I'm about to come into a good amount of money. I want to ENHANCE my computing experience with gadgets abound. Help!
July 12, 2007 10:50 AM   Subscribe

I'm about to come into a good amount of money. I want to ENHANCE my computing experience with gadgets abound. Help!

I'm looking for little gadgets and upgrades I can use to enhance my experience. So far I've looked into the following:

StarTech.com ST7200USB i.Connect 7 Port USB 2.0 Hub
Plantronics DSP-500 Headset (I'm not sure whether to go for the used 500 or the new 400, as i understand it 500 is a tad bit better)

So anyway--what sort of other devices should I be on the prowl for? I have a few memory sticks so I'm good for that. My friend suggested a usb fingerprint lock.

I'm not looking for anything that's like POWERED BY A NUCLEAR REACTOR and can bomb small countries. I'm thinking mostly <100$ items that just rock the hizzy.

posted by Lockeownzj00 to Computers & Internet (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: PS they can be upgrades to existing equipment, too, like a more slick keyboard or mouse. i do play pc games quite a bit so that might be something to keep in mind. in general i'm a power user.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 10:55 AM on July 12, 2007

Well, do you have a backup hard drive and backup software running on some sort of schedule?

That's BY FAR the best use of a hundred dollars or so, if you want to enhance your computing experience.
posted by bshort at 10:56 AM on July 12, 2007

ThinkGeek.com has everything you want. Rip your old LPs directly to MP3. Keep your coffee warm. Or yes, even bomb small countries.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:04 AM on July 12, 2007

Seconding the backup thing.

Alternately: Model M keyboard. Laser mouse. Sound card. Also, I think this USB hub is kinda neato.
posted by box at 11:05 AM on July 12, 2007

Third the backup...they are important. I think the Powersquid is neat if you have a lot of power bricks.
posted by mmascolino at 11:11 AM on July 12, 2007

webcams are fun for video conferencing with friends over aim. if you like old video games, get a gametap account and a usb xbox controller for windows. I'm a big fan of pc remotes that let you control windows media player and media center through a standard tv style remote control. bluetooth dongles for your pc will allow you to synch your bluetooth capable phone to your outlook address book. dvd burners are fun.
posted by shmegegge at 11:23 AM on July 12, 2007

How's your mouse? I just purchased a treat for myself, a Logitech MX Revolution, and whoa is it ever a nice mouse, far better than the piece of crud one I had before!
posted by Meagan at 11:23 AM on July 12, 2007

Get yourself an iPhone or other mobile platform that will let you check your email and favorite websites wherever you are.
posted by chrisamiller at 11:26 AM on July 12, 2007

Get an entirely separate low-power computer (like a Kurobox, or just a SFF PC), and set it up as a backup server. Stash it near your internet gateway / router. Put it on a UPS.

If you're using a decent *NIX-ish OS, you can just use rsync to back up to it. Otherwise, get some good automatic backup software.

The day you need it, a good backup plan will pay for itself many, many times over. (Double points if you actually put your backup box at a friend's house or something.)

Oh, and Model M keyboards rock. But they're more of a typing/programming thing, I don't know how one would be for gaming.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:57 AM on July 12, 2007

I'm very fond of my Kensington Expert Mouse, which is actually a trackball with a large ball. I've been using one, in one form or another, as a mouse replacement since the early 1990's and would not compute without it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:05 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

My favorite item by far over the past year is the Logitech diNovo keyboard. It's wireless and has a touchpad (like those on laptops) so it has totally freed me from using a mouse at home; I can just kick back in my chair and surf away. Uses a rechargeable battery which lasts a couple of weeks, and looks very cool too.

If you use a Bluetooth headset with your computer (for Skype or any other voice stuff) I'd pick up a Jawbone. I've owned a lot of headsets but they all had various flaws, so I asked for recommendations on MeFi and the Jawbone got the most votes by a long shot. Thus far (I've only had it a few weeks) I'm in complete agreement - best headset I've had.
posted by jjsonp at 12:23 PM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm a big fan of pc remotes that let you control windows media player and media center through a standard tv style remote control.

Oh wow, this is a great idea. I've been wanting something like this for all the media I watch for a long time now. Thanks.

I already have extra PCs. I've been meaning to set them up as...anything for a long time. As soon as I get a monitor I'll do that.

Thanks to all so far.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 1:46 PM on July 12, 2007

I dare say you'd get better sound quality out of a proper set of headphones and a seperate mic than a random headset who's manufacturer doesn't even list basic specs for. I just got a pair of Sennheiser HD595's (open, circumaural) which are really comfortable, come with a neat desk stand and sound awesome.

Mouse wise, I'm fond of Logitech MX518's; they look good, they're nice and sensitive (resolution switchable on the fly without stupid drivers) and at least one benchmark shows it to be more accurate than many laser mice.

