Television technology has exploded in recent years, and nowhere is this more obvious than with high definition TV. If you’re opting for HDTV, you ought to combine it with a big screen. Plasma and LCD sets offer impressive viewing quality in sizes once reserved for rear-projection systems. Both are flat units that can either sit on a stand or mount on a wall, freeing up floor space. Plasma images are more like film, while LCD offers a brighter picture. Below, the 50-inch plasma Gateway GTW-P50M203, which sells for about $6,000.
Stay connected with one of the new smart phones that combine voice and Internet with PDA capabilities. Where previous models were bulky, these offer a good balance of usability and size. The Nokia 6820 ($500) has a numeric pad that flips open, revealing a keyboard. Samsung has the SPH-i500 ($600), a lightweight clamshell that’s also a Palm organizer, with more than 4 hours of talk time from Sprint. Verizon’s SPHi700 ($600) is more of a full-sized PDA that doubles as a phone. And if you’re a Blackberry fanatic, the 7200 series ($300) offers full-color models with phones built in.
While on the road, you might as well travel in style. In a laptop, you want the greatest number of functions in the most portable, attractive package. Hewlett-Packard’s Pavilion zd7000, top left, ($2,843 fully loaded), packs a punch in terms of computing power, thanks to a 60GB hard drive and 1GB RAM. Its 17-inch screen enables you to zoom through a spreadsheet with little horizontal scrolling or, if you need a break, to watch a DVD or TV (with an optional tuner). At 9.3 pounds, though, it isn’t exactly petite. For lean and mean, try the IBM ThinkPad X (3.6 pounds), bottom left. Among other things, it offers up to five hours of battery time on certain models ($1,349 to $1,679 direct from IBM).
There’s a world of options for home audio systems, from high-end stereo to surround sound. To fully appreciate your finest recordings, you need top-notch speakers. And if you have a home theater, you want surround sound to complete the experience. You could start positioning speakers all over the room or you could take a simpler approach with the Niro 1.1 PRO speakers ($799), which come with a combination stereo tuner and DVD/CD player. They provide surround sound with only two speakers. The sound is rich and full no matter where you sit.