Best of 2004

At a Glance
Page 4 of 10

Bare Necessities

Operating System

Apple Mac OS X Panther 10.3

Apple Mac OS X Panther 10.3

Panther's sleek interface and reliable performance are impressive. Although we aren't suggesting that you ditch your hardware and buy a Mac, Apple deserves credit for raising the bar for OSs. And we hope Microsoft is paying attention as it works on the next Windows. $129

Input Device

Logitech DiNovo Media Desktop

Logitech DiNovo Media Desktop

Finally, devices that put some teeth into Bluetooth. This suite of Bluetooth-enabled keyboard, mouse, and MediaPad (similar to a number pad) combines elegant design with high-end functionality. The MediaPad sports a small LCD to show what's playing, and has buttons to control music and video. $250

Router/Gateway

Netgear WGT624 108 MBPS Wireless Firewall Router

Netgear WGT624 Wireless Firewall Router
Photograph: Wendi Nordeck

Hassle-free setup and swift performance--thanks to accelerated G technology that can push data at 108 megabits per second, twice the throughput rate of the 802.11g standard--distinguish the WGT624. But what really sold us are its generous security and privacy features. $85

Web Browser

Opera 7.23

An alternative browser without the bloat, according to Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group, Opera 7.23 is a fleet-footed package that provides innovative ways to view, analyze, and store Web pages. Opera's security options are strong and easy to configure. The beta for version 7.5 looks promising, too. Free ($39 without the ad banner)

E-Mail

Microsoft Office Outlook 2003

Some users might consider Outlook's cornucopia of features overkill, but this PIM's e-mail client is excellent, especially for the corporate set. Version 2003's spam filters kept out virtually all of our test junk mail. $85

Search Engine

Google

Other search engines are giving Google a run for its dominance, but so far none have surpassed it in accuracy and versatility. Free

Stand-Alone Utility

Novatix ExplorerPlus

ExplorerPlus puts Windows Explorer to shame, thanks to features such as built-in file viewers, data management tools, and horizontal or vertical multipane folder views. $40

Utility Suite

V Communications SystemSuite 5

SystemSuite 5 packs hardware diagnostics, an application uninstaller, a lost data rescuer, and other practical tools into one CD. But some of the apps are inferior versions of the company's stand-alone programs. $60

Personal Finance

Microsoft Money 2004 Premium

Money's free services (such as two years' worth of bill-pay service) and excellent finance tools make it a better choice than its perennial competitor, Intuit's Quicken. $80

Business Accounting

ACCPAC Simply Accounting 2004 Pro

A great price, a direct-deposit tool, and easy integration with Excel make Simply Accounting tough to beat. $99

At a Glance
| 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Page 4
Shop Tech Products at Amazon