10 great Wi-Fi gadgets for work and play

Add these Wi-Fi devices to your network for a new world of wireless productivity and entertainment
  • (Computerworld)
  • — 25 September, 2008 10:16
  • The Grace Wireless Internet Radio lets you listen to Internet radio shows, podcasts and music on your PC from anywhere in your Wi-Fi zone, providing a surprisingly rich and clear sound.
  • Left: The Eye-Fi Share card pops into any camera with an SD card slot and automatically beams your photos over your Wi-Fi network to your computer and/or to any of two dozen online photo services.

Right: If you're in the market for a new camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ50S sends your pictures wirelessly to Google's Picasa service.
  • The HP OfficeJet J4680 multifunction printer has a wireless print server built right in.
  • At $400, the Panasonic KX-WP1050 Wi-Fi phone for Skype is pricey, but coupled with one of Skype's inexpensive VoIP calling plans, it can save you money in the long run.
  • The eStarling WPF-388B digital photo frame uses Wi-Fi to pull photos off an online photo service, displaying them at a sharp 800-by-600 resolution.
  • The Linksys Wireless-G PTZ Internet Camera watches over your home or office without the hassle and expense of running video cables throughout the building. You can even pan and zoom it remotely.
  • The HP MediaSmart Connect x280n wirelessly connects your Windows Media Center PC to your HDTV, meaning you can surf the Web, watch online videos and listen to Internet radio on your TV.
  • The NEC NP905 wireless projector creates a vibrant 1024-by-768 image on the screen while freeing you from clumsy cables.

Wi-Fi SD card and camera: Beam up your snapshots

Eye-Fi Share card

Nobody likes wasting time fumbling with flash cards or cables to get photos out of a camera and onto a PC or online photo-sharing service. It's hard to believe, but a Wi-Fi network can help you put your pictures exactly where you want them.

The US$100 Eye-Fi Share card squeezes a Wi-Fi radio and 2GB of flash memory into a tiny Secure Digital (SD) card. Basically, it works with any camera that has an SD card slot and supports 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi equipment. After loading the software on my computer and entering my network's security code with my PC's keyboard, the card quickly connected with my Wi-Fi network; in all, it took 2 minutes.

Now, whenever I bring my Nikon D50 within 75 feet of my router, the photos are automatically transferred to either my PC or an online picture service -- or both. Eye-Fi's Manager software can forward the photos to any of two dozen online photo services, from Blue String to Web Shots. It takes about 7.5 seconds to move a 1.5MB photo. If I'm out of range, the Share card holds up to a thousand top-quality photos until it's close enough to transfer them.

If you're not interested in uploading photos to an online service, consider the Eye-Fi Home card, which costs US$80 and sends the images to a computer only.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ50S camera

If you're in the market for a new camera, Panasonic's US$400 Lumix DMC-TZ50S has it all. It's a capable camera that bypasses the PC and beams its photos over an 802.11b or g network, but rather than the choice of several online photo sites, it works only with Google's Picasa service.

The camera has a Leica 10X zoom lens, excellent automatic exposure and a 3-in. viewscreen. It can upload snapshots from a home or office router or a T-Mobile hot spot. (For the sake of security and battery life, I'd recommend turning off the Wi-Fi radio on the camera when you're not using it to send photos.)

Setting it up is more time consuming than with the Eye-Fi card because you'll need to enter your Wi-Fi network information, plus your Google Gmail account name and password with the camera's clumsy screen entry system; figure on spending a total of 20 minutes. Once set up, the camera moved a 1.5MB image to my Picasa Web photo album in 27 seconds.

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Brian Nadel

Computerworld
Topics: peripherals, Printers, WLAN, consumer electronics, personal storage, wireless, entertainment, digital cameras
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