An Xbox 360 controller is handy to have around for the odd game where mouse/keyboard is insufficient like driving or flight sims, and are common enough that many games come with preconfigured defaults for them.

Upgrading your cooling hardware is fairly cheap and can lead to a substantially quieter system; Scythe make some nice CPU coolers with one of the better mounting systems; you may also want to investigate replacing some of your case fans, and maybe your PSU with quieter models.

Keyboard wise, I quite like my Cherry CyMotion. Maybe a Model M would be more satisfying, but they don't exactly seem easy to find, and personally I prefer if it people half a mile away can't hear my every keypress. If you like flashy things maybe you could go for something backlit...

If you're the sort to upgrade your HD's a lot, a hot-swap bay like this may be a good investment.

On the
posted by Freaky at 2:01 PM on July 12, 2007

Oops. OK, that remote does do things outside WinTV.
posted by Freaky at 2:03 PM on July 12, 2007

Also, if you're planning on putting an *ix on any spare systems, note you don't need monitors for them; once you've got them installed and running OpenSSH, you can talk to them from your desktop, and even export GUI applications using an X server like Xming.
posted by Freaky at 2:06 PM on July 12, 2007

Response by poster: ooh, thanks freaky.

can anybody give me some good advice on a pc remote? i'm not looking for a tv tuner or anything, just something where i can watch my wmvs and avis and dvds and what have you away from my keyboard.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 2:27 PM on July 12, 2007

One or more really good uninterruptible power supplies.
posted by Joleta at 2:42 PM on July 12, 2007

If you do any photoshop/graphics, get a wacom drawing tablet.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:04 PM on July 12, 2007

how about a good chair for your computer desk? I say this because I am currently using a "kitchen table" style chair with no cushion, due to my own lazyness. and hopefully you have a better desk than a folding table too.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2007

Get yourself, your friends and/or family a Mac, so they can have a good computing experience, too. ;-)

Seriously, though, should everyone have a webcam-enabled Macbook, you'll all be able to vid-conference one another from time to time, which is nice. (Rather than merely wishing you could given the constraints of using multiple OSs or web-chat clients.)
posted by diastematic at 5:23 PM on July 12, 2007

Seconding separate mike and headphones. Mikes last a lot longer than headphones.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:17 PM on July 12, 2007

-A Lightscribe CD/DVD Burner (lets you flip your CD and print burned-in images on the label-side, very cool looking)

-A video-capture card -- record TV shows and movies to your hard drive and then burn them to DVD (You can record from TiVo/DVR or OnDemand too). I have a relatively inexpensive one from Turtle Beach (I think it was like $119), and it works great.

-A Slingbox

-A large-capacity USB thumb-drive, filled up with programs from portableapps.com

-A large external HD for backups (and/or media storage), and Acronis TrueImage software for backups

-If you use a laptop, put a 2.5" HD in a bus-powered enclosure to carry your entire music collection with you.
posted by Alabaster at 6:30 PM on July 12, 2007

LED strips, LED fans, LED side panel glass, LED blinky things, LED everything...
posted by trim17 at 8:36 PM on July 12, 2007

Backup (again): I'd go for a RAID system. Many motherboards have on-board SATA RAID controllers, and with the cost of disks these days, it's a no-brainer.

Media streaming, or a dedicated media player with a big disk and network access (the ones with fan cooling tend to be too noisy).

USB memory stick with portable apps. (already mentioned but worth repeating).

The best monitor you can afford - your eyes will thank you!

A donation to the Algypug retirement fund (just kidding!).
posted by algypug at 12:20 AM on July 13, 2007

No, most motherboards don't have RAID controllers, they have normal SATA controllers with fragile chunks of BIOS code and nasty little drivers to do it all in software. Even £300+ hardware RAID can be hit-and miss, so I'm not sure it's a good plan to rely on £5 SATA controllers with cheap and cheerful drivers.

OS provided RAID tends to be somewhat better, since you're less at the whim of dumb BIOS bugs, and they tend to be rather better written and more thoroughly tested. However, most of my experience in this area is in Solaris/FreeBSD/Linux, not Windows.

That aside, RAID is not a replacement for backups. It protects you from *some* hardware failures, but it does bugger all to protect you from user or software error, and plenty of hardware failures will steamroll right over it. Go for RAID if you like not having to restore a system because of a drive failure, but don't kid yourself it has anything to do with backup.
posted by Freaky at 9:53 AM on July 13, 2007

Get yourself a plotter, and print everything on 3' x 5' sheets of paper. I'm telling you man, it's da bomb.
posted by Area Control at 12:29 PM on July 13, 2007

Optimus Maximus Keyboard
posted by Human Flesh at 2:22 PM on July 13, 2007

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