo. When it's a CD-ROM in your computer, it's even worse. But scratches don't have to mean the end of the line for your favorite disk. The Memorex CD Radial Cleaning Kit comes with nonabrasive solutions and wipes to "heal" the scratches and put your CDs and DVDs back into fighting trim. It's certainly a lot cheaper than replacing them all.
CD radial cleaning Kit
Street price: $9.99
Notebook computers are so dang handy--except for the lack of a number pad. If number-crunching on the go has got you down, Genovation makes the Micropad 633 (not shown). The 633 plugs in through a serial port interface, but USB (Micropad 631) and PS/2 (Micropad 632) models are also available. It's just like a standard 18-key number pad on a regular full-sized keyboard, but portable. (Lefties might consider putting it to use in a desktop environment.)
Street price: $49.99
Multiple computers and just one cable or ADSL modem are a problem. Who gets the great Internet speeds? Let's not fight over it. Arescom offers the EZ Rider Pro to help divvy up the cake. The literature calls it an "Ethernet-to-Ethernet Router-Hub." That's a lot of hyphens for such a compact device. It allows for unlimited users to share one cable or ADSL modem line with only one IP address. The included Router Manager software requires Windows 95/98/NT 4.0, but Macs can also be hooked up to the system.
EZ Rider Pro
Street price: $400