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Technologies that Don't Disappoint
|by Jay Dougherty|
Some technology products can really improve your life, allowing you to work more productively or accomplish tasks that you couldn't before. Others just promise to fall into that category but ultimately lead you to question why you bothered.
The challenge for buyers, of course, is discerning the must-haves from the rest. While all new technologies these days vie for your attention, there are a few out there now that truly deserves it. Here's a rundown.
The 802.11n wireless transfer speeds are fast, very fast. If you get the right combination of wireless 802.11n router and PCI or notebook card, you can experience Internet speeds - and even file transfer speeds - that equal those that you'll get with a traditional wired network. That's a big deal.
It means that with an investment in 802.11n networking gear you can set up a home network capable of sharing large files and backing up entire computers to a storage device or dedicated backup machine.
Once you set yourself up with a home network that involves some wires, you'll quickly learn that it still takes too long to transfer large files or to back up your computer to an external device. Enter gigabit Ethernet.
The latest transmission standard has the potential to transfer data along wired networks at ten times the rate of the previous standard. While actual transfer rates are rarely that fast, gigabit Ethernet ports do substantially improve overall network transfer rates. If you're on a wired network or are buying PCs that will be part of one, look for gigabit Ethernet as part of the package.
At long last, the high-definition standards war between Sony's Blu-ray and Toshiba's HD-DVD is all but over. In case you haven't heard, the increasing momentum - and sales figures - of the Blu-ray high-definition standard recently forced Toshiba to throw in the towel, announcing a public withdrawal from the battle over standards.
That means that Blu-ray now reigns as the high-definition video standard that consumers will use for years to come. It also means that prices will begin coming down on Blu-ray players and that it's safe to purchase high-definition DVD players without fearing that your purchase will become obsolete any time soon.
Watching films and other video in high definition is a thrill, and it'll soon be a thrill that millions will get to experience for the first time.
In the operating system arena, Vista has gotten all of the attention, but it's not nearly as extraordinary as what has turned out to be Microsoft's best-kept secret: Windows Home Server.
Microsoft quietly rolled out Windows Home Server late last year, and to date relatively few know what it is. The idea behind this latest operating system is important - provide an operating system that will make it easy for tech-heavy households to back up all of their computers, access those computers while on the road, and share media - including music and photographs - easily among all connected PCs and notebooks.
For the most part, Windows Home Server just works - and well enough so that it deserves a place on your watch list.
There are some, though. Among them: a bug that can spell trouble for files that are nested in a folder structure that extends more than 260 characters and the inability to restore computers whose only attachment to the server is through a slower wireless connection.
But Windows Home Server solves more problems than it creates, and that's why, even at this early stage of its life, it's worth having.
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